Building fluid coalitions of actors

The social progress agenda is not associated with a specific, homogeneous set of actors. This reflects the complexity and the diversity of current social structures around the world. Pursuing social progress appears dependent on building cross-sectoral coalitions of the willing.

  • Some traditional actors mediating various social interests are receding, though not disappearing, and unequally across regions of the world: political parties, unions, traditional churches and related charities, democratic governments, charismatic thinkers.
  • On the other hand, new actors are rising in numbers and force: transnational business, wealthy philanthropists, civil society and secular NGOs, new religious proselytes, dark money, authoritarian governments, criminal and terrorist international networks, social media influencers and manipulators.
Team building

The interdependent power dynamics among these actors are complex. The scales of operations of these various actors vary a lot, but scalability has increased with new technologies, although many movements formed through social media mobilization appear short-lived and with limited impact (Me-too, Occupy, Fridays for Future…). Civil society, full of promising initiatives, is under stress with the rise of authoritarianism, even in liberal democracies. The Panel also involves numerous researchers and teachers, who are well placed, not just as scholars but also as actors, to scrutinize the changing societal needs for education in a highly uncertain and fractious world, and for institutions that manage the creation and dissemination of science in a culturally and politically polarized context.

What coalitions of actors (of different types, geographical origins, missions, scales) can be formed and be impactful? What agendas and types of interventions can gather momentum and attract them? How to prevent counterproductive tensions between actors with imperfectly aligned agendas and divergent forms of action? These are the key questions that the Panel will try to answer and make accessible to all interested actors.