Global Bildung Day 2024 March 21: Speakers

What it Means to be Human:

Bildung Traditions Around the Globe, Past, Present, and Future

Meet the speakers

See the program and sign up here:

In order of appearance:

Noema Toia Williams

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Noema Toia Williams is a great-grandmother and an adult educator. She is also Māori and an esteemed researcher in the field of language and its importance for indigenous peoples.

Indigenous Education

An introduction to the various full immersion Māori language educational contexts developed by Māori people in response to language loss — and the revitalisation of the Māori language. 

 1 The Te Kohanga Reo (Pre-school: students 0 to 4 years old);  2 Kura Kaupapa Maori (students 5 years to 13 years old,  and 3 Wharekura (students 14 to 18 years old).

Cheng Yi-Heng


Cheng Yi-Heng is a member of the Club of Rome and a guest professor of Tongji University, China.

Confucian Bildung, Past, Present, and Future

China has a long bildung tradition that is shaped by both Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

Dorine van Norren

The Netherlands

Dorine van Norren is a former diplomat who is now an associated researcher at Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden University, and University of Pretoria, the Humanities, Decoloniality Research Group.

Bildung and Worldviews; East Meets West

Our worldviews shape how we interact with the world. How does this affect our relationship to nature and our chances of living sustainably. Dorine will briefly compare African Ubuntu, Latin American Buen Vivir, and Eastern philosophy.

Thakur S. Powdyel


Professor Thakur S Powdyel is an educator by choice and was the Minister of Education in Bhutan 2008-2013. He is also a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate in Innovation Education in recognition of his outstanding contribution to global education thought.

The World That Might Have Been…

When Bhutan decided to focus more on happiness than on GDP, they invented the Gross National Happiness Index. To explore how this could be manifested in education, Thakur S Powdyel wrote the book My Green School, which became the foundation under an educational reform in Bhutan.

Eliane Metni


Eliane Metni is the Director of the International Education Association in Lebanon and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto.

Bildung Brings Hope and Empowerment in Post-Conflict Contexts

Lebanon is a beacon of resilience and innovation in the Middle East, while it grapples with a myriad of challenges. Among the efforts to empower refugees, a holistic Creative Process learning framework centered around Coder-Maker has been a huge success.

Rika Preiser

South Africa

Rika Preiser’s research explores the conceptual development of complexity and how the study of the features and dynamics of Complex Adaptive Systems inform novel ways for thinking and anticipating more equitable social-ecological transformation processes toward resilient Anthropocene futures.

New Narratives of Hope: Contemporary African Philosophers

Africa has a rich philosophical tradition and a wealth of contemporary philosophers who base their thinking in this tradition. Rika Preisler edited the publication New Narratives of Hope and will introduce the philosophy of the African philosophers who contributed.

Folarin Gbadebo-Smith


Folarin Gadebo Smith is Director General at the Nigerian Institute for social and economic research, he is also trained as a surgeon and has spent a number of years as a politician in Nigeria.

Ubuntu from Another African Perspective

The South African concept of Ubuntu is widely known and is gaining international interest. But it is not part of the cultural heritage in all of Africa, so how is it perceived in parts of Africa that do not share the tradition?

Lene Rachel Andersen


Lene Rachel Andersen is a futuris, philosopher, and bildung activist. She is also the initiator of Global Bildung Day and the Global Bildung Network, and she runs the think tank Nordic Bildung in Copenhagen, which hosts the Network activities.

The Significance of Bildung

The German philosopher Friedrich Schiller said that only people with enough bildung can handle political freedom. But what did he actually mean by that? And might it be true?

Klaas van Egmond

The Netherlands

Klaas van Egmont is professor emeritus in geology and a prominent public intellectual in the Netherlands. Among his books is Homo Universalis, which is very much about bildung!

Why More Bildung is so Urgent Now

We live in challenging times, and we need bildung more than ever. But what kind of a difference might it make?

Marcos Sarasola


Marcos Sarasola is the vice rector of academic programming at Universidad Católica del Uruguay.

The Transformative Encounter

Latin America has a rich tradition of empowering pedagogics and bildung. Among the most famous philosophers of this kind of education are Paolo Freire and Huberto Maturana, and Marcos Sarasola will introduce their thinking.

Gustavo Hernandez
& Henkjan Laats


Gustavo Hernandez is an expert at the United Nations Harmony with Nature program and co-director of Cross Cultural Bridges.

Henkjan Laats is an expert in Holistic Science at UN Harmony with Nature, and director of Cross Cultural Bridges.

Buen Vivir: What is the good life?

Buen Vivir means ‘living well,’ but it is also a bildung concept that unites human well-being with the well-being of nature.

Sandra Ericson

United States

Sandra Ericson chaired the Consumer Arts and Science Department at City College of San Francisco for 28 years, and taught inner-city students, Vietnam vets, new immigrants, single parents, and lower income as they began to live independently in a new culture or a new country.

Human Ecology

The concept “Human Ecology” is an American bildung invention that integrates all aspects of life in the modern society, not least how one runs a healthy household. Some may know parts of Human Ecology from their school days, where it was often called Home Economics.

Steve Joordens
& Adam Frost


Steve Joordens is a fulll professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and Adam Frost is a postdoctorall researcher at the same department.

Technology and the Decline of the Bildung Human

Bildung was a new concept to Steve and Adam when they were asked to write a contribution to the book What it Means to be Human: Bildung Traditions from around the Globe, Past, Present, and Future, and some very interesting thoughts about bildung, technology, and human psychology have come out of this!

Zak Stein

United States

Zak Stein is a writer, educator, and futurist, working to bring a greater sense of sanity and justice to education.

The Last Educators

What happens to the human condition when the transfer of knowledge that used to take place from the older generations to the young is taken over by Artificial Intelligence? What kind of humans will we be in the future?