Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: 10 Years Young




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Aug 09, 2016
by Jessica Franzetti and Sarah Sexton
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Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: 10 Years Young


Founded in 2007, this summer marks the tenth year of innovative program 10 years of the Salzburg Academy for Media & Global Change

The 10th Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change culminated the work of their three week-long program on the multi-media platform, Medium. Their videos, articles, and multi-media content are displayed in MOVE: Media, Migration, and the Civic Imagination. It can be found here. 

Marking 10 years since its launch, this summer’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change convened 70 students from across the world to take on the issue of mass migration. There has been no shortage of coverage of the “migration crisis,” but the headlines often highlight stories of conflict and political cross-fire. The Salzburg Academy challenged its participants to examine critically how the media shape public attitudes toward migration and how such a polarizing issue could be framed to support more civic-minded responses.

The topicality of this year’s migration theme directly reflects the vision the Salzburg Academy’s founders had 10 years ago, as well as Salzburg Global Seminar’s current focus on issues of global concern. 

“In setting Salzburg Global’s future course in 2007, we realized that every global problem needs to be communicated clearly for solutions to be found. Already undergoing a digital revolution, we also wanted to address how media can inform and engage citizens using all the tools in a changing kit,” said Stephen Salyer, former president of Public Radio International in the United States before joining Salzburg Global and co-founding the Salzburg Academy. 

With the guidance of his co-founder and first year program director Susan Moeller, Professor of Journalism and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, the Salzburg Academy was launched to inspire and prepare a next generation of media trailblazers. In partnership with universities on five continents, the Salzburg Academy over the past decade has engaged more than 650 students, many of whom are rising into leadership positions in media, public policy, technology, and more.

Each year, the Salzburg Academy addresses how a current global issue is treated and influenced by media. Topics have ranged from media literacy to global warming to this year’s focus on migration. Whenever possible, the Academy’s theme reflects an ongoing priority of Salzburg Global’s innovative programs for global leaders, which draw participants from government, business, NGOs, and academe. Academy research and project work ensures that media’s role finds a place in these strategy- and solution-oriented sessions organized by Salzburg Global.  

Over the course of each summer’s three-week Academy, competitively selected students hear from top experts and collaborate in small, faculty-led groups. This year, they produced analysis of how traditional and citizen-led media present the migration issues, and considered how “civic imagination” can suggest better framing and more human-centric narratives. Their work culminated in a digital publication, MOVE, showcasing personal stories using multi-media to focus on people on the move around the world (available here). 

Over its 10 years of constant evolution, the Salzburg Academy has become a worldwide beacon for change in how media are conceived and how universities address journalism and communications studies. In 2013, Academy participants studied 1,000 students in 10 countries on five continents who agreed to abstain from using all media for 24 hours. Findings from this “Unplugged” study were featured by leading newspapers, broadcasters, and bloggers worldwide. That same year, Jad Melki, long-time Academy faculty member and now professor at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, launched a three-week Media and Digital Literacy Academy of Beirut, modeled after the Salzburg Academy. This program was the first of its kind in the Middle East. Many other collaborations have been spawned by the Academy, including a program to teach media literacy in high schools in Mexico City.

The Academy has pioneered in developing new teaching methods and partnerships with private and governmental groups. During 2014, 71 Academy students collaborated with the United Nations Development Program to help the UN agency address challenges in advancing the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. Students wrote proposals articulating how media could address a multitude of development topics. By the end of the year, 10 Academy faculty members had jointly published a book titled Mediated Communities: Civic Voices, Empowerment and Belonging in the Digital Era. The publication is one of many written by Academy faculty as a result of their engagement with the program.

Through 10 years of programming and approximately 650 Academy alumni, Salyer, Moeller and Paul Mihailidis, Academy Program Director and Professor at Emerson College, have led the evolution of the Academy. To honor the Salzburg Academy’s 10th Anniversary and encourage efforts to ensure participant diversity, co-founders Salyer and Moeller announced the creation of a $5,000 scholarship for an African student to attend the 2017 Academy. They called on Academy alumni and friends to match their gift and help expand the Academy’s ability to offer financial support to the world’s most promising young media entrepreneurs.  

“For the next ten years, the Academy will continue to evolve and adapt,” said Academy Program Director Mihailidis during an interview with Salzburg Global. “The central role of media across cultures, borders and divides will remain integral to civic engagement. We will continue to respond to the pressing challenges and wicked problems of our time and to do it with rigor, depth and quality.”

In video interviews with Salzburg Global Seminar, Stephen Salyer, Susan Moeller, and Paul Mihailidis reflected on the Salzburg Academy’s first 10 years and hopes for the coming decade.



For more information regarding the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, including, faculty and guest scholars, programming and key questions during the past ten years, visit:

Universities that have sent students to the Salzburg Academy since 2007 include: American University of Beirut (Lebanon), American University of Sharjah (UAE), Bournemouth Univeristy (England), Chinese University of Hong Kong (China), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), Daystar University (Kenya), Emerson College (USA), Florida International University (USA), Furman University (USA), Hofstra University (USA), Iberoamericana University (Mexico), Jordan Media Institute (Jordan), Lebanese American University (Lebanon), Makerere University (Uganda), Nevada State College (USA), Polytechnic University of Namibia (Namibia), Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Argentina), Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Chile), Quaid-i-Azam University (Pakistan), Southwest University of Political Science and Law (China), Stellenbosch University (Republic of South Africa), Tsinghua University (China), University of Colorado (Boulder), University of Maryland (USA), University of Miami (USA), University of Nairobi (Kenya), University of Southern California (USC), University of St. Cyril and Methodius, Trnava (Slovakia), University of Texas (USA), Zayed University (UAE).