Global Bildung Manifesto

Lene Rachel Andersen
Published in
5 min readJul 4, 2021


Better Bildung, Better Future

May 9, 2021

We need better Bildung for a better future
— for the sake of coming generations and for our own!

Read the manifesto below or go to where you can also sign it.

With this manifesto, we, the signatories, offer a framework for Bildung. This manifesto speaks to people around the globe, to governments and other leadership, proclaiming that our collective future is a future of Bildung.

A Bildung Manifesto for a Global Renaissance 2.0

Humanity is at a crossroads where climate change, disruptive technologies, globalization, wealth inequality, mass-migration, extinction of species, and many other wicked, complex problems challenge the current structures of society, and hence social calm and world peace. The sudden spread of the corona virus is an existential wake-up call to humankind: We cannot disrupt existing structures and circumstances without unsettling consequences. Our future is at stake.

We need creative efforts, not just in order to create the road to peace, but also to build the road wide and in the direction of a better future for all humans and life on the planet. We want the path we choose, to preserve and further develop democracy and human rights. We want the path we choose to promote the science that allows us to keep everybody safe. And we want to promote a culture that allows everybody to be free and have access to Bildung.

Bildung beyond borders.

Why Bildung?

Bildung is the combination of the education and knowledge necessary to thrive in one’s society, and the moral and emotional maturity to be both a team player and have personal autonomy.

Bildung is also the ‘education’ bringing this about; Bildung is the process as well as the result.

Bildung is a dynamic concept, one that can evolve.

Bildung is knowing one’s roots and being able to imagine and co-create the future.

Bildung offers wholesomeness. It is a means in itself; it is not instrumental. It allows us to be fully humane and treat the planet and other species with their inherent dignity, thus enabling us to live within planetary boundaries.

Bildung is a promise of an achievable utopia towards which everybody can contribute.

Bildung is a force of peaceful societal transformation.

Why now?

If there is anything positive coming out of the corona pandemic, it is the sudden human connection around the globe. As national borders close, the human spirit connects; as markets crash, culture is shared; as people are confined to their homes, they take up singing on their balconies. The disruption of the industrialized society is opening a window to that which makes us human, and which could be at the core of civilization in the future. As the plague of 1348 paved the way for the Renaissance in Europe, the current pandemic could, if we so choose, be the door to a Renaissance 2.0 around the globe. We have an opportunity that no generation may ever experience again.

The future is open and we are the generation who needs to define it on entirely new terms. We have the science, knowledge, technologies, and opportunities available that no previous generation ever had.

For too long, education has focused almost exclusively on skills for the job market and how each individual can contribute to economic growth. Humans have been reduced to consumers and cogwheels in a commercial machinery.

We have made mistakes by giving the markets too much power.

We have deprived ourselves of the education and Bildung that could have made us flourish and protect the planet.

It is time to change.

What kind of Bildung?

Bildung is for life, a meaningful life, through all phases of life. From childhood, via adolescence and adulthood into old age.

Bildung is always Bildung in a context, and the complexity of the issues we are facing is higher than ever before. The Bildung we need to develop must match the challenges and complexities of the circumstances we are facing.

Bildung is the refinement of that which is unique in each one of us, and also includes the tolerance towards others who have the same right to their uniqueness.

Bildung is the foundation of conscious citizenship, empowerment and emancipation; it is the prerequisite for political freedom and democracy.

Bildung emerges from confrontation with that which challenges one’s existing worldviews. The catalysts can be new insights, skills, art, literature and deep conversations with unlike-minded people.

Bildung is open-ended, curious, and loves surprises. Bildung means suffering pushbacks and making mistakes. Bildung is fun and play. It is lore and cultural depth. It is developing one’s voice and having a say in one’s life.


For this, we need awareness about Bildung and how crucial it is. We have to develop new programs within existing institutions, and completely new Bildung platforms. We shall revitalize the many teaching methods that already exist in addition to the development of new ones.

It must be a joint effort to empower citizens who can take personal responsibility for the betterment of society. Bildung will have to be a visible agenda across the globe, fostered by a network of actors from all levels, ranging from individuals, communities, cities, regions and nations to whole continents.

Investing in Bildung, in human meaning-making and development, must have our highest priority.

While the funding will have to be top-down, the goal is a strengthened capacity of the citizens to self-organize bottom-up, around what makes life richer and more meaningful at the individual as well as the societal level.

By whom?

Bildung is universal and concerns all humans and all societies.

Citizens, governments, researchers, local communities, businesses, NGOs, educational institutions, and teachers need to unite around this endeavour.

People need to request it, take the initiative and self-organize around it.

Governments, businesses and NGOs depend on it and should not just encourage it; they should see it as the best investment in a prosperous and peaceful future.

Wherever Bildung takes place, educators should be free to do what they do best. They should be provided with an open landscape of Bildung opportunities for their work and for their pupils and students.

Everybody can learn and everybody has something to teach.

We all have an obligation to expand our understanding.

Let us become a species of Bildung by having the courage to open and step into the door towards a global Renaissance 2.0.

Sign the Global Bildung Manifesto

You can do that right here:

You may also want to visit the Global Bildung Network:



Lene Rachel Andersen

Economist, futurist, author, full member of the Club of Rome. Works at Next Scandinavia, Nordic Bildung & European Bildung Network.