Media Academy

This is How Art Can Be Used to Imagine a Better Future
Pablo Martinez-Zarate at the Max Reinhardt Library, Schloss Leopoldskron
This is How Art Can Be Used to Imagine a Better Future
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Filmmaker Pablo Martinez-Zarate discusses how an archaeological excavation site in Mexico City inspired his latest work

Have you ever considered how media and art can be used as a site of memory? How media and art can help people to revisit history while questioning the present and the future?

These questions grew out of a presentation given by Mexican filmmaker Pablo Martinez-Zarate at the latest program of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

The filmmaker’s interest in bridging the divide between memory, territory and identity through film, photography and multimedia led him to create a research project calledDissections over Planes: Essay(s) from Tlatelolco.

Martinez-Zarate, who’s also a writer and artist, takes his audience on a journey into the history of Tlatelolco, an archaeological excavation site in Mexico.

He helps his audience rediscover Tlatelolco through analog film and virtual reality applications. Martinez-Zarate believes this rediscovery could have an impact on critical media and people’s world view.

“Tlatelolco is a very important site in Mexico City and in Mexico's history because Tlatelolco firstly used to be the sister city of the Aztec Capital then… it was home of the largest markets of pre-Hispanic Mexico,” Martinez-Zarate explained.

On October 2, 1968, a political demonstration took place in Tlatelolco Square, which would see Tlatelolco remembered for a different reason. The demonstration, which was organized by a student movement, was interrupted by gunshots fired from nearby rooftops.

The BBC reported the number of victims “has remained shrouded in mystery and controversy,” with figures varying between 30 and 300.

Martinez-Zarate said, “After that killing of students, Tlatelolco’s image started to change, people started to go out of Tlatelolco and all this modernity and development image that Tlatelolco used to condense started to crumble.”

Dissections of Planes is about exploring Tlatelolco “as a site of Mexican memory,” according to Martinez-Zarate. “It is a way of redefining what Tlatelolco can be in terms of Mexico's history, and how we can use Tlatelolco to understand ourselves…”

But why Tlatelolco for Martinez-Zarate? Did he have any personal connections with Tlatelolco?

“My grandfather used to be part of the original design team of Tlatelolco in the 60’s, so he was an architect, and he was a very active architect,” Martinez-Zarate revealed. “And since he was part of this design team, I inherited a lot of knowledge of the place… [and] I used to visit it with him.”

Beyond his artistic curiosity and having his grandfather as one of the architects who worked to modernize Tlatelolco in the early 60’s, Martinez-Zarate said he wants people, especially Mexicans, to question what they know about their history and question what they know about the present world.

“It's more about offering a window to different questions of the world. So I think these questions can actually lead to imagining new ways of being together,” he said.

Most of Martinez-Zarate’s works can be said to be “a crossover between research and artistic experimentation.” He is also one of several Salzburg Media Academy faculty who have contributed to New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy. Through his work, he tries to share the belief that “art is a way of reimagining our potential as human beings.”

“That's why perhaps, this German painter, Gerhard Richter said that ‘art is the highest form of hope,’ because I do believe that art is a weapon for building a better future. It ignites the imagination and lets us visualize alternative futures. And once we visualize this future, once we are able to imagine them, they can become real. If we are incapable of imagining the future, then we can't really think and build a better world. It depends on the imagination first of all, [and] I think art can actually provoke that.”

Pablo Martinez-Zarate is part of the Faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. 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.

Combatting the Crisis of Distrust in Media
Participants and faculty from the 2019 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global ChangeParticipants and faculty from the 2019 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change
Combatting the Crisis of Distrust in Media
By: Mirabelle Morah 

More than 70 participants  from around the globe take part in this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change to tackle the cost of disbelief, fracturing societies and the erosion of trust in media

More than 70 participants from universities and colleges around the world came together in Salzburg to combat the crisis of disbelief and erosion of trust in media.

Last month, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change brought participants together for its 13th program: The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and the Erosion of Trust.

During the 17-day program, held at Schloss Leopoldskron, the Academy hosted students from Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Participants discussed and debated crucial issues concerning fake news, the lack of trust in media, the cost of disbelief, the need for impartiality, plus other key challenges within the context of media in different countries of the world.

By the end of the Academy, participants had worked on six different projects, which fall under the umbrella name, “[re]BUILD: Interactive learning experiences for media literate societies.

[re]BUILD is a collection of interactive learning experiences and workshops designed to target issues of disbelief that ultimately fracture and divide societies. These projects include:

  1. Filter Bubbles and Fugitive Spaces: Curated by participants to assess individuals’ ability to form and take part in open discourse.
  2. Reclaiming the Fourth Estate: A learning experience that helps students focus first on building a foundation of trust before stimulating empathy.
  3. Generation Impactivist:Fostering trust by exploring shared social vulnerabilities.
  4. Finding Common Ground:Equipping people with skills to engage in more effective intercultural communication and recognize biases.
  5. Navigating News Media in an age of Information Explosion: A step-by-step guide to building a media literacy toolkit.
  6. Mazeum: An interactive learning experience where people go through a metaphorical maze where they will find information about a particular topic that is grappling the world, presented in different mediums and angles.

Before these projects were presented on the final day of the program, participants took part in a range of activities. Expert-led lectures, cultural tours of Salzburg and Gosau, a visit to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, as well podcasting workshops from Public Radio Exchange (PRX) – a leading media company – are some of the highlights that were intended to give the students rich and diversified experiences and lessons around leadership, media, journalism.

At the beginning of the program, Bangladeshi photographer and Salzburg Global Fellow, Shahidul Alam, delivered the Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture. Alam reminded participants that “giving up” was not a “luxury” anyone could afford, especially when fighting for a just and better world.

Throughout the Academy, participants were encouraged to think outside the box and work together while exploring new ideas and solutions to bring humans together and support inclusive and equitable media and civic systems.

Working together on different projects not only built the students’ skillset but also personally impacted them. “The way this Academy has affected my passion for advocacy is [in an] indirect way whereby being here, I've felt more validated, more accepted, and more confident than I've ever felt in my life before,” said Luce Hamdan who’s working towards a master's degree in interdisciplinary gender studies at the Lebanese American University.

Meanwhile, Joy Opiyo, from Daystar University in Kenya said, “When I came here, I really did not know what I was coming to do. I didn’t have very many expectations, except to learn. But the very first day that I got here, the very first speaker [Shahidul Alam] seemed to have come to speak to me. And I felt like his talk was actually good to me as a photographer, and he gave me purpose and vision for what I can do with this skill that God gave me, of photography.”

Isabella Miranda Pasquel Diez, a communications student at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico, said, “Can you imagine a world where there are no borders, where the only trip you need to make to get to know another culture is to walk to the neighbor's door? That's Salzburg Global Seminar.”

The Salzburg Global program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and Erosion of Trust, is part of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy
Karen Fowler-Watt at the Max Reinhardt LibraryKaren Fowler-Watt at the Max Reinhardt Library
New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Karen Fowler-Watt shares insight on new book, which comprises of contributions from the Salzburg Media Academy faculty

In an era of fake news, distrust and further uncertainties on the power of journalism and the role of the media, British academics Karen Fowler-Watt and Stephen Jukes have emerged with a new book, titled New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy.

Edited by Fowler-Watt and Jukes, New Journalisms explores a series of key themes, from the new challenges involved in defining the term “new journalisms,” to how a re-imagination of journalism education can lead to improving pedagogies, and how new journalism practices can be formed, offering new ways of telling human stories.

The edited collection brings together leading academics, journalists and emerging researchers as its contributors, many of whom are part of the faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. Launched in 2007, the Salzburg Academy now counts nearly 1000 alumni in its ranks from 70 countries around the globe, with 16 universities on five continents sending students to take part in 2019.

Karen Fowler-Watt is a senior principal academic at Bournemouth University in the UK, where she researches the need for journalism education at the university’s Center of Excellence in Media Practice. Speaking in an interview with Salzburg Global Seminar, Fowler-Watt shared more insight into the conceptualization of the book New Journalisms, as well as its content.

“The idea really came to my colleague, Stephen Jukes. He’s actually the reason that any of us came to Salzburg. He founded the partnership with Bournemouth University and the Academy [on Media and Global Change] when it was set up at the very beginning,” she disclosed.

“Both of us wanted to produce a book, which we wanted to be an edited volume, and wanted to put down some of the thoughts that we’d had, and we had been discussing with colleagues around reimagining journalism and rethinking journalism.”

The idea to produce a book on new journalisms, as Fowler-Watt explained, was immediately received with “huge energy.” The leading journalists and researchers with whom they discussed the idea had positive thoughts towards the subject matter and were eager to share their own knowledge in the book.

Speaking on the pluralization of journalisms, Fowler-Watt emphasizes that she sees the pluralization as important because New Journalisms does not only focus on the “new challenges facing journalism (in the singular), but also seeks to capture a range of new practices that are being employed across a diversity of media.”

One of the topics also covered in New Journalisms is the aspect of social media, which is playing an ever-greater role in the dissemination of information. Jukes and Fowler-Watt in New Journalisms highlight both the disruptive aspects of social media as well as the remarkable opportunities it provides, especially for citizen journalists, such as being able “to hear stories of normal life coming out of Syria,” Fowler-Watt recounted.

“This is not saying ‘professional journalism is the way ahead, forget citizen journalists’… We can be different types of journalists, and I think a key chapter is the ‘Global Voices’ one from Ivan Sigal who’s a Fellow of the Academy,” she said about the different types of journalism while referencing to the chapter on “Connecting publics through Global Voices.”

But further on social media usage, Fowler-Watt also has personal concerns about media literacy for a younger audience, especially with the outpouring of information and fake news on the internet.

“I think a concern I would say, is the inability or the lack of desire [for young people] to read further, and so a young person might feel that they’re very well-informed as they flick through their various news feeds.”

Information received via peers is more readily believed. However, Fowler-Watt has more concerns than disinformation and fake news. A more pertinent issue to her is “whether young people are reading in depth, are developing a critical awareness and a critically reflective approach to the media that they’re consuming,” Fowler explained.

New Journalismshas so far received positive reviews, and Fowler-Watt acknowledges Salzburg Global Seminar as a part of the success story for the book, calling the organization a “remarkable place,” while also being grateful to colleagues from the Salzburg Academy who contributed to the book, on various topics.

“Over a dozen years the Academy has driven a global movement for media literacy… and challenged scholars to rethink everything they thought they knew. Arising from this wind tunnel, New Journalisms offers thinking we desperately need to address information overload and manipulation,” Stephen Salyer, President and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar said in his endorsement of the book.

The chapters contributed by faculty from the Academy include: “New journalisms, new challenges” by Stephen Jukes and Karen Fowler-Watt; “Journalists in search of identity” by Stephen Jukes; “Connecting publics through Global Voices” by Ivan Sigal; “Images: reported, remembered, invented, contested” by Susan D. Moeller; “New Journalisms, new pedagogies” by Karen Fowler-Watt; “Civic intentionality and transformative potential of journalism pedagogies” by Paul Mihailidis, Roman Gerodimos, and Megan Fromm; “Emergent narratives for times of crisis – ideas on documentary art and critical pedagogy” by Pablo Martinez-Zárate; “Genocide and the mediation of human rights: pedagogies for difficult stories” by Stephen Reese and Jad Melki.

“This is not the first book that has come out of the Academy,” Fowler-Watt said in a cheerful voice and with a smile on her face.

“For me personally, as a little autobiographical moment here, it’s been an incredibly important project because it has really encouraged me to reflect on so much. I have developed relationships with people whom I respect hugely, massively and admire incredibly. And I feel that we are a group of people who would support each other, trust each other, [and] listen carefully to each other,” she emphasized.

On her future hopes for New Journalisms, Fowler-Watt hopes that the book will be disseminated widely enough for lay people – non-academics and non-journalists – to easily pick up and think about its content. She also hopes that it would be integrated into the teaching curriculum and be a book that journalism practitioners will value.

“It’s written in very accessible prose,” she said.

“[And] I think there’s something for a lot of different people to take away from it. I really hope so.”

More information about the book, New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy can be found here. 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.

Bringing People Together Through Education, Media and Rap
Chris Harris speaking at the Media AcademyChris Harris speaking at the Media Academy
Bringing People Together Through Education, Media and Rap
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Christopher Harris, associate professor of communication speaks about the unifying power of music and teaching

People go into teaching and lecturing for different reasons. For some, teaching is a means of making a living and for others it’s simply a way of satisfying their curiosity. But for Christopher Harris, teaching isn’t just a mere job – it’s his calling.

“I see teaching as a vocation. It’s both my calling and a way of making an intervention in this world,” Harris said while delivering a lecture to 75 students from around the globe at this year’s Academy on Media and Global Change.

Christopher Harris is an associate professor of communication at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Nevada State College in Henderson, Nevada, USA. His research focuses on media portrayals of ethnicity and the power of music – especially rap and neo-soul – to unify people.

Harris has been working with the Academy since 2016, and in a recent interview with Salzburg Global Seminar, he told of his earliest encounter with music and his role in using media, music and teaching as a way of unifying people.

“Hip hop and rap were like big brothers to me growing up, in terms of certain aspects of wisdom and ideas around the music,” Harris explains. “I remember they [the artists I listened to] would use ideas, and concepts and words that talked about the world,” he reminisces. Some of the hip hop artists Chris listened to included Scarface and AZ.

After participating in the W.E.B. Dubois Scholars program, an intensive leadership and academic program for African American students, Harris’ life changed. Attending the program between his freshman and sophomore years in high school, he explains that the program had a “huge impact on me, in terms of making me want to do something that would benefit the black community both in America and globally.”

The W.E.B. Dubois Scholars program was a stepping stone for Harris, creating in him a strong desire to improve opportunities for the Black community in America and beyond. Music is one of the major tools Harris thought to use in order to create the change he wanted to see, to build a much more unified Black community with a better future.

“The black banker listens to rap, the black custodian listens to rap, the black student listens to rap,” he explains.

While people go in their different directions, in their lives and their careers, Harris believes that the music that they listen to during the formative periods of their lives has the power “to unify [them positively] in a certain way.”

“Let’s use it [music] as a tool. Let’s use that as a site [for dialogue]. If it was a site for a conversation, then let’s go back. Music represents [an] informal transcript of a dialogue around the future of Black people. So let’s go back and pay attention to it and look at it and try to make sense of it and see what we can pull from it to use to further our efforts now,” Harris explains, voicing his strong beliefs in the power of music and positive lyrics.

To Harris, when a people are unified, they stand better chances of improving their future. The lyrics from rappers and hip hop artists contain messages that speak about the world and try to bring people together. Trying to unify people, however, whether through music, media or photography – as in the case of Shahidul Alam, who gave the opening keynote lecture at this year’s Media Academy – is never an easy task.

“If you’re ready to push for a more just world, you have to be ready for confrontation and conflict,” Harris told Academy students during his lecture. In his interview, he elaborated: “The people who rebelled throughout history, the people who [presently] push, the people who try to get us to a more just world do so because they look at what’s going on around them, they look at the demands of the current society and just say, ‘I can’t,’” he passionately emphasized, taking inspiration from the book, The Wages of Rebellion by Chris Hedges.

“It’s not about ‘I should.’ It’s not about ‘am I called to do this?’ ‘Is this a choice?’ They look around and they say ‘I can’t do these [conventional] things that this society demands of me [to fit into social stereotypes].’

In fulfilling his calling as a teacher, Harris seeks to help students to better recognize themselves in order to work independently and interdependently.

“In general,” he shared, “I just hope that students [at this Media Academy] find a way to push themselves to overcome whatever internal boundaries that they came here with; that were stifling them or causing them to hesitate from taking the risks necessary to make their own imprint on the world.”

Yearly, Harris also has to make deliberate efforts and decisions about whom he brings from Nevada State College to the Media Academy. He selects students with different backgrounds and different experiences because to him, “this Academy has had such a tremendous impact on me … I know what it can [positively] do [especially] when I saw what happened to students [who attended the Media Academy] in the past.”

For example, Harris explains that one student might have a lot of “passion and fire,” and might “want to do big things in this world but not know how to use their passion in an efficient manner.” He selects such a student with hopes that they learn how to prioritize and efficiently use their passion for good.

“I might want another student that may have never been on an airplane before they came here; may have never met anybody other than someone who is a Latino, African American or a Caucasian. Those are the only three types of people they've ever met in their life. So I want that person to speak with as many different people from as many different cultures as possible and just expand horizons of what they believe the world could be,” he elaborated.

On his hopes and expectations for the 75 students attending this year’s Media Academy, Harris shares that he wants his students “to get inspired by what’s going on here [at the Academy], and to really feel comfortable and confident that they made a good decision in terms of trying to use education to better themselves [and] add substance to what they are.”

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.

Shahidul Alam: “I Cannot Separate My Art from Politics”
Shahidul Alam speaks at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change (Credit: Katrin Kerschbaumer/Salzburg Global Seminar)Shahidul Alam speaks at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change (Credit: Katrin Kerschbaumer/Salzburg Global Seminar)
Shahidul Alam: “I Cannot Separate My Art from Politics”
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Bangladeshi photographer and social activist shares message on courage while delivering Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

“And then what happened this other day was, this woman had a baby, and she came up to me and said ‘Can you bless my child? I want him to grow up as brave as you.’ It moved me,” shares Shahidul Alam, both bashful and proud.

The Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist, Shahidul Alam, was at Salzburg Global Seminar to deliver the Bailey Morris-Eck keynote address at this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. He addressed the audience of budding journalists and media entrepreneurs on “Exposed Vulnerabilities: Learning to Trust.” Addressing students and university faculty from around the world, the award-winning photographer shared a powerful message that “giving up” was not a “luxury” anyone could afford, and that courage is contagious. When asked if he had an advice to give to his younger self, or if he had a word of encouragement to give to the younger generation of social activists and journalists, Alam responded by saying that there was no alternative to being “good at what you do.”

“You have to ensure that your presentation is right; it’s your job to ensure that you’re communicating correctly, [and] it’s your job to ensure that they make sure that everything is right for you.”

In 2018, Shahidul Alam was arrested during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, after which he was imprisoned for over 100 days and tortured for his involvement in social activism. He was eventually released on bail in November 2018, after many people around the world – including Nobel Laureates and many Salzburg Global Fellows – demanded for his freedom. During his address at the Academy, Alam said that “the biggest punishment” was to “take away a person’s freedom.”

Speaking to Salzburg Global in an interview after his lecture, the two-time Salzburg Global Fellow told of the importance of standing up to government and police repression.

“You have governments which come in for their own interest alone. And rather than serving the public, their task generally has been to squeeze as much out of the public resource, as they can for themselves.

“Similarly…” he continued, “the police is often used to serve the needs of the party in power. Forgetting that they are really answerable to the public.”

Adopting photography as a tool for social justice, Alam established Drik Picture Library in 1989 as a means of using “the power of the visual medium to educate, inform and draw powerful emotional responses to influence public opinion.” He believes that “building stronger institutions” is one answer to fighting against repressive governments, and that power “should never be concentrated on single individuals, but spread out.”

Many people have said to Shahidul Alam, “You’re an artist – why are you doing politics?”

But, he explains: “I cannot separate my art from politics.”

Part of ensuring that power is not concentrated comes in ensuring that local people own and tell their own stories, as well as reporting their own experiences.

“I think… as long as local people are [telling their own stories], they will understand the language; they will understand the cultural perspective. They will have the empathy, but they will also have an accountability to their audience and therefore, they need to be far more responsible in their reporting than they might otherwise have been.”

Having said that, Alam also recognizes that there could be blind spots when locals tell or report their own stories and therefore having an external perspective is not unhealthy. The problem, according to Alam, emerges when “external forces” or narratives from foreign correspondents become “far more powerful [than the narratives] from the local community, and that imbalance is problematic,” Alam explains, echoing sentiments he shared last time he was in Salzburg in 2016 for the programBeyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability:“Until the lion finds their storyteller, hunters will always be portrayed as the hero.”

Alam’s activism, high profile arrest and subsequent persistence in the face of adversity saw him acknowledged as one of TIME magazine’s People of the Year in 2018. It has been an unexpected rise to fame.  

Alam explains that before he was arrested, “I was known in professional circles and people like Sanjeev [Chatterjee] and people here [at Salzburg Global Seminar] knew me, and certainly within Bangladesh, my fellow professionals knew me. But the average person did not. Today if I’m in the streets, I get hugged by people. They have tears in their eyes. They tell me, ‘You said something which all of us wanted to say but we couldn’t.’”

After Alam’s arrest, his impact spread throughout Bangladesh and other parts of the world, as many became inspired by his courage. Alam tells the story of a woman who asked him to bless her child.

“It moved me,” he said. “I felt that here was a woman who was not bringing up a child to be saved from everything and [to] look after its own interests, but to have the courage to stand up for what is right. And when a mother is prepared to do that, I think there is a lot of hope for a nation,” Alam said.

“I think it cannot be that mother alone. It needs to be all of us. And while fear does create fear in other people, so does courage. And I think all it takes is for a few individuals to stand up and be counted, for others to rise up as well. And that’s what’s needed.”

The Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture on International Media, Economics, and Trade was established out of the generosity of Salzburg Global board member Bailey Morris-Eck and her family. The lecture is delivered annually at Salzburg Global Seminar programs. The Salzburg Global program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and Erosion of Trust, is part of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

Introducing the 2019 Media Academy
Paul Mihailidis at the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global ChangePaul Mihailidis at the 2018 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change
Introducing the 2019 Media Academy
By: Paul Mihailidis 

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

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.

Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
Manjeet Kripalani, pictured, is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (Photo: Gateway House)Manjeet Kripalani, pictured, is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (Photo: Gateway House)
Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
By: Oscar Tollast 

Co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations discusses her work and her experience at Salzburg Global

Manjeet Kripalani is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. She is also a Salzburg Global Fellow, having attended Mass Media in the Age of Globalization in October, 2000. At this point in her career, she was the bureau chief for Business Week magazine in Mumbai. Kripalani recently spoke with Salzburg Global to discuss the role of Gateway House, its successes, its challenges, and where its focus lies in the immediate future.

SG: Manjeet, thank you for taking the time to talk with Salzburg Global. To begin, can you tell us about Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, and the purpose behind it?

MK: We are a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, established to engage India’s leading corporations and individuals in debate and scholarship on India’s foreign policy and the nation’s role in global affairs. We are membership-based, independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit.

We are located in Mumbai for several reasons, to get a non-Delhi, non-landlocked perspective of India but also because Mumbai is India’s most international, cosmopolitan city, one with historical links to the outside world. Mumbai is also at the heart of the changing international matrix – globalization, terrorism, energy, environment, innovation, technology, nation-building, and the new geoeconomics. And it is home to the country’s leaders – corporate, financial, media, artistic and technological. Mumbai is, as our logo and brand depicts the gateway to India and our face to the world.

SG: As I understand it, you were inspired to establish Gateway House during your time as an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. What was it, in particular, that gave you that lightbulb moment?

MK: Three reasons: 1. The similarities between Mumbai and New York are obvious and were made even more apparent when I was at CFR. The pragmatic impact of business on America’s foreign policy is clear; it makes that country’s positioning and diplomacy more compelling and closer to the reality of people’s lives.

2. The participation of business, as members, of CFR, whether in meetings and discussions, in providing input on papers, in fund-raising and board positions, was active and impressive. I thought then – we can easily have a similar institution, a home for India’s internationalists, in Mumbai. As a business journalist who worked in both New York and Mumbai, I knew this was possible, and would be welcomed in India.

3. The time was right – India was changing thanks to the outsourcing of software, it was becoming a global participant, and it was the software business that was leading our diplomacy at that moment.

The actual moment when we became a reality for the public was [on] the 26th November 2008 [after the] attacks on Mumbai. No one knew who these attackers were, and the need for a think tank in Mumbai, which could study international affairs both economically and security-wise, was felt. Our funding came in right after this.

SG: What, in your opinion, are some of the success stories Gateway House can recount?

MK: There are several: 1. We are now nine years old, and still, the only major non-Delhi think tank in India, one which is independent, private and membership based. Our model is unique, and I don’t think easily replicable.

2. Our arrival has changed the dynamics in the think tank world, injecting a dose of cordiality into what is a fiercely competitive think tank landscape in India.

3. Because we are in Mumbai, our study area is geoeconomics and international finance, multilateral engagements – studies that have not been a focus in India. We parley that into global geoeconomic conferences and a deep study into the G20 financial agenda. We study with maritime affairs, given Mumbai’s coastal position, and data security, so important for India’s IT and other businesses.

4. We are the only think tank in India that creates visual research – maps and infographics, usually the preserve of consultants. It has given us the edge in our industry, and globally.  

5. We are perhaps the only think tank in the world founded by two women – one diplomat, one business journalist. We don’t play this up or parley it well enough in today’s politically correct world because we ourselves don’t feel any different from other entrepreneurs. But the input we receive from others is that the workplace is more congenial and that the special talents of individuals are nurtured and enabled to blossom.

SG: What are some of the challenges you've faced since establishing Gateway House? With hindsight, are there things that you would have done differently?

MK: Primarily, being founded by two women means that male-led institutional bastions do not treat women-led institutions with the same seriousness that they do the men’s club. We live with it, but we hope that soon it will change in India. I don’t think we would do anything differently.

There isn’t much recognition of the work and necessity of a think tank in Mumbai, for Mumbai. But as India is rapidly globalizing, we find that the knowledge of world affairs is gaining currency – and that’s where we come in.

SG: There are evidently a wide number of foreign policy issues to tackle. What's one area where more focus is required?

MK: A greater study of finance, of economics, of business, of media, of maritime affairs, of the blue economy, of technology. And less of a western lens in viewing the world. We need to build a body of literature and analysis, case studies, on India and its foreign policy.

SG: You've had an illustrious career. You've had an extensive career in journalism and gained significant experience in politics. In your current role, do you feel as if those experiences help you and provide you with an advantage in your work?

MK: No question that it does. A reporter is a researcher, a questioner, a tracker, following a quest that is persevering and who never gives up until the truth is found. A think tank does that and more – it develops an analysis of the same, and makes recommendations on policy-making.

Also writing is essential to communication. It is a skill, an art, a passion for me. Our website and papers do well because we do not write in dry, academic, jargon; we write in simple, clear language, so that ordinary people, young people – and in India, less literate people – can understand even the nuances of foreign policy.

SG: You attended a program of Salzburg Global Seminar called Mass Media in the Age of Globalization. What can you remember about this program? Did it have an impact on you in any shape?

MK: This was very long ago, but I do remember that it brought together groups of people from different parts of the world and from different areas of expertise and experience, all of whom were put together to bring forth a common solution. That has stayed with me as the defining characteristic of Salzburg. It taught me a lot.