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rofound global changes took place in the 13th and 14th centuries that created key conditions that made the Renaissance in Europe possible. These included significantly increased interaction between countries and communities, the emergence and widespread adoption of new technology and innovation, and a major pandemic that had a huge impact on behavior and changed the balance of power and wealth in almost all affected societies.

There are obvious parallels with what is happening in the world now. But if we are to convert the potential of what is happening now into a new renaissance, a new era of human flourishing, then it will almost certainly be achieved through collective effort and collaboration rather than individual acts of genius.  

When one thinks of the Renaissance, images of beautiful architecture and the names of artists and inventors that are widely recognized to this day come to mind. But the period of Renaissance was more than the proliferation of art and science. After the Dark Ages, a hunger for discovery drove the creators (artists, inventors, and intellectuals) together with the curators (merchants, politicians, and bureaucrats), creating the kind of socioeconomic growth that made an indelible mark in European society.

As we navigate this new Renaissance of the 21st century, we imagine a virtual platform where Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Newton are contemporaries and can meet regularly. We know well their individual contributions to humanity, but what would happen if they could collaborate? And how could humanity benefit from a new group of innovators, scholars, artists, and traders coming not just from the same centers in Europe but from emerging centers of innovation from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and all races, genders, and ages?

If you accept that a culture of collaboration is going to be key to this then we need to find new ways of helping thinkers and innovators to connect. One of the more durable ideas from 2020 will be the importance of physical distance but social connectedness. More people in more places are more comfortable developing meaningful relationships with people they have never met in person than ever before. This is one of the reasons why new kinds of online networks are going to be crucial to this new era of human flourishing.  

As a greater part of many people’s lives has moved online there is a danger that we start to run on more frenetic digital time. There is a lot of talk of burnout and exhaustion. One of the really powerful things about effective, purpose driven networks are the ways in which members can draw energy from them, emotional (through connection), spiritual (through shared purpose), and mental (through stimulation and collaboration) energy levels can all be replenished and renewed though engagement and participation.  

One of the hallmarks of the centuries that preceded the European Renaissance was the emergence of cities or centers of learning that developed specializations and expertise in the translation and interpretation of classical learning. Online networks can play a role similar to that played by Alexandria, Toledo, or Palermo during the so-called Dark Ages—bastions of collaboration and exchange. Networks offer the chance to engage in both the breadth and depth of collaboration in ways that online workshops or conferences can’t. Online networks also create more equity of opportunity for participation, there are obviously still issues of access, but they are fairer in other ways, such as when the time commitment is spread out rather than concentrated.  

For these reasons a lot of our work is currently focused on supporting and developing networks serving different kinds of purpose. Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent organization committed to “challenging current and future leaders to shape a better world” has recently launched two new networks. The first, in collaboration with World Urban Parks, is for Emerging Urban Leaders and will bring together a cohort of about 20 academics, activists, and disrupters who have ideas about how their cities could be improved and want to work together to support and refine one another’s ideas. The second, in partnership with the LEGO Foundation and other partners, is for Education Policymakers who are interested in education reform leading to a breadth of skills (cognitive, physical, creative, emotional, social) in children’s education. The World in 2050 will build on the success of last year’s Innovation Olympics and is developing a network for the 34 winners and partners in the seven different challenge categories.

In different ways the participants in all of these networks will sustain and support one another as they look to bring about changes and improvements in different areas. This is a time of convergent crises: the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the struggle for racial justice, the polarization of societies, and a global learning crisis. These crises have acted as a catalyst for potentially long-lasting innovations in many areas of our lives. We hope, with great humility, that these new networks, and the many others emerging at the moment, can contribute in different ways to a better future.

Editor’s Note: The authors are both directly involved in the networks discussed in this article. The opinions are their own.

About
Dominic Regester
:
Dominic Regester is Program Director at Salzburg Global Seminar and Executive Committee Member, Karanga, as well as a Contributing Editor at Diplomatic Courier.
About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

Engineering a 21st Century Global Renaissance

March 9, 2021

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rofound global changes took place in the 13th and 14th centuries that created key conditions that made the Renaissance in Europe possible. These included significantly increased interaction between countries and communities, the emergence and widespread adoption of new technology and innovation, and a major pandemic that had a huge impact on behavior and changed the balance of power and wealth in almost all affected societies.

There are obvious parallels with what is happening in the world now. But if we are to convert the potential of what is happening now into a new renaissance, a new era of human flourishing, then it will almost certainly be achieved through collective effort and collaboration rather than individual acts of genius.  

When one thinks of the Renaissance, images of beautiful architecture and the names of artists and inventors that are widely recognized to this day come to mind. But the period of Renaissance was more than the proliferation of art and science. After the Dark Ages, a hunger for discovery drove the creators (artists, inventors, and intellectuals) together with the curators (merchants, politicians, and bureaucrats), creating the kind of socioeconomic growth that made an indelible mark in European society.

As we navigate this new Renaissance of the 21st century, we imagine a virtual platform where Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Newton are contemporaries and can meet regularly. We know well their individual contributions to humanity, but what would happen if they could collaborate? And how could humanity benefit from a new group of innovators, scholars, artists, and traders coming not just from the same centers in Europe but from emerging centers of innovation from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and all races, genders, and ages?

If you accept that a culture of collaboration is going to be key to this then we need to find new ways of helping thinkers and innovators to connect. One of the more durable ideas from 2020 will be the importance of physical distance but social connectedness. More people in more places are more comfortable developing meaningful relationships with people they have never met in person than ever before. This is one of the reasons why new kinds of online networks are going to be crucial to this new era of human flourishing.  

As a greater part of many people’s lives has moved online there is a danger that we start to run on more frenetic digital time. There is a lot of talk of burnout and exhaustion. One of the really powerful things about effective, purpose driven networks are the ways in which members can draw energy from them, emotional (through connection), spiritual (through shared purpose), and mental (through stimulation and collaboration) energy levels can all be replenished and renewed though engagement and participation.  

One of the hallmarks of the centuries that preceded the European Renaissance was the emergence of cities or centers of learning that developed specializations and expertise in the translation and interpretation of classical learning. Online networks can play a role similar to that played by Alexandria, Toledo, or Palermo during the so-called Dark Ages—bastions of collaboration and exchange. Networks offer the chance to engage in both the breadth and depth of collaboration in ways that online workshops or conferences can’t. Online networks also create more equity of opportunity for participation, there are obviously still issues of access, but they are fairer in other ways, such as when the time commitment is spread out rather than concentrated.  

For these reasons a lot of our work is currently focused on supporting and developing networks serving different kinds of purpose. Salzburg Global Seminar, an independent organization committed to “challenging current and future leaders to shape a better world” has recently launched two new networks. The first, in collaboration with World Urban Parks, is for Emerging Urban Leaders and will bring together a cohort of about 20 academics, activists, and disrupters who have ideas about how their cities could be improved and want to work together to support and refine one another’s ideas. The second, in partnership with the LEGO Foundation and other partners, is for Education Policymakers who are interested in education reform leading to a breadth of skills (cognitive, physical, creative, emotional, social) in children’s education. The World in 2050 will build on the success of last year’s Innovation Olympics and is developing a network for the 34 winners and partners in the seven different challenge categories.

In different ways the participants in all of these networks will sustain and support one another as they look to bring about changes and improvements in different areas. This is a time of convergent crises: the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, the struggle for racial justice, the polarization of societies, and a global learning crisis. These crises have acted as a catalyst for potentially long-lasting innovations in many areas of our lives. We hope, with great humility, that these new networks, and the many others emerging at the moment, can contribute in different ways to a better future.

Editor’s Note: The authors are both directly involved in the networks discussed in this article. The opinions are their own.

About
Dominic Regester
:
Dominic Regester is Program Director at Salzburg Global Seminar and Executive Committee Member, Karanga, as well as a Contributing Editor at Diplomatic Courier.
About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.