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American Studies (SSASA)

How Can Culture and Politics Help Us Understand America?
Participants of the 16th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)
How Can Culture and Politics Help Us Understand America?
Oscar Tollast 
The 16th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) reached a successful conclusion with participants gaining a better awareness of the political, social, cultural, and institutional tensions currently existing in the United States. After four days of discussion at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, participants of Understanding America in the 21st Century: Culture and Politics left with new perspectives on the complicated nature of domestic and international forces driving America. This year’s program featured thematic presentations on populism, race, gender, America and the world, and – more specifically – the relationship between America and Russia. Participants also took part in discussion groups which focused on American literature, film, and the United States Supreme Court. Toward the end of the symposium, participants took part in café discussion groups. Topics included: Hollywood and contemporary American society and culture; America’s role in world affairs; Teaching race, sex, gender and class, and political correctness; and Trump era politics and American science fiction literature. Christopher Bigsby, professor of American Studies and director of the Arthur Miller Institute for American Studies at the University of East Anglia, was the guest speaker chosen for the inaugural Ron Clifton Lecture in American Studies. Bigsby, who has also won awards for his academic work, fiction and biography, gave a presentation titled “Trying to Understand America.” This lecture was created to honor Clifton, an ardent and loyal supporter of American Studies programs at Salzburg Global Seminar for nearly 30 years. He has served on the faculty, or as chair, of more than 20 American Studies programs. Last year, he and his wife Gwili created the “Clifton Scholarship in American Studies.” Clifton was unable to attend this year’s symposium but did speak to participants at the beginning of the program through Skype. In her closing remarks, Marty Gecek, chair of SSASA, said, "As of today, we have completed 16 symposia under the auspices of SSASA - the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association. We've had some very animated discussions over the last days on the very incredibly timely topic of trying to understand America. I am sure that you have gained insights from the presentations and the panels, and I hope that you have made very valuable, professional and personal contacts during your stay here." Understanding America in the 21st Century – Culture and Politics features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on Twitter by following the hashtag #SSASA.
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Understanding America in the 21st Century – Culture and Politics
Photo from Unsplash by Courtney Hedger
Understanding America in the 21st Century – Culture and Politics
Oscar Tollast 
Why is the United States of America so hard to understand? This question is one of several which participants of the 16th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) will explore over the next few days. This year’s program – Understanding America in the 21st Century – Culture and Politics – is bringing together more than 50 people from all corners of the planet to Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria. For the next four days, participants will assess topical questions and issues related to American culture and society. One goal of the program is to foster intellectual analysis and discussion between professionals and academics about the factors shaping the future of personal life and communities in America. Participants will achieve this goal by attending thematic presentations by distinguished guest speakers, which will be followed by moderated plenary discussions and breakout workgroups to investigate topics further. Issues to be explored at this year’s program include: In what way are increased social, political and cultural tensions a product of demographic shifts, changes in leadership, or issues of gender, race relations, the politicization of immigration, and crime and punishment and judicial fairness in the U.S.? What explains the loss of trust that America is currently experiencing and what are the implications for the future? What are the most dynamic factors, specifically including the distribution of wealth and educational opportunity that are contributing to the polarizing of society and politics? To what degree does an analysis of popular culture and cultural institutions, such as political, economic, educational, and the arts foster an understanding of America?   To what extent does American populism and nationalism differ from that presently being experienced elsewhere? In what way and manner has the expectation and conduct of political leadership changed in the 21st century? The Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association and its precursor – the American Studies Center – have organized more than 30 American-themed seminars. The study of America has played a long and vital role in the history of Salzburg Global Seminar. Previewing this year’s symposium, Marty Gecek, the chair of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association, said, “Our purpose is to understand the origin and nature of the political, social, cultural and institutional tensions currently occurring in the United States. Our plan is to analyze and discuss the likely directions of changes in America over the next decade, drawing on recent developments since the 2016 election as well as political and cultural trends leading up to the midterm elections of 2018. Participants will gain a better understanding of the complexity of domestic and international forces impacting and driving America in the 21st century." Understanding America in the 21st Century – Culture and Politics features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on Twitter by following the hashtag #SSASA.
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Salzburg Global Fellows Sign Former US National Security Officials’ Letter to President Trump
American flag
Salzburg Global Fellows Sign Former US National Security Officials’ Letter to President Trump
Salzburg Global Seminar 
More than 250 former US national security officials – including four members of the Salzburg Global community – have joined a rare public campaign to rebuke President Donald J. Trump for withdrawing the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, who has become a vocal critic of the president. On August 16, 15 American former senior intelligence officials from bipartisan presidential administrations signed an open letter condemning President Trump’s decision as “an attempt to stifle free speech.” William H. Webster – the first and only person to have served as director of both the CIA and the FBI and who at age 94 continues to serve on the advisory board of Salzburg Global’s Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law – was among the signatories.  Bipartisan outcry over President Trump's revocation of Brennan's security clearance continued to grow with the release of a statement of opposition signed on August 17 by 60 retired CIA officials and then on Monday by another 177 signatories spanning a wide range of national security jobs. Among them were Salzburg Global Fellows John B. Bellinger, III, former legal counsel, National Security Council; Antony Blinken, former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor; and Eliot A. Cohen, former counselor of the US Department of State and former member of the Defense Policy Advisory Board.  The statements indicated that while the signatories do not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed by Brennan, their signatures represent a firm belief in Brennan’s right to express them, as protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  See the full list of individuals who publicly opposed President Trump’s decision here. The changing political climate in the US has been a point of discussion at a number of other Salzburg Global Seminar programs in the last two years, building on long legacies of programs in American studies, the rule of law, and the role of media.  In September 2017, the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) held a symposium on Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration, the report from which was published in January 2018, marking the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.  Letter signatories Webster and Bellinger (who delivered the 2016 Cutler Lecture shortly after Trump’s election and served as Webster’s special assistant at the CIA) voiced their support for the intelligence community during the Salzburg Cutler Fellows program in February 2018. Speaking to a group of students from 11 top US law schools, the two mentors defended the intelligence agencies under fire from President Trump and called on the aspiring lawyers to help rebuild public trust.  In July and August 2018, students from around the globe examined the implications for journalism in the “post-truth” world at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.  Salzburg Global Seminar will continue to examine, debate, and dissect the political climate in the US when academics, Americanists, political scientists, cultural professionals, and public servants convene at Schloss Leopoldskron in September for the next SSASA symposium, Understanding America in the 21st Century: Culture and Politics.   Questions for discussion include “What explains the loss of trust that America is currently experiencing and what are the implications for the future?” and “In what way and manner has the expectation and conduct of political leadership changed in the 21st century?” It is exceedingly rare for intelligence professionals who spent most of their careers in the shadows and who tend to abstain from politically-charged public disputes to launch such a public campaign. However, in the initial statement issued on Thursday, the former intelligence leaders wrote that they felt “compelled to respond in the wake of the ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and actions taken by the White House.”  Such unprecedented remarks – and the responses they provoke – will provide much fodder for discussion at Salzburg Global programs for many more months to come.   
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Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Louise Hallman 
“How does a relatively small but influential NGO help shape a better world? That is the question Salzburg Global Seminar set out to answer as we entered our 70th anniversary year,” explains Salzburg Global President & CEO, Stephen L. Salyer in this year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle.  Founded in 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has the mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. Our multi-year program series aim to bridge divides, expand collaboration and transform systems.  Features This year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle puts forth this renewed mission and strategic framework of the 70-year-old organization through a series of features and mini profiles of our Fellows and their projects. A Positive Space in a Polarizing World From Students to Statesmen Combined Efforts, Maximum Effect  From Ideas to Impact Radical Reinvention From Local to Global Campaign The Chronicle also announced the launch of Salzburg Global’s largest-ever fundraising campaign. Inspiring Leadership: The Campaign for Salzburg Global Seminar will seek to raise $18 million over the next three years to expand our scholarship program, invest in developing innovative solutions to complex problems and secure this organization and our historic home of Schloss Leopoldskron for generations to come.  “Campaigns are about vision. They support critical, compelling and transformational priorities,” states Salyer. “The Campaign Inspiring Leadership  — gift by gift, investment by investment — will empower people, policies, and placemaking that can transform the world.”  For the Love of Humankind From Scholarships to Schloss Renovations Yearbook Now in its fifth year, this year’s Chronicle is for the first time accompanied by a “Yearbook.” As Clare Shine, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer explains: “Our 2017 Yearbook draws these rich strands together. It provides an overview of our activities and partnerships in Salzburg and around the world, highlighting our multi-year program goals and the concrete outcomes driving short and longer-term impact. We wish you good reading and look forward to working with you in the future.” Download the Yearbook (PDF) You can read all the stories and download both sections of the 2018 President’s Report on the dedicated webpage: www.SalzburgGlobal.org/chronicle/2018 
 
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Linell Letendre - Justice Requires a Culture of Leadership, Professionalism and Respect
Linell Letendre - Justice Requires a Culture of Leadership, Professionalism and Respect
Oscar Tollast 
As Colonel Linell Letendre spoke in front of her fellow participants at the 15th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), her charge was to discuss how the concept of justice and diversity has changed in the United States military over the past 70 years. Letendre, permanent professor and head of the Department of Law at the United States Air Force Academy, reflected on integration efforts concerning race, gender, and sexual orientation. This approach was to see if any lessons could be learned for society-at-large – both the good and the bad. In March 2010, then-US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates issued a directive for a working group to conduct a comprehensive review of the issues linked to repealing the policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The policy had prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing service personnel and applicants about their sexual orientation (“don’t ask”) – but it had in turn also prohibited all servicemen and women from being open about their sexual orientation on threat of dismissal (“don’t tell”). Letendre was a part of this group, working as a legal advisor and as an editor for the subsequent report. During their research, Letendre and others looked at integration efforts involving race and gender and the responses from serving personnel interviewed about it at the time. Speaking to Salzburg Global during the symposium, Letendre says, “In the mid-‘40s to the late ‘40s, when the service members were interviewed, over 80 percent were violently against any sort of racial integration of the services. We saw similar percentages with respect to gender when we began more gender integration across specialities and particular jobs across the service. “In contrast, in 2010, when a very large survey [on DADT] was done of the Department of Defence, we saw almost a complete reversal of that [percentage]. Approximately, 70 percent of the service members essentially said, ‘Well, this isn’t  going to be that big a deal,’ and only 30 percent had any sort of concerns about open service of gay and lesbian service members.” In July 2011, after receiving recommendations from military leaders, then-US President Barack Obama certified to Congress that the US armed forces were prepared for the repeal of DADT. On September 20 that year, the policy was successfully repealed and no longer in effect in the Department of Defense. Letendre admits there is speculation as to why the survey responses differ for each experience of integration. She says, “When we were racially integrating the military, that was taking place in the late ‘40s, early ‘50s, and we still had Jim Crow laws across the South that had a required societal segregation as opposed to integration. The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in contrast was coming at a time when LGBT rights were an integral part of society. It’s just a very different aspect when you think about the civilian versus military and where each was at the time of integration efforts.” From a military perspective, Letendre says there are three things which are fundamental for justice to take place. She says, “It requires a culture and a climate of leadership, professionalism, and respect. If you can foster that climate where everyone – from the private soldier or the young airman all the way up to the senior leaders – is demonstrating those three attributes... I think it goes a long way toward achieving that ideal that we talk about, the American Dream: that ideal of justice and fairness and an equal opportunity for all to succeed.” Last year’s SSASA program – Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration – was divided up into three themes: 70 years of trends and events, quality of life and opportunity, and fairness and justice.  Letendre says the conversations taking place were “critically important.” She says, “I think conversations like the ones we’re having here in Salzburg where we think about how various disciplines are concerned about what justice means can only help us to inform and have better dialogue in the pursuit of what the American Dream is.” In her position at the United States Air Force Academy, Letendre leads a team of staff, which is responsible for the design and teaching of 19 core and elective law courses, legal support to the administration of the Cadet Honor System, and the development of officers of character for the US Air Force. When asked what inspires her to do the work that she does, she says, “One amazing part of being a professor is that you’re part of the education and learning of the next generation and the next leadership generation. That’s no different at the United States Air Force Academy where we take very seriously the idea of developing leaders of character. “Being a part of  that   – to develop our nation’s future leaders who have within them a sense of purpose, a sense of character and understanding of the rule of law and the appropriate place for justice and so forth – that’s what   inspires me not only to come here and have that conversation with other individuals from around the world in Salzburg, but that also inspires me to be a professor at the United States Air Force Academy.” Read more in our new session report  
Download the report as a PDF Colonel Linell Letendre was a participant of the Salzburg Global program Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration, which is part of Salzburg Global’s multi-year series Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA). More information on the session can be found here. You can follow all of the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SSASA.
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A Message from Our Vice President and Chief Program Officer
A Message from Our Vice President and Chief Program Officer
Clare Shine 
As 2018 gets underway, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your continued engagement with Salzburg Global Seminar. In reflection of a landmark year celebrating Salzburg Global Seminar’s 70th anniversary, I wanted to look back on the journey traveled, new projects and horizons. Our 2017 theme of “Courage” resonated throughout this turbulent year. The 1947 vision of Salzburg Global’s founders – a “Marshall Plan of the Mind” to revive dialogue and heal rifts across Europe - felt fresh as ever. Cracks widened in societies and institutions across the world, compounded by a mix of insecurity, disillusionment, and isolationism. Yet the world should be in a better position than ever to tackle common challenges. There is an open marketplace for ideas, innovation, and invention, and opportunities to engage and collaborate are growing fast. In Salzburg, we are privileged to meet individuals from all walks of life who have the courage to tell truth to power, confront vested interests, express artistic voice and freedom, build coalitions for change, and see through tough choices. In divided societies, people need courage to stay true to their beliefs. Leaders need courage to curb their exercise of power. Together, we need courage to rekindle our collective imagination to rebuild society from the bottom up and the top down.Three strategies guide our own work for this purpose.1. Given Salzburg Global’s roots in conflict transformation, our programs seek to bridge divides: Our American Studies series – a discipline born at Schloss Leopoldskron – focused on Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration, including the roots of economic and racial division;The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change had its highest-ever participation on Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism and published an interactive playbook “Against Populism”;Our Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention series is now applying tools developed in previous years to promote pluralism and tolerance and address issues of radicalization and violent extremism. Pilot projects to test these approaches are under way in five countries (Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt) with the potential to expand to other countries;The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum marked its fifth anniversary with a major report assessing the influence and personal impact of a cross-sector network that now spans more than 70 countries and has inspired new partnerships and cultural initiatives. 2. Salzburg Global Seminar aims to inspire new thinking and action on critical issues to transform systems, connecting local innovators and global resources: Our high-level leadership programs address fundamental components of dynamic and inclusive societies. We now have three annual series - Forum on Finance in a Changing World, Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum, and the Public Sector Strategy Network – and have begun a new collaboration with major foundations on Talent Management for Effective Global Philanthropy. We have expanded our work on Health and Health Care Innovation with ambitious initiatives, including the five-year Sciana Health Leaders Network which marks a groundbreaking crossborder partnership with The Health Foundation (UK), Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and Careum Stiftung (Switzerland), and a major partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation aimed at building a shared culture of health.Education for Tomorrow’s World is going global! As an outcome of our 2015 and 2016 work on innovation for social and emotional learning, we are convening meetings over 15 months in Latin America, the Middle East and Gulf, and North America. These will inform a synthesis session in Salzburg in December 2018 to frame lessons learned for decision-makers in the education sector and other key stakeholders. 3. Salzburg Global seeks to expand collaboration by fostering lasting networks and partnerships: The Young Cultural Innovators Forum, created in 2014, now has 18 city/country hubs across the world, and held its first US inter-city meeting in Detroit;We’re expanding alliances in Asia with long-standing and new partners. The Asia We Want: Building Community through Regional Cooperation is laying foundations for a bottom-up innovation network for A Clean and Green Asia. November saw our first-ever program with the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong, focused on 30 rising leaders across the public, private and civil society sectors.The Salzburg Statement on The Child in the City: Health Parks and Play (Parks for the Planet Forum) was showcased at the World Congress on Public Health in Australia and will feature in webinars for US city leaders, working with the National League of Cities and the Children in Nature Network. After six years living in Schloss Leopoldskron and meeting the most diverse and talented people imaginable, I often hear myself describe Salzburg Global Seminar as “deeply human.” 2017 brought many reminders of the special bonds forged during our lifetime and the enduring need to advance trust and openness around the key issues facing today’s world.  Thank you again for your commitment and recognition of Salzburg Global’s importance in your professional and personal development. We hope you will consider joining other Fellows who have already made a donation to Salzburg Global this year. Please click here to learn more. With very best wishes from everyone at Salzburg Global Seminar, and we hope to welcome you back to Schloss Leopoldskron in the near future.
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Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration
Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration
Salzburg Global Seminar 
In September 2017, 57 academics, professionals, practitioners, observers, and students of American Studies from 25 countries, convened at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria for the session Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration. As this weekend marks the one year anniversary of Donald J. Trump's inauguration as president of the United States on January 20, 2017, it is a timely occasion for the publication of the report from the 15th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA). Since its founding in 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has been examining, debating and dissecting America and its culture and institutions. Drawing on the 70 years of cross-border exchange that began at Schloss Leopoldskron in the aftermath of war, the multi-disciplinary four-day program examined what the “American Dream” means in today’s world and assessed progress in the United States toward fulfilling that potential.  Fairness and justice, immigration issues, incarceration practices, demographic changes, implications and challenges of new policies, and the fulfillment of domestic and foreign expectations were all key elements of focus for the session. The ultimate question for scrutiny and discussion was “How does the apparent reality of life and justice in America today reflect on the historic ‘American Dream’ and the ‘Promise of America,’ globally and in the United States since the founding of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies in 1947?” This report offers summaries of each of the day’s thematic discussions and a list of resources provided by the participants, as well as interviews with some faculty members and speakers: Elaine T. May: Despite being preoccupied with safety, Americans have made themselves less secure Lecia Brooks: Dedicated to ending injustice in America Linell Letendre: Justice requires a culture of leadership, professionalism and respect Dreamscape: Exploring race and justice in America Asif Efrat: The new US administration has shown less interest in international cooperation Nancy Gertner: “Lawyers should effect social change” Chris Lehmann: American justice is still a model for the world – but a flawed model  
Download the report as a PDF To request a print copy, please email press[at]salzburgglobal.org
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