Media Academy » Overview

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change is a unique three-week action research and critical making program that brings young media makers together from around the world to critique and create civic media for social change. The academy focuses on responding to the wicked problems of the world, and values human connections and co-creation of media initiatives to solve them. We focus on developing media and digital literacies that can be applied to inform intractable issues that face us today. The arc of the Academy is as follows:

  • Mission - The Salzburg Academy challenges students and faculty to harness creative media to inform global problem-solving.
  • Vision - Our vision is to encourage a generation of innovators in journalism, communications research and information design who can drive institutional and community change at scale.
  • Strategy - Our strategy is to convene extremely promising students from highly diverse backgrounds, expose them to leading thinkers and practitioners, and support breakthrough collaborations that result in implementable practices, technologies, and designs.
  • Program - We partner with selected universities to identify students with remarkable promise, and to create a laboratory environment where media innovation can flourish, face-to-face and virtually.
  • Outcomes - Salzburg Academy faculty and fellows deploy media applications, analysis and reporting to produce specific breakthroughs in problem framing, understanding and solution.

Over 70 students and a dozen faculty from all five continents gather annually in Salzburg to work in international teams and across disciplines. Since be founded in 2007, a global network of young media innovators has emerged, with over 750 students, 150 faculty, and a host of visiting scholars and practitioners. In this time, participants in the Academy have built:

  • Prototypes plans for media innovation
  • Global Case Studies that explore media's role in the world across borders, cultures, and divides
  • Digital Vignettes that show media's impact on the world
  • Global Media Literacy Models for engaging communities to be more sustainable and vibrant in digital culture
  • A Network of young media innovators that work to lead and invent the future media industries best suited for success in digital culture

We have had the pleasure of welcoming the following visiting scholars:

  • Richard Goldstone - South African judge who helped bring down the Apartheid / UN chief prosecutor
  • Dana Priest - Pulitzer-prize winning journalist for CBS / Washington Post
  • Richard Ford - Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
  • Bianca Jagger - Social Activist
  • Tom Stoppard - Playwright
  • Henry Jenkins - Founder, MIT Center for Civic Media
  • Anthony Kennedy - US Supreme Court Justice
  • Liz Lufkin - Yahoo News front page editor
  • Charles Sennott - founder of the GlobalPost
  • Will Dobson - foreign policy editor at Slate
  • Lucio Mesquita - director, BBC Monitoring
  • Martin Weiss - Head of Press Dept, Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Maya Morsi - UNDP Egypt
  • Ivan Seigal - Director, Global Voices

Upcoming Sessions in 2017:

Salzburg Academy on Media and Social Change
July 16 to August 5, 2017


What Media Can Change

Voices Against Extremism - Media Responses to Global Populism
Voices Against Extremism - Media Responses to Global Populism
Aceel Kibbi 
Economic and social disorder have long proven to be key factors affecting the rise and decline of populism. Today, populism growing stronger in several countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland. Populist leaders are using their power to actively subvert the freedom of the press, threatening journalists and hindering free speech. This summer, over 80 students will fly from 10 countries and participate in the Salzburg Global session, Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism to explore how the media - in all its forms - can stem this tide.  The session is part of the Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change, an annual three-week program that brings together students from diverse academic backgrounds and nationalities to explore the intersection of students’ own experiences, their understanding of the media and how it can be used to address pressing global concerns. During the Salzburg Academy’s 11th session, participants will reflect on the media’s coverage of global populism, and analyze how the media is contributing towards it - and by harnessed to positively respond. Led by over 30 faculty and guest speakers, students will participate in a series of plenary sessions, reading groups, screenings and civic media workshops to create collaborative multimedia projects that aim to bridge divides, challenge global misconceptions and overcome intolerance. To bolster their creativity, participants will also be exposed to a diverse range of topics from documentary filmmaking, game design, data visualization, multi-platform storytelling and civic media activism. The Salzburg Academy will use this strategy to discuss personal narratives, discover how they connect, and harness the power of this connection to re-imagine public media narratives. Students from Emerson College, University of Argentina, Bournemouth University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Iberoamericana University, Lebanese American University, and other academic institutions will be guided by leading media practitioners, including Robin Wright from The New Yorker, Florian Scholochow, the founder and CEO of Mohemian and Brian Hanley from Internews. The Salzburg Academy celebrated its 10th anniversary last year in 2016. The session tackled the topic of migration and explored its portrayal in public media and digital culture. Students collaborated on dynamic multi-media essays that explored diverse and creative ways of connecting human migration stories in hopes of educating media consumers on the social, cultural and political impacts of global migration. Stories were published on “MOVE”, a publication created by faculty and students of the 2016 Salzburg Academy. Seventy years ago this summer, 97 exceptional young men and women gathered for Salzburg Global Seminar’s first session to examine America and heal war-time wounds after World War II. This year, the Salzburg Academy students will be meeting at the same time to stand in the face of extremism, proving that Salzburg Global’s mission to challenge current and future leaders remains just as true and important today.
Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long running multi-year program Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. More information on the session can be found here: You can also follow all the discussions on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashtag #SGSmedia.

Paul Mihailidis - Media literacy needs be intentionally civic
Paul Mihailidis - Media literacy needs be intentionally civic
Oscar Tollast 

In an attempt to decipher whether people are becoming less able to assess credibility in media reports, the New York Times has spoken to the Program Director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, Paul Mihailidis about the creation and spread of fake news.

Mihailidis, who recently launched a new graduate program, Civic Media: Art and Practice, at Emerson College in Boston, spoke to the New York Times as part of a Q&A.

Interviewed by Sydney Ember, Mihailidis was asked about the proliferation of fake news during the most recent US presidential election, mistakes made interpreting the news, and how people like himself are trying to combat these false assumptions.

Mihailidis also discusses the lack of trust in the media and how he’s attempting to teach students to interpret the news in a “polarized media age.”

Regarding this latter point, Mihailidis told the New York Times: “Instead of just critiquing the voice, we’re trying to help people think about their voice in the community, the agency they have and what means they take to participate. Media literacy needs to be about connectivity, about engagement — and it needs to be intentionally civic.”

Mihailidis is set to publish a paper this spring exploring the spread of fake news, arguing media literacy as it is currently imagined may not solve the problem. To read Mihailidis’ interview in full, please click here.

It’s not the first time this year Mihailidis has been spoken to by a media outlet concerning media literacy. In February, Mihailidis spoke to Slate along with Salzburg Global Fellow Renee Hobbs to discuss the role of media literacy in uniting a divided America. 

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, which Mihailidis directs, is an annual three-week summer program at Schloss Leopoldskron which gathers more than 60 students and a dozen faculty to explore media’s role in social and global change.

This year’s Academy, Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism, will take place between July 16 and August 5.

Students will learn and understand the key concepts of civic media, media literacy, global media, and civic imagination. 

Media Academy Fellow Taylor Gandolfi to appear at SXSW exhibition
Media Academy Fellow Taylor Gandolfi to appear at SXSW exhibition
Oscar Tollast 

An alumna of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change will showcase her work at an SXSW exhibition.

Taylor Gandolfi will appear at SXSW Create next month as a result of her project "My Robotic Hand".

SXSW Create is the hardware hacking and maker arm of SXSW. Gandolfi will be among drone users, biohackers, users of 3D printers and others who are developing solutions to shape our future.

Speaking to Salzburg Global, Gandolfi explained how the project originated. She said: "It was for my capstone project in grad school. I was going through ideas with my professor.

"I've always liked Arduino. I wanted to take that to the next level. I thought it would be cool if I had a robot in my portfolio."

Gandolfi applied to appear at SXSW Create in December. She found out her application was successful earlier this month.

She said: "I was super excited. I've always wanted to go to SXSW. It's the best tech conference around here.

"Being in the conference now, I get a badge to go to the whole thing after my exhibition."

Last year, Gandolfi attended the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Migration, Media and Global Uncertainty.

Gandolfi said: "I love to travel. I studied abroad in my under grad and then I saw this project. Sanjeev Chatterjee, he was the professor from my school. I have always been interested in civic media. It's really something good to be involved in. 

"It was a really good experience."

Gandolfi was one of 70 students exploring the role of media literacy in engaging citizens, journalists, and government bodies in cross-cultural dialogue about migration and its representation in digital culture. 

During her time at the Academy, Gandolfi created a Twitter bot to counter against negative tweets about refugees.

Each time a negative tweet was detected, the bot would send a tweet in response, tagging the original sender, and informing them of a positive fact to change the sender's opinion. 

"My Robotic Hand" has a website which outlines how people can build their own 3D printed robot. 

Gandolfi lists the necessary components, plus a how-to guide split into four parts. If users follow this guide correctly, they will end up with a fully functioning robot.

SXSW Create takes place in Austin, Texas between March 10 and March 12. 

Gandolfi will appear in the Open Source Pavilion. This area, presented by Red Hat, will celebrate the amazing things happening with collaborative engineering, open source hardware, and shared design.

Paul Mihailidis and Renee Hobbs discuss role of media literacy in uniting a divided America
Renee Hobbs and Paul Mihailidis speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar
Paul Mihailidis and Renee Hobbs discuss role of media literacy in uniting a divided America
Oscar Tollast 
How can media literacy education help unite the USA, bitterly divided since the recent presidential election? This was a question explored by Salzburg Media Academy Program Director Paul Mihailidis and Salzburg Global Fellow Renee Hobbs in a recent article for Slate titled "How to Inform a More Perfect Union". The article's author, Dana Goldstein, asks whether a push for media literacy and civics education could unite conservatives and liberals in the fight against fake news. As part of her article, Goldstein explores how Mihailidis analyzed the attitudes of students at the University of Maryland in a study which took place in 2013. Mihailidis, an associate professor at Emerson College, sampled students who were enrolled in a media literacy course and some of those who were not. The study found those who took the course were better able to critically analyze media sources. However, some of these students remained negative in their outlook, with certain comments raising concerns this could to a distrust of reliable organizations. Mihailidis says media literacy education needs to introduce examples of how the media can create positive change, as well as critique.  Speaking to Slate, he says, "Media Literacy is now being seen as a panacea or solution." Renee Hobbs, director of the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, attended the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change as a faculty member in 2012. Speaking to Slate, she explains how the origin of the media literacy movement can be traced back to the early 1940s. She adds media literacy education has "corrected misinformation and dealt with the question of whether media messages can and do tell the truth. That has always been fundamental." To read the full article on Slate, please click here. The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change is an annual three-week summer seminar which brings together more than 70 students across the world to explore the media's role in social and global change. This year the Academy will focus on Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism
Report now online Digital Crossroads: Civic Media and Migration
Lead author of Digital Crossroads: Civic Media and Migration, Paul Mihailidis at the 2016 Salzburg Academy
Report now online Digital Crossroads: Civic Media and Migration
Salzburg Global Seminar 
A report produced with input from this year's Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change is now online to read, download and share. Digital Crossroads: Civic Media and Migration has been published by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) in Germany and was written by Paul Mihailidis, Liat Racin and Eric Gordon. Mihailidis is the Faculty Chair and Program Director for the Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change, with Racin and Gordon also serving as faculty. In addition to their roles at the Salzburg Academy, all three academics work at the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, Boston, USA. The report follows the 2016 Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change that brought together 70 students, over 15 faculty members and additional guest speakers from over 15 institutions around the world, representing around 25 nationalities, to consider the role of media and digital literacy under the theme: Migration, Media & Global Uncertainty. Over the course of the three-week program, this international cohort of students and faculty examined the following two questions: How do we effectively utilize media and social technologies to tell the stories of migrants around the world? How do we change the narratives surrounding migration, from ones perpetuated by fear, to journalistic efforts built upon better frames, less bias and emphasis of universal human values? These questions are now reflected in the new report. As explained by the Engagement Lab: "The report examines the uses of digital media among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with migrants and refugees primarily in Europe. Based on interviews with leaders at over 20 NGOs, this report documents how organizations are thinking about digital and media literacies for combating xenophobia. NGOs are strategically leveraging various storytelling techniques to build effective communication campaigns that identify and respond to discriminatory messages and racist sentiments prevalent in public discourse. This report highlights seven key strategies for digital storytelling that is current practice as well as a five-part framework of emergent practice. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for the management of digital media programs and projects." ifa adds: "In the face of rising xenophobia, humanizing the lives of refugees and migrants cannot be done by statistics and big data alone. There are stories behind numbers, and these stories are integral for forging deep, emotional ties between receiving communities, migrants, and citizens of all backgrounds. Empathy can cultivate a common sense of belonging and shared future. How can NGO’s and communities effectively engage in participatory and dialogic storytelling about complex and nuanced issues, where there is room to highlight positives and negatives, and bring communities together? The present report calls this civic media, and asks how organizations working with migrants and refugees in Europe are using these technologies and practices and provides a framework for digital storytelling." The 60 page report (PDF) can be downloaded from the ifa and Engagement Lab websites for free. In addition to the ifa publication, the 2016 Salzburg Academy also saw the publication of a multimedia report from the students, MOVE: Media, Migration and the Civic Imagination which can be accessed online: 
Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: 10 Years Young
Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: 10 Years Young
Jessica Franzetti & Sarah Sexton 

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).
MOVE - Media, Migration & the Civic Imagination
MOVE - Media, Migration & the Civic Imagination
Jessica Franzetti 
The 2016 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. 
How do we effectively utilize media and social technologies to tell the stories of migrants around the world? How do we change the narratives surrounding migration, from ones perpetuated by fear, to journalistic efforts built upon better frames, less bias and emphasis of universal human values? These were but two of the questions posed during the three week-long Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change: Migration, Media & Global Uncertainty. This year's program marked the tenth anniversary of the Academy, and convened 70 students from around the world, whose work culminated in the digital publication, MOVE. It aims to educate its readers on the social, cultural and political impacts of mass migration.  Academy Program Director and MOVE Editor, Paul Mihailidis, attests to the relevance of young journalist and media students' publications as part of MOVE: Despite today’s advances in multi-platform storytelling tools, media and news organizations are struggling to tell deep stories of migration that meaningfully elaborate on how both home and away communities are impacted. Not all the news stories of migration are narratives that address key concerns of inclusion and diversity — or that call readers, listeners and viewers to critical reflection. Too often coverage trafficks in generalizations and faceless data, emphasizes stereotypes, and perpetuates the notion of migrants and refugees as being “different” from — and threatening to — those in the media’s audience. This Salzburg Academy project is a call to students who are media, news and digitally literate to consider how inadequate narratives about migration can be reconsidered. From these explorations we published multimedia essays that articulate how we believe our personal stories and human connections to those around us can enable us and others to be more inclusive, responsive, and understanding of migrants and the socio-political-cultural impacts of migration. MOVE includes student articles, interactive content and videos. The students worked in small groups throughout the Academy to create work that highlights the challenges faced by migrants in both leaving their home nations and in integrating, as well as the powerful role of the media in drafting migrant narratives.  Migration and Integration, a video created by Sandra Zawaideh, along with an article written by Zawaideh, Connie Chan, Eliana Azar and Jeremiah Kipainoi, focuses on migrant integration across a number of European countries. They were able to meet with Matin, a sixteen year-old refugee from Afghanistan who is being hosted by a local Austrian family. The below video features Matin, Edward Mortimer, a Senior Program Advisor to Salzburg Global and Mike Mackenzie, who has been working with Matin at the Minerva program in Salzburg. View the full article here Students, Nora Sakabedoian and Kaylee Largay created an article and accompanying video titled, The Silenced, which uses motion graphics of a young girl to discuss migrant worker exploitation and the importance of ethical consumerism. Read their article here. Another group of students, Julianna Barbara, Nicole Lipp and Rafael Diaz Ceballos, shared the stories of two migrants living in Austria. Nicole Lipp, whose mother has been working with two young refugees in Graz, Austria, arranged for a meeting with the students at Schloss Leopoldskron, providing them with the opportunity to speak with people who have have faced the arduous journey of migration and subsequently, integration. The video below is of Kadour, an eighteen year-old Syrian refugee, discussing leaving his home country. Visit here to read their full article and view additional videos.  Serving Up a Better Life, created by Sophocles Geroulis and Madison Gallup, tells the stories of refugees from around the world, who used their own cultural traditions and cuisine to connect with each other as well as their new communities. See the photos and read the article here.  These are just a few of the many videos, articles and interactive content that were produced during the program. The MOVE homepage which displays all student groups' work throughout the academy, can be found here. 
To learn more about the 2016 Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, including a comprehensive list of faculty and visiting scholars, key questions and participating universities, visit:   
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