Upcoming Program


Democracy is about ideas and narratives. Stories that provide a common set of facts, influence public opinion, and create majoritarian will. The President, the press, and the people are each primary authors of the American story. Whose version of events determines how Americans see themselves and how the world sees America?

Continuing our series on the future of democracy, the Salzburg Global American Studies Program will explore the roles and relationships between the executive branch in the US, the international media, and citizens of global democracy. Given the variety of voices shaping the public’s imagination, how have citizens productively participated in democracy in the past and how do they participate now? This multi-day online convening will consist of a series of “virtual town hall meetings” where we will explore how the media presents selected topics in American politics. 

This multi-component program will bring together a diverse interdisciplinary group from North America, Europe, South America, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia to identify and discuss the ways in which media coverage of the US presidency coincides and differs domestically and internationally.Participants will analyze which political, economic, and cultural trends the press chooses to highlight, monitor, and comment upon, in order to discuss how this influences world events, public response and the future of democratic institutions and civic engagement.

The public relies on the media to gain insight into how the president, and other world leaders, view key events, issues, and figures as well as how they use political, economic, and cultural crosscurrents to make policy choices. Nowadays, political leaders can speak directly to their public, engaging citizens in fresh ways or manipulating them to stoke grievance and division. Beyond the news, cultural representations of US presidents – real and fictional – have also long influenced how the world and the US views “leadership of the free world.” Other countries’ reactions to American presidential actions are influenced by their own national media markets and may in turn determine how those media report on their own heads of state.


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  • Four 60-minute virtual town hall meetings with Fellows and guest speakers
  • Interactive “simulation” exercises will provide opportunities for Fellows to build relationships and exchange ideas while exploring multiple scenarios
  • Adherence to the “Chatham House Rule” will enable all participants to speak freely

The 2021 program activities will build momentum for a major in-person program at Schloss Leopoldskron, Austria, in summer 2022 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of Salzburg Global Seminar, which launched American Studies as an internationally recognized discipline in its own right.


The 2021 American Studies Program will bring together 30-50 Fellows from the US and around the world, representing a diverse mix of academic and non-academic fields. They will combine perspectives from arts and culture, social commentary, historical and geographical analysis, and politics, business, and economics. Fellows’ backgrounds may include but are not limited to journalists, diplomats, activists, entrepreneurs and program builders. 


Town hall discussions will be captured and circulated in a dedicated quarterly American Studies newsletter, supplemented by interviews, features and Fellow-written op-eds.

series goals

Salzburg Global is leading a major non-partisan collaboration to help shape a future vision for American Studies in a radically changing world, with five specific goals:

  • Catalyze leadership by universities and American Studies practitioners through rigorous interdisciplinary analysis of the integration and practice of current democratic principles.
  • Activate cross-cutting networks of citizens, scholars and innovators working at the frontiers of democracy and inclusion in the United States and around the world.
  • Incubate new ideas, research collaborations and cultural projects for dissemination through international American Studies associations and networks.
  • Engage new and diverse publics in open dialogue across a variety of platforms, supported by innovative media products and virtual convening tools.
  • Position Salzburg Global Seminar at the forefront of the future evolution of American Studies around the world to mark the organization’s 75th anniversary in 2022.

To examine “how we see the world – and how the world sees us,” the 2021 American Studies Program will hold a series of interactive virtual town hall meetings. Each town hall will explore the intersections of the American presidency, press and people through a different lens. These lenses will include:

  • American history and society
  • American culture and society
  • American politics and society
  • American business and society

Through these lenses, the 2021 program series will seek answers to the following questions:

The President

  • Does coverage of the US president differ to other heads of state? 
  • What are the similarities and differences between coverage by the US press and the international media of the actions of the US president and other heads of state?
  • How has the media impacted presidential behavior?
  • How successful has the president been at controlling public opinion?

The Press

  • How has the style and scope of coverage and the development of new media altered the landscape of public discourse?
  • What has the global media landscape taught us about democracy, civic infrastructure, and accountability?
  • Is 24/7h media scrutiny turning “traditional” journalists from real-time historians?
  • Does traditional journalism continue to wield more legitimacy and impact than social media and new forms of reporting?

The People

  • Has public trust in politics eroded across the world or are new forms of democratic participation alive?
  • Who is a spectator and who is an active influencer of modern democracy?
  • How can the US and other nations reverse the decline in public trust in government and the media to re-energize democratic institutions and civic engagement?

Cost: $1100

The full package of the 2021 Salzburg Global American Studies Program includes:

3 x 60-min town hall meetings (Online, May 20, July 20 and October 20)

1 x multi-day program (Online from September 4-8) (full program TBA)

To register for this full package, please click here.


At Salzburg Global Seminar, we believe our conversations can be more valuable and our programs more impactful when participation is diverse and inclusive.

To ensure individuals from a wide variety of countries, sectors, and personal and professional experiences can participate in our American Studies Program, Salzburg Global offers a limited number of full scholarships and partial discounts to participants from universities, research institutes, think-tanks and non-governmental organizations; public officials from non-OECD countries; and to other exemplary individuals.

If you would like to apply for a scholarship or discount, please send your CV or brief bio and personal statement to