Life and Justice in America - Implications of the New Administration

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Sep 21, 2017
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Life and Justice in America - Implications of the New Administration

Participants from more than 20 countries convene for 15th SSASA symposium The U.S justice system is among the topics being discussed by participants at this year's SSASA symposium

If you search for the definition of “the American Dream” online, you’ll find several interpretations. Merriam-Webster defines the concept as “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful.” Collins Dictionary, meanwhile, says the dream is “the notion that the American social, economic, and political system makes success possible for every individual.” In these definitions, we can see a different emphasis placed on the role of the individual and the role of the structures in place in obtaining success. 

This question of what “the American Dream” means in today’s world will be among the topics discussed at the 15th Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) symposium – Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration – which begins on Friday.

Just over 40 participants from more than 20 countries will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria for the five-day program. Attendees include academics teaching about the United States in universities across the world, sociologists, representatives from the legal profession, and individuals working at protecting and improving contemporary life in America.

Together, this group of participants will explore historic events related to social progress and literary reflections of the nature and quality of life and justice in America. They will also examine the function of legal and political institutions at federal, state, and local levels alongside qualitative dimensions of family, social and personal lives to better understand changing patterns and risks to the social fabric.

Participants will consider such issues as: economic equality and the distribution of wealth as it relates to race and gender; the management of policing and civil rights; fair application of legal protection; availability of employment and equal opportunity; and other prevalent matters.

The session format will include daily thematic presentations by distinguished speakers, which will be followed by plenary discussions, as well as panels on topical issues. The aim of the session is to compare the historic “Promise of America” with today’s realities and influence projects which help toward realizing a good life for all in America.

Marty Gecek, SSASA progam director, said, “The topic has particular resonance in the year of a new U.S. presidential administration. Drawing on 70 years of cross-border exchange that began at Schloss Leopoldskron in 1947 in the aftermath of the war, this multi-disciplinary conversation will examine what the “American Dream” means in today’s world, and will assess progress in the United States toward 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.”


The Salzburg Global program Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration 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.