Students from Around the World Gather to Use Media Literacy to Change the World




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Students from Around the World Gather to Use Media Literacy to Change the World

Seventy six students from twenty countries take part in the ninth Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Students and faculty of the ninth Salzburg Academy on Media and Global ChangeSeventy-six students from 20 countries on five continents came together with three major global partners in Salzburg, Austria this month with one shared goal: to discover how digital media can tackle issues of both local and global concern.  The international cohort of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Global Voices, and led by academic, development and media experts, sought to develop innovative media tools to better understand media literacy and address challenges from climate change to women rights.Now in its ninth year, the Salzburg Academy began in 2007 as a partnership between Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland. This partnership has now expanded to include universities from across the world, as well as international media and development organizations. During the three week program at Schloss Leopoldskron, home of Salzburg Global Seminar, the students participated in skill-enhancing workshops and intense small group discussions; attended expert-led lectures; and ultimately developed case studies, innovative strategies, and media tools with the goal of creating real life impact in their local and global communities.Building on last year’s work with the UNDP’s Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group (KICG), the 2015 program – Civic Voices: Justice, Rights and Social Change – engaged another two international groups: the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Global Voices. The three partners presented the students with a specific challenge for which they had three weeks to develop media-based solutions: empower women, improve community resilience to climate change-induced disasters, and increase civic engagement through enhanced technology and online communities. The program was led by a keynote speech from Lucio Mesquita, Director of BBC Monitoring, on “Monitoring the News and the Challenges News Providers Face in Digital Era,” as well as lectures from representatives of each partner organization. Margot Steenbergen, a program officer from the Climate Centre, conducted a gaming workshop with students to help them understand the value of games in creating awareness about complex issues like climate change. Maya Morsy, regional gender team leader for the UNDP Regional Bureau of Arab States in Egypt, discussed the role media can play in empowering women through better representation. Ivan Sigal, Executive Director at Global Voices, discussed the power of the internet and online media in reaching communities under-represented in mass media and increasing civic engagement.Faculty from partner universities, guest lecturers, and visiting scholars, guided the students as they worked in small groups critically analyzing the three problems presented to them and developing in-depth case studies that reflected the issues of climate change, women’s rights and lack of online resources on a global scale and the role media can play in countering them.Case studies done by students presented diverse innovative solutions to issues like gender inequality within media industry, promoting marginal communities online, and building community resilience:Empowered by Art: Breaking gender stereotypesI Create Change: Building online presence for marginalized communitiesFloods in Europe and United SatesBooks on Board: Bringing Education to GirlsIn addition to lectures and workshops, the students were also treated to the world premiere of long-serving faculty member Roman Gerodimos’s short films, At the Edge of the Present, a short film on “urban coexistence,” as well as an advanced preview of the forthcoming A Certain Type of Freedom, which focuses on youth and the city. Students also worked in teams to produce their own videos, led by award-winning documentary makers Sanjeev Chatterjee and Rhys Daunic. These videos have now been collected into a “mosaic” showcasing their three weeks’ work.Students also worked on individual videos for their media action plans:Gender Inequality: #KarimWaLayla ComicFloodbuddies: Urban ResilienceMy Voice: Marginalized communities breaking stereotypesSoap Opera on Radio: Empowering Malian WomenAll participants took part in a weekly photo contest with the themes “I share therefore I am,” “Never mistake motion for action” and “All change comes from inside”. Outside of lecture halls and seminar rooms, students also got a chance to travel to the Mauthausen Memorial, the site of the former Nazi concentration camp.Mohammad Hasan, graduate student at Jordan Media Institute, had applied for the program because he wanted to learn “how we can engage together in an action and bring change regardless of our thoughts and ideologies.”“This experience will contribute in shaping new thoughts for me that will reflect on my community and my friends and my family, how to engage with them in an environment that encourages all of us to participate,” he said.Encouraged by her professor back at home, Leonida Kombo, an undergraduate student at Daystar University had applied for the Academy because she wanted to meet people from different countries.She said her time at the Academy has been an inspiring one, especially her interaction with other students. “You see things from a different perspective, you are in a new environment where people have different ideas on things. And things you thought were normal all over the world might just be unique to your own country and you start to appreciate people’s differences when you actually get to interact with them first hand.”As it has been from the start, the Salzburg Academy is not just “on Media” but also “Global Change,” and in the words of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, chair of the first ever session of Salzburg Global Seminar: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” 

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change is held in partnership with American University of BeirutAmerican University of SharjahBournemouth UniversityJordan Media InstituteEmerson CollegeIberoamericana UniversityPontificia Universidad Catolica ArgentinaSt. Pölten University of Applied SciencesChinese University of Hong KongUniversity of MarylandUniversity of Miami,University of Rhode IslandUniversity of St Cyril and Methodius, and University of Texas.