Academy Students Narrow down Project Ideas Ahead of Presentations




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Jul 29, 2017
by Aceel Kibbi
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Academy Students Narrow down Project Ideas Ahead of Presentations

Takeaways from the second week of the 11th Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Students working together during the second week of this year's Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

Students at this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change are one step closer to transforming their thoughts into actions following a busy week of activity.

The second week of this year’s Academy - Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism - saw students working closer together in their groups ahead of their final presentations next week.

Design-focused workshops helped inform the students’ creative thinking process as they brainstormed ideas. Pitches encompassing these early ideas were made midway through the week, enabling students to garner feedback from faculty and make improvements to their work.

Listed below are some of the takeaways students walked away with ahead of the final week of the program.

On challenging the value gap with empathy

Students were asked to think about the inequalities that prevail in their communities and reflect on how the media reinforce and/or challenge those beliefs, habits and practices. After exchanging their reflections, students understood value gaps operate similarly around the world and that, more often than not, the media re-emphasize those gaps. Therefore, students were asked to develop a moral imagination, one driven by empathy, and centralize their media making around it to transfer that empathy to others and shake the pillars of inequality.

On telling the stories of the victim and the perpetrator

Definitions of terrorism, extremism and victimhood are often in state of flux in the media, and these “mediated” definitions have proposed countless challenges to storytellers and journalists. Students were introduced to the communication strategies practiced by leading media producers and extremist political regimes. As they reviewed a series of case studies, they tried to untangle the symbiotic knots that connect media and populism together. They formulated a conclusion that terrorism has become a media spectacle that’s being abused by populists to ignite fear. Students were advised to interrogate journalistic norms, minimize sensationalism in reporting, and fully immerse themselves in the stories they tell.

On critical media making and social innovation

Commodification has infected the media industry with sameness and has put future media makers at the forefront of innovation. Students discovered how creative acupuncture could be used to challenge mainstream media producers and inform consumers about social issues. They were introduced to various forms of media, including print, audio, video, photo, games, and other interactive formats. They also explored the means of creating and designing civic media that challenges social norms and preserves cultural integrity. By examining design thinking methods and participatory mechanisms, students discovered the potential of games and play in creating meaning, cultivating care, inviting participants to engage in social issues, and motivating them to search for solutions.

On confronting the past and moving forward

Ahead of a poignant trip to the Mauthausen Memorial, students gathered for a screening of Night and Fog - a documentary produced in 1956 depicting the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. Students were asked to critically think about the power of media in creating narratives of change, documenting events and providing perspectives on extremism and populism. In an effort to face the challenges that plague our world today, students and faculty entered a space of open dialogue, reflecting on the past and future. Students and faculty recognized the importance of developing a sense of responsibility which goes beyond the limitations of their own beliefs, norms and communities.

Discussions will continue next week as students make the finishing touches to their projects. Final presentations will take place on Thursday.

Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long-running multi-year program, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. More information on the session can be found here: You can also follow all the discussions on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #SGSmedia.