Past Program

Session Overview

Ever since Salzburg Global Seminar was founded in 1947 as the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, critical dialogue about American society, history, literature, culture, politics, economics and law has played a vital role in our organization’s development and legacy. The annual symposia now convened by the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association focus on key questions and conflicts influencing American society and culture, in order to foster understanding of how these are influenced by, and influence, the rest of the world.

This landmark session in 2017 has particular resonance in the year of a new US Presidential Administration. Drawing on the seventy years of cross-border exchange that began at Schloss Leopoldskron in the aftermath of war, this multi-disciplinary conversation will examine what the “American Dream“ means in today’s world and assess progress in the United States towards fulfilling that potential. Participants will discuss the quality of life and sense of justice in the United States from a contemporary perspective, including the domestic and global implications of the new Administration in a visibly polarized society.

Life in America is predicated on fair and equal treatment and the expectation of protection by constitutionally-assured rights and justice. Issues such as civil rights, personal safety, pluralism, and access to educational and economic opportunities both challenge and contribute to the quality of life of Americans of every age, gender and ethnicity.

The session will explore historic events related to social progress and literary reflections of the nature and quality of life and justice in America. The function of legal and political institutions at federal, state, and local levels will be examined alongside qualitative dimensions of family, social and personal lives to better understand changing patterns and risks to the social fabric.

Our ultimate purpose will be to compare the historic “Promise of America“ with today’s realities, and to forge ideas and projects that help towards realizing a good life for all in America.

Participant Profile

Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) symposia connect scholars and thought leaders from around the world to build collaborative networks for research and critical debate.

The 2017 session - the 15th SSASA symposium - will bring together approximately 40 participants from more than 25 countries. In addition to public and private sector professionals, participants will include academics teaching about the United States in universities across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Central, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the United States. We actively encourage participation by sociologists, representatives of the legal profession, immigration experts, civil rights activists, and other individuals working on issues at the heart of protecting and improving contemporary life in America and ensuring its constructive global involvement.

Questions and Issues

Issues to be addressed during the session include:

  • How do demographic changes and immigration issues reflect social tensions and raise questions and problems about the quality of life for those concerned?

  • How and in what way has the availability of education affected mobility and fostered success and/or failure in America?

  • How do social and economic class stratification relate to and affect the quality of life, fairness, well- being and justice in American life?

  • In what way does the distribution of wealth, parity of income and availability of employment opportunities affect and contribute to fairness and justice?

  • What does the nature and degree of incarceration indicate about justice and the quality of life?

  • How have these matters changed and/or evolved over the past seventy years?

  • Does the American justice system function fairly and in what way might it benefit from radical change?

  • How does the electoral system and congressional representation promote and support or otherwise affect and represent fairness, equality and justice?

  • How and in what way are policy proposals and changes by the new administration likely to affect life, justice, health and welfare of Americans?

Multi-Year Series

Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)

The academic discipline of American Studies was born in Europe in 1947 with the first-ever program at Schloss Leopoldskron. The Salzburg Seminar in American Studies is widely credited as being the founder of the European American Studies Association in 1953. A dedicated American Studies Center was created in 1994, leading in 2003 to SSASA’s establishment.

Today, Salzburg Global hosts one of the oldest continuous and independent American Studies programs in Europe. Many prominent intellectuals and academic and non-academic professionals have come to Salzburg, building a vibrant international network. SSASA’s annual symposia make a vital contribution to promoting open dialogue on themes critical to America and the future of American Studies.

More information can be found here.