Media Academy » Overview

The Salzburg Global Media Academy 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 830 students, 175 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 2018:

Salzburg Global Media Academy
July 15 to August 4, 2018


What Media Can Change

Analyzing the media's response to populism and extremism
Analyzing the media's response to populism and extremism
Aceel Kibbi 
More than 80 students from 25 countries have convened at Schloss Leopoldskron to take part in this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change - Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism. Participants are discussing populism and extremism in the media landscape, and will go onto create multimedia projects to unmask fake news and counteract intolerance.
Over the past few days, students have been asked to reflect on the devices employed by political leaders around the world, and recognize the importance of analyzing the media’s role in manipulating information and serving power over truth. Several faculty members have presented their research and conducted interactive workshops. Listed below are a few of the takeaways students have been able to gain so far.
On bridging cultural divides In less than 90 minutes of the program's start on Monday, students at this year’s Academy felt comfortable enough to share personal narratives about their identities and cultural backgrounds with one another. By doing so, they realized that they belong to one geographical knot that represents their diverse identities and values – they’re tangled in a multicultural web that would only fall apart were they fail to embrace their varied ideals.
On media literacy and active citizenship In the light of the steady decline of trust in mass media and the rejection of evidence-based journalism, students heard there is a need for a media-literate response. Students learned the differences between a media literate individual and an active citizen, while challenging the misconception the two terms have similar meanings. They also heard there was a need for new sets of constructs for how media literacy can be impactful in battling extremism. Students walked away with a better understanding of how digital culture and new legacy networks foster partisanship and diminish one’s capacity to identify problems. With a sharper critical consciousness, students will now be able to effectively cultivate agency and build mechanisms to push communities to respond to them.
On victimhood and social divisions The recipe for extremism has several main ingredients: blame, avoidance, attribution, and victimhood. Students learned how to challenge ideology by analyzing the definition of change, power, ignorance, freedom, resistance, populism and extremism. They also reflected on the dangers of victimhood and the ripple effect it creates - it divides people, breeds a competitive nature between them, and disempowers responsibility, which in turn fosters revenge, appropriation of general will and extremism.
On the ethics of journalism in covering extremism There are challenges to reporting on extremism while abiding by the code of ethics in journalism. Students learned the methodology journalists follow when selecting the proper tone, angle, sources, and multimedia elements for a story, while keeping the benefit of the public in mind. Through a series of thought-provoking case studies, students put these guidelines into practice. To challenge their intuition even further, students were shown how images could be used as a powerful tool to represent different sides of extremism. Students were also encouraged to critically evaluate mainstream media outlets’ journalistic standards. On creating relationships through imagination The students’ imagination was put into practice when they were asked to envision a future world in which they would aspire to live. Some of the components they discussed included citizenship, identity, media, justice, healthcare, environment, participation, identity, education, human rights, international reform, technology, and religion. Together, they experienced the power of civic imagination in harnessing social connections, forging solidarity and imagining alternatives to current social, political and economic institutions. Discussions continue next week.
Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long-running multi-year program, the Salzburg Academy on 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.
Robin Wright - “As long as we are trapped in our own sources of identity, we’re never going to find common ground”
Robin Wright - “As long as we are trapped in our own sources of identity, we’re never going to find common ground”
Oscar Tollast 

Acclaimed journalist Robin Wright helped kick-start this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change by reaffirming the need to engage with those with whom we disagree.

Wright, a contributing writer for The New Yorker magazine since 1988, and a joint fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, spoke on, “How did we end up here and where are we headed?” as she delivered the 2017 Ithiel de Sola Pool Lecture.

Recounting her experiences, having reported from more than 140 countries, Wright talked about her time in South Africa during the 1970s, being present at the Iranian Revolution in 1979, travelling with Pope John Paul II, reporting on the fall of the Berlin Wall, living in Lebanon during its Civil War, and reporting on the Arab Spring.

After her talk, Wright said, “I hope the students understand this is a period of epic human history, a period of transition, that the challenges they face in the 21st century are unparalleled [and] that [it] will take imagination and determination and vision to figure out how we make the transition from an era of nation states into regional blocs into globalization.” Wright indicated the same determinants would be required to create institutions that could address the challenges of the human race – be it governance, security, climate change, commerce, or equality in the labor force.

To tackle these challenges, Wright suggested people need to be prepared to become part of something bigger. She said, “The most important thing any person can do at any point in their life is stand on top of the world and look down, and try to get beyond our own sources of identity and security to look at what it’s going to take to resolve the challenges we face.”

Wright warned people to avoid getting locked into primordial instincts and primordial identities surrounding ethnicities, race, religion or gender. "Peace is only established when we understand compromise and the need for common good,” she said.

During this year’s Academy - Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism - students will reflect on the media’s coverage of global populism, how much it has contributed to its rise, and how it might be used to stem this tide.

“The real challenge is how do you get beyond communicating with someone whom you disagree,” Wright said. “Through almost half a century of journalism, I’ve always believed if you’re covering a war, you begin on the other side, because you know what you or your side wants or is fighting for. 

“It’s the same thing in a cultural clash and differences over world views, religion, and once we begin to understand the common denominators of the human dilemma, then we begin to find solutions. As long as we are trapped in our own sources of identity, we’re going to never find common ground. That’s the real challenge of the 21st century.”

While speaking to students and faculty, Wright urged them to go to places they felt most uncomfortable. A saying which appears on her computer is, “Do something today that scares you.” Wright described this moment in time as the “most important in history” and it was the turn of the students – the next generation of journalists – to chronicle it.

Wright spoke as part of the 2017 Ithiel de Sola Pool Lecture on the Impact of Communications Technology on Society and Politics. She has worked for outlets such as the Washington Post, CBS News, and the Los Angeles Times. Wright has also received the UN Correspondents Gold Medal, the National Magazine Award for reportage from Iran, and the Overseas Press Club Award for “best reporting in any medium requirement exceptional courage and initiative” for her coverage of African wars.

This Ithiel de Sola Pool Lecture was created in honor of three-time Salzburg Global faculty member Ithiel de Sola Pool, a pioneer in the development of social science and network theory. Dr. Pool served as a faculty member during Session 45, American Society, in 1956; Session 77, American Foreign Policy, in 1962; and Session 203, Development, Communication and Social Change, in 1981.

Watch Wright's lecture in full in the video below.

Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism is part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s long-running multi-year program, the Salzburg Academy on 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. 

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: 
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