Posted: August 23, 2012

To date, three St. Mark’s faculty members have participated in the International Study Program sponsored by the prestigious Salzburg Global Seminar. Dean of Academics Lynette Sumpter, Chaplain Barbara Talcott, and Global Citizenship Curriculum Specialist Laura Appell-Warren have all been involved as Salzburg Fellows, engaged with college faculty and administrators to explore the factors that support or constrain a comprehensive approach to global education. Participants from a variety of backgrounds and institutions jointly develop strategies that can bring broader international perspectives to their classrooms, campuses, and communities. Founded in 1947 by then- Harvard graduate student Clemens Heller, the purpose of the Salzburg Global Seminar is to challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. To do this, participants are brought together from different cultures and institutions, problem-focused initiatives are organized, and leadership development is supported.

“It is very clear that we are a global community,” asserts Dean Sumpter, citing the School’s Strategic Plan, “and this connection can help St. Mark’s develop strategies to foster global education and leadership on our campus.” She describes “the ambience of collegiality” at the seminar. "It was extremely productive and inspiring," she said, “sitting in a room with colleagues in education who are really engaged and willing to delve into some very complex topics of global citizenship.”

“It was wonderful to be at a place so full of people who are passionate about international relations and global issues,” agreed Rev. Talcott. “The other Fellows had a great deal to share; we were right in the swim, sharing our own experiences as teachers. We were the only high school teachers there (the rest were all teaching at the college level) and yet we ended up taking on leadership roles in our subgroups (surprised?). The presenters were from many countries: Austria, Israel, Australia, Germany, and the Fellows, though all working in American colleges, were of every conceivable ethnic and national background, with very diverse interests when it came to teaching global citizenship. It was everybody’s experience, both personal and in the classroom, that really made the experience invaluable. “

“The experience helped me gain a much better understanding of how the U.S. is viewed around the globe,” commented Dr. Appell-Warren. “I have also gained a better understanding of the breadth of the educational system in the U.S., and for that I am very grateful. Sitting in the rarified air of the greater Boston area, at a prep school, one all too often forgets the diversity of experience within our own country!” At the end of her group’s thematic presentation, it was agreed that "Regardless of the size and scope, all institutions have a responsibility to provide for students an enduring and practical global civics program that addresses the challenges of a rapidly changing world."

“The greatest challenge,” acknowledges Sumpter, “is embracing what is essentially a paradigm shift and perhaps a controversial one: re-envisioning the core curriculum. From a ‘bold’ educational standpoint, the best programs will be those programs that emphasize the concept of ‘global education’ not as tangential to the core curriculum, but rather the core curriculum (or at least part of the core). The Seminar deeply explores this paradigm shift.” As one faculty member put it “We need to replace the old master narratives with something new. Perhaps that new ‘narrative’ can be global citizenship.”

All the St. Mark’s participants agree that the content and discussions of the Seminar were provocative in positive ways. “The format of the program,” noted Sumpter, “provided ample time for deep thinking and discussion.” Fellows were invited to think hard about what “education” is for. What is the purpose of education? “Obviously,” says Sumpter, “there are many answers to this question, but one ponders to what extent is education for the development of global citizenship and how much of the education should be devoted, then, to the mission of educating for productive global citizenship. What should students know and how do we assess that they’ve learned? These are but a few of the probing questions that seed the ground for strategic thinking. “

The summer component of the Salzburg Global Seminar's International Studies Program is entitled "Colleges and Universities as Sites of Global Citizenship". It was clear to all involved that “colleges and universities are increasingly coming to terms with the critical need to ‘internationalize’ the curriculum in terms of academic courses and co-curricular offerings,” according to Dean Sumpter. “The most current terminology being suggested in terms of discourse at the higher education level is ‘Internationalization’. Educational institutions that are being truly intentional about global education are making the case and enlisting all areas of the organization to support what is an overarching initiative.”

The Global Seminar program is based at Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo-style palace built at Salzburg in 1736. From 1918-1938 it had been the home of famed theatre director Max Reinhardt, co-founder of the Salzburg Festival, where the Von Trapp Family Singers performed in 1936. After a seven years under Nazi control, the Schloss was returned to Reinhardt’s widow, and it was in 1947 that Clemens Haller arranged with her for it to become the home of the Salzburg Global Seminars. The beauty of the region along with the history, art, and culture of Salzburg old and new all work together to enhance the experience of Global Seminar participants.

“The seminar is important,” says Dr. Appell-Warren, “because of the conversations you can have with colleagues and with the faculty, exploring issues of global citizenship and how that differs if you are an American, European, Asian, etc. It was also fascinating to learn how America is being viewed in Europe, Australia and Asia, right now. I came away with some great teaching ideas and materials for the III Form Seminar.”

The St. Mark’s Mission Statement declares that the School “educates young people for lives of leadership and service”, encouraging “each person to explore his or her place in the larger world beyond our campus.” This approach is consistent with the long-term emphasis of the Salzburg Seminar process, notes Sumpter. The opportunity to take part in a gathering “of teachers and leaders at the university level” allows participants to understand “the process of developing and implementing strategies for the practice of global citizenship” and lets “everyone go back to their home institutions with the commitment of building a critical mass to engage in furthering global education and opportunities for leadership in a global context.” So for example, curriculum, service trips, immersion programs, faculty development initiatives and, sustainability practice at the global level are all part of the potentialities of the Salzburg experience.

“It was wonderful,” agrees Appell-Warren, “and I feel honored to have been a part of this summer’s International Study Program. I am also very excited about the possibilities of an ongoing relationship with the Salzburg Global Seminar. I look forward to continuing the conversation.”

The St. Mark’s-Salzburg connection was made possible through the facilitation of alumnus and Trustee Bruce Wilson ’54. A past President of the St. Mark’s Alumni Executive Council, Wilson is a Salzburg Global Fellow and a member of the Salzburg Seminar’s Clemens Heller Society.