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Students Worldwide Interpret Core Concepts Differently
Take a simple term: "Diversity," "Nature," "Freedom." Is the meaning of such core ideas shared across the world?
On July 24th, students and faculty from leading universities in 17 different countries* and five continents, gathered to attend the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change in Salzburg, Austria, to explore how digital media are affecting the creation and sharing of news and how, as future leaders in global journalism, they can shape things for the better.
The international participants are tackling how they as individuals and their cultural, religious, ethnic, racial, political and other distinctions influence how terms such as "Freedom" are understood and applied. Their guiding principle? If people in one room can understand how others "see" the world, differences can be acknowledged and bridged. They might disagree on what "diversity" means – but they also express hope that they can help the world become more literate about key issues.
To that end, students are creating lesson plans for faculty over the world to use to teach others about global issues; submitting surprising statistics from their countries of origin on a single topic and taking photos to illustrate key concepts. A wide range of image entries have forced students to debate what gives them power and meaning (see Diversity Contest and Human Presence in Nature Contest). Still another exercise involves submitting a caption for an image presented to them without any label or context.
The results and their open discussion by the group, have allowed participants to reflect on their own conceptions – and misconceptions. These activities also take place to further explore the meaning of "global" and to raise awareness of the responsibilities these young professionals hold as communicators.
The participants are hearing from digital journalism pioneers as well, researching cross-cultural treatment of major news stories, and creating comparative case studies that illustrate vital choices facing journalists as well as news consumers in the digital age.
As is true across the range of programs and initiatives, the Salzburg Global Seminar encourages Academy participants to be "hard on the issues but easy on each other"; the space for an open and respectful dialogue has been created where the common language apart from English, has been the action of "listening". Day to day, they awake to an unrelenting task: to move beyond their personal paradigms and comfort zones to understand how different cultures perceive the world, how this affects the news that is shared and how specific framing and narrative shape perceptions of the world.
They are the fifth group to participate in the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change at Schloss Leopoldskron, a 18th century palace famous as the movie "home" for the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music. The work the students are producing this summer will join the work of students and faculty from previous years on a website that hosts curricular materials used in over 100 countries around the world.
The Salzburg Academy began in 2007 as a partnership between the Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, but quickly attracted partner universities from across the world that are home to leading journalism and communications schools.** To read more please visit the website of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.
*Argentina, China, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Syria, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States.
** American University of Beirut (Lebanon), American University in Sharjah (UAE), Bournemouth University (UK), Hofstra University (USA), Makerere University (Uganda), Polytechnic University of Namibia (Namibia), Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Argentina), Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Chile), Quaid-i-Azam Univeristy (Pakistan), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Tsinghua University (China), Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico), University of Maryland, College Park (USA), University of Miami, University of Texas, Austin (USA), Zayed University (UAE), Syracuse University (USA) and University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava (Slovakia).
posted on: 05 August, 2011
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