First Book from New Series Explores Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean
A red apple is balanced on top of some school books. Next to it on the right are some coloring pencils and A B C building blocks.Image: Element5 Digital/Unsplash
First Book from New Series Explores Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean
By: Josh Wilde 

Salzburg Global Seminar, the British Council, and Porticus support first book that explores social and emotional learning (SEL) in the Mediterranean region

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is crucial in teaching skills such as self-awareness, problem-solving, and empathy, prerequisite traits for positive development in an era of substantial social, economic, and technological change.

SEL has become a valuable tool in tackling challenges faced by countries in the Mediterranean basin, including violence and forced displacement, which can hinder quality education delivery.

The first volume in the Brill | Sense series on Comparative Education in the Mediterranean, Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean: Cross Cultural Perspectives and Approaches, is a pioneering publication that explores how this region is stimulating SEL, the barriers to its implementation, and what can be learned. It aims to raise awareness of effective practices and critically reflect on challenges with recommendations for policy-makers, intervention, and future research.

The book features a diverse range of contributors from both within the Mediterranean region and further afield. They include series editor Ronald Sultana and volume editors Carmel Cefai, Salzburg Global Seminar Program Director Dominic Regester, and Leyla Akoury Dirani. 

Salzburg Global is proud to have facilitated an SEL session with many authors that fostered this volume idea.

Speaking on Monday at the latest program, Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean Region, part of Salzburg Global’s Education for Tomorrow’s World series, Cefai explained there is now a consensus on how SEL varies across different contexts.

“Research evidence shows high-quality programs which have been very effective in one context did not travel: when they were implemented in other contexts they were not effective at all,” Cefai said.

“Rather than trying to carve out a new niche for SEL in a curriculum which is already overloaded, it might be more feasible, practical, and culturally sensitive to make use of existing overlapping structures and try to introduce SEL on the back of that existing framework.

“One issue which I think SEL can be helpful with is to promote and advance children’s rights and children’s voice. Children themselves will have the opportunity through SEL to talk about what they would like to see in their education.”

This volume is dedicated to Samar El Ahmadieh from Lebanon, one of the authors who sadly passed away during the publication process.

Other contributors include: Claudine Aziz, Özden Bademci, Marc Brackett, Roxane Caires, Valeria Cavioni, Yvonne El Feghaly, Nahla Harb, Maria Kalli, Wael Kazan, Amina Kleit, Nagwa Megahed, Gihan Osman, Amor Ouelbani, Maria Poulou, Anwar Hussein-Abdel Razeq, Rémie Rhayem, Katia Terriot, Carly Tubbs Dolan, and Emmanuelle Vignoli.

The book is available to purchase here from the Brill Publishers website.

A Year of New Frontiers and Tough Choices
Clare Shine takes part in a Zoom call during one of this year's online programsClare Shine takes part in a Zoom call during one of this year's online programs
A Year of New Frontiers and Tough Choices
By: Clare Shine 

In a message to Salzburg Global Fellows and supporters, Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Clare Shine, reflects on 2020 and Salzburg Global's radical reinvention

Dear Friends,

What a year it has been for everyone....

Normally we’d be deep in programs at Schloss Leopoldskron, watching the leaves fall and the first snows arrive. Instead, Austria and her neighbors are facing ever tighter restrictions to curb the pandemic, the United States is facing political and social strife unseen in decades - and the world remains on edge for what may come next.

We went into 2020 ready to launch our boldest-ever projects and partnerships in Salzburg and across the planet. As the virus took hold, we started to realize that international travel was off the cards – and would remain so. It was devastating after collaborating for months and years on major new initiatives.

And so we began the task of radical reinvention. What could network design and collaboration look and feel like in a fully-virtual world? How could we forge community in a period of trauma and converging crises? Could we still spark ideas and alliances for lasting impact and influence?

Those doubts are mostly behind us. I have never been prouder of my colleagues for how they have mapped pathways out of crisis, true to the spirit of our founding in 1947 and to our mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world.

The last six months have been a period of intense online innovation, engaging thousands of new Fellows from around the world on issues of global concern. Examples include:

  • Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined”: a six-month partnership with the World Innovation Summit for Education addressing the unparalleled impacts of Covid-19 on education around the world. Strategies for recovery and systems reform were presented in a special e-book launched alongside the virtual United Nations General Assembly in September.
  • Exploring crisis response and effective leadership, and how companies should tackle both the distinct issues and converging risks around income inequality, COVID-19, climate change, and broader issues of systemic inequality at the 2020 virtual meeting of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum, "Putting Directors to the Test: How Does Leadership Measure Up in a Time of Crisis?"
  • A new partnership with the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, focused on the Climate Emergency and the Future of Food.
  • Webinars on health sector leadership and practical responses to the pandemic, bringing together European members of the Sciana-Health Leaders Network.
  • A new multi-year initiative on “What Future for Democracy”, launching the next phase of our legendary American Studies Program.
  • Creating a brand-new regional network of Asia Peace Innovators, who meet online twice a month to discuss best practices across sectors so as to shape long-term peace, stability, and regional cooperation.
  • Transforming our Young Cultural Innovators Forum into a creator-led global platform to support individual artists and practitioners and advance the role of the cultural sector in regenerating and energizing societies.

These and other examples share a common aim: to provide all our Fellows with an open platform for candid dialogue and trust-building. We have stuck to our famous mantra – “be tough on the issues and kind on each other”.

In that spirit, we created Designs on the Future to focus on emergent challenges and inform our programs, networks and impact far into the future. Already we have featured Salzburg Global Fellows Stacey Abrams, US politician and voting rights activist, and La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to address urgent social issues for communities across the globe.

We’ve learned so much and are hugely grateful to our Fellows, partners and staff for their many contributions. However, it has still been a very tough year.

As many of you know, the non-profit sector has been impacted particularly hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic. The combination of program adaptations, cancellations, and hotel closures has seriously damaged our financial outlook for 2020 and 2021.

For 73 years, Salzburg Global has inspired ideas, individuals and institutions across borders. We refuse to let this virus stop us now.

Our work is funded by grants, fees, and individual gifts. Now more than ever, we need everybody who values our work to step forward and support our programs and networks in whatever way they can. Thank you so much for any help that you can provide here.

We look forward to writing the future history of Salzburg Global with you for the months and years to come. Please stay safe and healthy in the meantime.

Rev. Brandan Robertson: “As a Christian Minister, I Believe That Queer People (and All People) Are Created in the Image of God”
Rev. Brandan Robertson: “As a Christian Minister, I Believe That Queer People (and All People) Are Created in the Image of God”
By: Rev. Brandan J. Robertson 

Christian pastor explores the tensions and intersections of his sexuality and faith

Young Cultural Innovators Win Major International Award
Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner smiling in an action pose with some game controllers.Photo courtesy of Polycular.
Young Cultural Innovators Win Major International Award
By: Josh Wilde 

Salzburg Global Fellows Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner recognized with inaugural Olympics of Innovation Challenge Award

Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner met while working at university where they turned dream into reality, co-founding the interactive design and technology studio Polycular.

They are now in dreamland once again after their company won an international Olympics of Innovation Challenge Award for Artistic Vision at the inaugural World in 2050 Awards.

Described as “a forum for our future,” Diplomatic Courier’s World in 2050 think tank recognizes outstanding organizations tackling significant challenges across seven classifications: Society, Humanity, Energy, Health, Travel, Off-World, and Artistic Visions.

Solutions from each category will be championed at major global forums including the Innovation Olympics Festival, the United Nations General Assembly and the G20 Summit.

“I couldn’t actually believe it,” Praxmarer told Salzburg Global. “If you read through the other winners – SpaceX by Elon Musk, Johns Hopkins University, Bird – the names couldn’t be any bigger. They are the world leaders in their field. Then it says Polycular which really feels uncanny. A small Austrian company with 12 people being given this prestigious award. It’s more than a surprise.”

The judges praised Polycular’s variety and quality of work. From sustainable, environmentally-focused projects such as EgoGotchi where they reinvented the popular 1990s’ Tamagotchi toy craze to encourage greener lifestyle choices, to visionary ventures such as Morbus Genesis which uses computer algorithms to show everyday inanimate objects degrading, in turn encouraging audiences to rethink their own mortality, grief and loss.

“The great thing about working with digital technologies is that to some degree you have a lot of power in shaping virtual reality,” Praxmarer described. “That can be thought-provoking and offer new perspectives to an audience. If you can establish this magic moment, they are interested and you can get them talking.”

This accolade is just the latest for Polycular with other honors including the 2018 Umdasch Research Award for Learning and Education, the World Summit Award Austria for Education in 2019, and the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award.

“We made our mark in the local creativity and innovation scene,” Praxmarer added. “We haven’t won too many international awards so this is one that stands out and we are very proud.

“We were university professors in the field of game development, interactive art and augmented reality. We set out to start a company to use creative processes combined with art, technology and innovation to make interesting projects, ideally with an impact to society. They often revolve around sustainability and awareness building. We think education is foremost to train a younger generation with digital means and games to give them a new perspective on important topics.”

Both Praxmarer and Layer-Wagner are Salzburg Global Fellows after attending the annual programs of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum (YCI Forum) in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The YCI Forum is currently taking place virtually with this year’s program considering, A Global Platform for Creative, Just and Sustainable Futures.

“I had the chance to be part of it at the very beginning of our company,” Praxmarer explained. “It was one of the best mentoring programs I’ve ever attended. I’ve attended a lot of mentorship programs from accelerators all over the Silicon Valley and other places. Salzburg Global still stands out in terms of quality, mentors, location, the people and the caring. This special vibe you can’t really describe; you really have to be there.

“This network of young people aren’t just talking pipe dreams, they actually are smart and resilient enough to pull things off. You can learn so much in one week. It’s one of the greatest places and I told my co-founder [Layer-Wagner] he had to go there. It brings you forward in your own thinking. It’s well-spent time to step back and really reflect on topics of leadership, innovation and creativity.”

Salzburg Global is a partner of the World in 2050 Awards and Praxmarer thanked Faye Hobson, YCI Forum Lead and Salzburg Global Program Manager, who first nominated Polycular.

“Without her and Salzburg Global, we wouldn’t even have entered this kind of award,” Praxmarer acknowledged. “Coming from Hallein in Salzburg, this is something really special, which we had to work very hard for. Some organizations believed in us like Salzburg Global and we hope to pay back the people that helped us. We are super proud to put Austria, Salzburg Global and Polycular on the map.”

Hobson also wished to send her congratulations on behalf of Salzburg Global.

“The YCI Forum strives to empower the next generation of changemakers. Robert, Thomas and the whole Polycular team are great examples of what can be achieved when you work hard and dream big,” Hobson said.

“I was only too pleased to nominate them for this prestigious award and even more delighted to hear they had won. It is fantastic to see our Fellows named amongst the biggest and best in global innovation.”

Looking ahead, Praxmarer says Polycular’s future is bright as they strive to shape the future of learning.

“I hope we realize our dream to redefine education through digital means,” Praxmarer added. “Using playful discovery where it’s about challenging the learner. How kids learn when they explore a room or play hide and seek. We want to find new storytelling solutions for experiential and transformative learning.”

Christopher Lee - Is the Rise of Index Funds at Odds with Good Corporate Governance?
Christopher Lee at Salzburg Global SeminarChristopher Lee at Salzburg Global Seminar
Christopher Lee - Is the Rise of Index Funds at Odds with Good Corporate Governance?
By: Christopher Lee 

In the latest installment of the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance series, FAA Investments senior partner Christopher Lee reflects on the relationship between index funds and corporate boards

This article is part of the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance series, facilitated by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum

This short article will explore the changing roles of index funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and share some important facts and observations with public company board members.

In the last decade, the worldwide index fund industry's size has grown to a staggering USD 10 trillion in assets, per a Financial Times article in Jan 2020, while, in 2018, the traditional activist funds remained at a lean size of only USD 146 billion. Currently, activist hedge funds are comparatively small in the context of the global asset management industry. Fund sizes matter a great deal in both the asset management industry and corporate governance.

Arguments Support and Against Index Funds

In 2010, "Jack" Bogle, Vanguard's founder and father of the index funds industry, famously said index funds would be called to play a larger role in corporate governance as they eventually gather more assets. He termed index funds the "Best Hope for Corporate Governance."

Separately, Larry Fink has also written in multiple letters that BlackRock's iShares ETFs will hold the stocks if they like the companies. Even if iShares ETFs don't like the companies, they will still have the stocks. In other words, ETFs or index funds are permanent shareholders that focus on the long term if the companies are included in the Index.

The Economist magazine, however, once called index funds lazy investors or bystanders, and a 2019 paper by Harvard University, Prof. Lucian Bebchuk argues that index funds still have incentives to under-invest in stewardship and that index funds are "excessively deferential" to corporate management. He adds that index fund managers are unlikely to intervene when a company's financial performance lags based on evidence.

Jack Bogle, the same person who supported index funds in corporate governance, later said in 2018 that the big three's growing dominance could pose huge problems in the coming era and the industry. If historical trends of the growth continue, BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors and other index funds will one day hold voting control of every US corporation.

Index Funds vs. Activist Hedge Funds

Are index funds replacing activist hedge funds as the new power in corporate governance?

While the average investor in an activist hedge fund is either a millionaire or billionaire, Main Street investors, or "forced capitalists," as Leo Strine calls them, are the Worker Investors in ETFs. Board members have fiduciary duties to both large and small investors. I suggest the following three areas for board members to consider when facing global index funds: embrace markets innovations, engage calculation agents, and consider international best practices.

Embrace Markets Innovations

Former US Chair of the Federal Reserve and Salzburg Global Fellow Paul Volcker once said the ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) is the banking industry's greatest innovation. In addition, I would argue that ETF is another great innovation in capital markets. As a sub-set of the index fund industry, ETFs now account for nearly USD five trillion globally and increasingly provide more liquid, flexible, and low-cost investment products. Board members need to embrace the latest innovations in capital markets and understand how they relate to governance issues. ETFs are significant shareholders. Salzburg Global Fellow Prof. Edward Rock argues markets should let ETFs exercise their shareholders' rights – let shareholders be shareholders.

Engage Calculation Agents

The ecosystems of capital markets and ETFs include significant stakeholders like index calculation agents such as Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500), Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), and the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE). In addition to engaging the activist hedge funds, boards and management teams should extend investor relations efforts to include this important stakeholder segment by understanding their indexation methodology. Which company is included in the index, and which ones are not? And how much weight in the index per company?

International Best Practices

Some of the practices in the UK and Germany are useful for public company board directors to consider. For example, the UK stewardship code updated in 2020 is for both asset owners and asset managers. Boards could use this to ensure fair treatment under stated principles is applied to all stakeholders. In Germany, a few successful ETFs are issued by DWS, an affiliate of Deutsche Bank. One of the successful ETFs is called Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity Fund, which has USD 2.5 billion invested in top US companies. This ETF’s asset-under-management is larger than many mid-size US activist funds. Indicative of the success, MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity Fund had almost doubled in size in one year. The ESG Leaders Fund tracks a market-cap-weighted index of US large and midcap stocks, screened for environmental, social, and governance characteristics. Boards could aim to understand the quantitative method and ESG principles employed by Xtrackers.

In summary, while index funds and corporate boards may have been at odds initially, they are now inseparable. Both could employ a longer-term view and international best practices to significantly increase engagement with each other, and further align the long-term interests of company owners, fund managers, and capital markets calculation agents to strive for excellence in corporate governance.

Have an opinion? 

We encourage readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn

Christopher Lee is a senior partner at FAA Investments. He also serves on boards of public and private companies and is currently chairing the Investment Committee of Salzburg Global Seminar's Board of Directors. He is also a Salzburg Global Fellow.

The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here:

How Can Leaders Support Racial Healing?
How Can Leaders Support Racial Healing?
By: Louise Hallman 

Leaders from philanthropy and finance explore how their funds can best support racial equity in second Designs on the Future webinar

The triple pandemic of racism, recession and COVID-19 hurts poor and minority communities most. Whole societies pay the cost. If racial disparities in health, education, incarceration, and employment were eliminated, the US economy could gain an extra $8 trillion by 2050.

Who and where are the leaders ready to tackle structural injustice over the next decade? How can corporations and foundations drive capital to communities of color? How might changes in the US impact – and be impacted by – other countries that also struggle to address deep-rooted inequities? 

These – and many more – were the questions facing La June Montgomery Tabron (CEO of the Kellogg Foundation) and Kirk Wickman (President of alternative investment firm Angelo Gordon & Co in the webinar, How Can Leaders Support Racial Healing?

The candid conversation was moderated by Salzburg Global Vice President Clare Shine and streamed live from Schloss Leopoldskron to an audience of Salzburg Global Fellows, donors and friends around the world. 

Watch the webinar in full

A New, Open Initiative 

Designs on the Future is a new, open initiative inspired by Salzburg Global’s radical roots and the unrivalled diversity of our Fellowship. Following in that tradition, the second webinar also featured several Fellows. In addition to Tabron (who first came to Salzburg in 1997 for another program on race and diversity, then sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation), “provocations” were submitted by several Fellows, including Bisi Alimi (Salzburg Global LGBT Forum), Susan Glisson (American Studies Program), Katrina Scotto di Carlo and Markus Diethelm (both of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum), and Omari Rush (Young Cultural Innovators Forum).

The full list of Fellows' provocations, as well the additional provocative questions posed in the chat during the webinar are all available on the program webpage

This webinar was the second in the Designs on the Future series, which was launched with the discussion Has Democracy Become a Spectator Sport? with Salzburg Global Fellows, US politician and voters’ rights advocate Stacey Abrams and journalist and writer Will Dobson, whose writing includes the book, The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy. Abrams and Dobson were in turn joined by three more Salzburg Global Fellows acting as “provocateurs”: Maria Farrell, a speaker and writer on technology, politics and the future, consultant on internet governance and infrastructure; Henry W. Leung, a poet and creative nonfiction writer from Hong Kong studying law at UC Berkeley, USA; and Chloe Hakim-Moore, founder and director of Next Memphis in Tennessee, USA.

More information on the Designs on the Future initiative is available online: 

Sign up for the Salzburg Global Newsletter to find out how you can join the next webinar:  

Designs on the Future: How Can Leaders Heal Divided Communities?
Designs on the Future: How Can Leaders Heal Divided Communities?

The triple pandemic of racism, economic recession and COVID-19 hurts poor and minority communities most. Who and where are the leaders ready to tackle structural injustice over the next decade? 

Join us for a straight-talking conversation on how business and philanthropic leaders can and should leverage finance for greater equity and support next-generation leadership.   
How Can Leaders Heal Divided Communities?
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
11.00 - 12.15 EDT / 17.00 - 18.15 CEST

Check the time in your local time zone)

La June Montgomery Tabron

President and CEO,
W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF)

A Salzburg Global Fellow since 1997, Montgomery Tabron is the first African American president and CEO of WKKF, one of the largest private foundations in the US.

In conversation with:

Kirk Wickman
President, Angelo Gordon  

Kirk is president of Angelo Gordon & Co., a $40bn global alternative asset manager. He also sits on boards of the Managed Funds Association in Washington, D.C. and the Red Cross (Greater New York).

Clare Shine 
Vice President & Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar

Participants will have the opportunity to submit a question or provocation via video and take part in a live Q&A.

Register to attend here.