Kenneth Cukier was struck by the open and welcoming atmosphere, and the diversity of participants and perspectives – not only from Europe and the United States, but also from Africa and Asia. He found it to be a safe venue for candid discussions with people he otherwise would not have met, in an environment that encourages rigorous debate, forcing participants to rethink and defend their ideas.
“The nice thing is that the Seminar is a setting,” he says. “It’s an environment. It’s an infrastructure. It’s an intellectual sandbox where people can experiment and innovate with ideas, learn new things, think new thoughts and think together with other people.”
In 2009, Kenneth attended a session on Asia as a Freeman Fellow while working in Japan as The Economist’s Tokyo correspondent. Kenneth’s experience as a Fellow served as a professional catalyst, allowing him to test ideas with Chinese economists and academics from across the region. They encouraged him to pursue alternative perspectives in his reporting on the economic crisis in Asia. “It was a form of validation for me. I went back to Tokyo and was able to write with more confidence.”
Kenneth has continued his involvement with Salzburg Global Seminar through a number of avenues; contributing to strategy days, speaking at a board of directors’ weekend, and making financial gifts. He experienced the pure inspiration of Schloss Leopoldskron when he began writing the article which was eventually expanded into Big Data in the Max Reinhardt library. And he put the finishing touches on the manuscript while sitting on the Lake Terrace three years later.
Kenneth believes it is important to support Salzburg Global financially. “There are multiple flashpoints in the world that require a ‘strategic convener’ to bring together ideas and people if we are going to solve some of society’s challenges.” He goes on to say, “It’s essential that the Fellows understand that they’re the recipients of this generosity and this legacy – this tradition going back to 1947 – and carry forward the mission in our own day.”
Salzburg Global Seminar is honored to have Kenneth Cukier serve as the Chair of the 2013 Annual Giving Campaign.