Introducing the 2019 Media Academy

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Jul 10, 2019
by Paul Mihailidis
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Introducing the 2019 Media Academy

The 13th program of the Salzburg Global Academy on Media & Global Change will convene change-makers and storytellers from the world over to discuss how media infrastructures can renew trust and re-imagine community engagement Paul Mihailidis at the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change

This post was first published on Paul Mihailidis' Medium blog.

On July 16th, over 77 aspiring journalists and storytellers, along with over 30 faculty, activists and practitioners will convene at the Salzburg Global Seminar for the 13th Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change. This dynamic cohort will be tasked with responding to the current fracturing of social cohesion and the erosion of trust that are gripping communities and societies across the world.

Globally, journalism and public information exist across broken media architectures. Citizens are at the mercy of those eager to take advantage of platform infrastructures in which access, quality and diversity vary so wildly. Increasingly, politicians are taking advantage of these platform architectures to position people against one another. The result is a fracturing of belief, where truths splinter and trust erodes. Our digital environments are at the center of this fracturing, and our social and civic cohesion is at risk.

The Salzburg Academy will respond to this challenge by bringing together emerging media makers and storytellers to create speculative futures focused on media infrastructures that can renew trust, re-imagine community engagement, and inspire new norms for media platforms that support meaningful engagement in daily life.

In Salzburg, our dynamic group embodies transformative media pedagogies. Transformation, here:

  • focuses on core individual and collective identity construction and destabilization of norms to transform worldviews and ideologies. This destabilization then creates opportunities for more thoughtful collective civic sensibilities.
  • embodies the emancipatory power of media: where media makers understand their standpoint in the world, the people they want to reach, how they can use media to challenge power structures and advocate for social change at all cost.

Transformational media pedagogies, then, entail a necessary focus not only on the destabilizing capacity of education and human encounters as a form of transformation, but these pedagogies also embrace the design process as a core mode of transformative pedagogy.

The pedagogical processes and practices that embrace transformation are led by a global cohort of activist scholars, teachers, and practitioners. They come from around the world to provide experiences — conceptual, applied, experimental, radical — that work to push the boundaries of transformation through and with media.

In 13 years, the Media Academy has convened over 1,000 change-makers alongside over 150 faculty and visiting scholars. The journey has led to some dynamic outputs, but more importantly a global cohort of media makers committed to the values of transformation in their work and lives.

This summer, as we convene once again, I’m reminded continuously of power that temporary transformational experiences like the Salzburg Academy have on the lives of all of us who are committed to build more inclusive media systems and more powerful storytellers.

The 2019 Salzburg Academy participants will be exploring the difficult questions on their journey through this immersive experience. They’ll engage with world renowned journalists, filmmakers and activists. They’ll be exposed to sessions on podcasting, mobile filmmaking, and on world-building scenarios. They’ll learn to dance, to discuss critical issues, and to learn about common pursuits across differences.

Most importantly, their experiences in Salzburg will be about shifting dispositions, prioritizing the commitment to transformation and engagement in the world through and with media.

Follow our journey. Share in this transformational process: #sgsmedia Salzburg Global Seminar

Read about our Salzburg Media School initiative, and participate by contacting Paul Mihailidis (@pmihailidis).

2019 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change

These pressing realities of distrust within a fractured information ecosystem beg a number of important questions:

  • How can monopolistic and algorithm-driven platforms help build social cohesion instead of dismantling it?
  • How do we align journalistic systems and audience expectations to maximize trust and credibility?
  • What will it take to rebuild trust in our information ecosystems?
  • How do we cultivate meaningful and effective habits and dispositions in citizens that will catalyze engagement in both media systems and civic life?
  • What civic processes and structures help create and maintain activist momentum when online tools are co-opted for government purposes?
  • What does it look like to create effective transitions from “in the media” activism and to “via the media” civic participation?
  • What are legitimate pathways to public knowledge, and how can we democratize access to these pathways?

These questions will drive our inquiry at the 2019 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. Around the world, social fracturing is seen and felt again and again, from physical neighborhoods to the depths of online platforms that have normalized contempt for the other. Solutions to these complex problems are not straightforward. There has been much written about the need to re-engage in human connections that have been sacrificed for the convenience and speed of our digital platforms. Our global cohort will work to build responses to these problems that can inspire new approaches to journalism, favoring news environments that support human-centered values in our age of platforms.


The Salzburg Global Seminar program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and the Erosion of Trust, is part of the multi-year Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. More information on this multi-year series is available here.