Programming Background

Programming Background

Promoting Informed Discussion Across Viewpoints

The Foundation undertook a project, the ‘Congress of Vienna 2015’, to examine major issues threatening stability – and to seek policy responses that might achieve a more fair, harmonious and productive human society.

That project was undertaken as a contemporary commemoration of the original Congress of Vienna held 200 years earlier. We convened 40 Delegates and over 75 advisors and observers from around the world in the same room - and on the same dates as the final action of the earlier Congress – at the Chancellery of Austria. Three and a half days of discussions among the invited thought and policy leaders were intended to stimulate informed dialogue, a search for constructive ‘solutions’ and an initial airing of policy directions, if not policies, for comment and definition of follow-on investigation of three destabilizing issues we considered most important, timely and under-addressed: Relations Among the Major States; Forced Displacement; and Technology, Productivity and Income Distribution.

Further, we dedicated the evenings during the Congress to interaction among the participants that began, each evening, with an art exhibitions and/or musical performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra or ensemble, followed by dinners seated so as to encourage the discussions of contentious issues in a setting of shared artistic experience and interpersonal social exchange – a living experience of a fourth theme of our programming begun 2 years before the Congress, in a 5-part Symposium on the Role of Art in Society. The earlier program had focused on ‘reconciliation’ of a highly cultured history, a period of human atrocity and contemporary constructive vigilance – in collaboration with and around the real life example of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

In parallel to the Congress, an international and facilitated dialogue of a Youth Congress was held at a second site and the conclusions of their moderated conversations were shared with their elders – a reflection of our interest in advancing discussion and engagement of the next generation in the consideration and policy making on major issues - and with a multi-national perspective that fosters pluralist and global thinking.

The Congress sessions in October 2015 were the culmination of a year during which the Foundation organized the writing of 17 scholarly papers and held 9 international workshops on different aspects of the topics on the Congress agenda – a process designed to focus the discussions. The Congress was also conceived as the beginning of a deeper consideration of the policy ideas or directions explored by the Foundation at the sessions. This further research, analysis and consultation - each topic addressed in collaboration with leading institutions and thinkers in the subject matter of the individual programs - is now producing additional documentation, more specific policy proposals and plans for public dialogue on the issues and ideas involved. It has, similarly, led to the continuation of participatory activity on the matters of the Role of Art in Society and a youth focused North American Foreign Policy Institute.

The pages of this site and its links to supporting information will, we hope, stimulate more informed discussion of issues we believe critically important to a healthy society – and do so among an ever wider community, the engagement of which in the governance of our societies is crucial for the future of democracy and ethical leadership. On these pages you will see the continuing efforts of the Foundation to contribute to the betterment of society.

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