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Mary Catherine Bateson Dies at 81

By: Astrid Schröder | February 19, 2021

With great sadness we learnt about the passing of Mary Catherine Bateson — scholar, writer, and woman of extraordinary insight and vision. In the early years of the Global Citizenship Alliance, we were blessed by having her join us as a faculty for some of our seminars thanks to the good offices of Bill Reckmeyer and Peter Rose, two of our long-term supporters who knew Mary Catherine as an esteemed colleague.

For her, there was an additional lure to follow our invitation to Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria, where the seminars took place since this was a location close to her heart. In 1947, when she was seven years old, her mother Margaret Mead took her along to Salzburg for the first summer school of what was then called “The Salzburg Seminar in American Civilization” chaired by Mead, together with a number of young professors from Harvard University. The summer school lasted for six weeks and the mystique of this special place left an indelible impression on young and uniquely inquisitive Mary Catherine. Sixty years later, we had the pleasure of inviting her back to this place for the first time and to hearing her thoughts as she was walking down memory lane.

In the years following her initial encounter with our program, she returned to Salzburg a few more times whenever her busy schedule allowed her to do so, imparting wisdom and inspiration in ways that captured the minds and spirits of everyone who listened to her. She relished in particular the informal conversations with our diverse groups of students which may have seemed to her as an example of the wholesome communities that she set out to describe in her final book entitled “Love Across Differences” which will be published posthumously.

We are mourning the loss and are grateful for the gift of Mary Catherine Bateson’s association with the Global Citizenship Alliance.

(See also the obituary in the NYTimes of January 14th, 2021)