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

Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change - Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change
Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change - Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change
Rachitaa Gupta 
This year the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices - Justice, Rights, and Social Change will see over 70 students and a dozen faculty members from 25 countries spanning over six continents come together for a unique three week program on media literacy and engaged global citizenship. For the past eight years, participants have been gathering annually in Salzburg to work in international teams and across disciplines on dynamic media literacy action plans that address some of the largest challenges our world faces today. This summer, faculty and students of the 2015 Salzburg Academy will engage with three NGO partners: Red Cross Crescent; The United Nations Development Program; and Global Voices. These organizations will be visiting the 2015 Academy to explain their work, their use of and relationships with media, and the local, regional and global “problem space” that they have identified as being of concern.  With the help and direction of the NGO partners, students and faculty at the 2015 Academy will build MAPs — Media Action Plans — to help understand the affordances and limitations of media for social impact. They will work collaboratively to build prototypes and pedagogies that explore how digital media platforms, word and image-based tools, and journalistic storytelling can address major social and civic challenges in the world today. With a strength of over 400 students and 50 faculty members, the Salzburg Academy has worked extensively in the past eight years to produce entrepreneurial plans for media innovation, and a network of young innovators that work to lead and invent the future media industries best suited for success in digital culture. The Salzburg Academy Fellows have also worked to produce 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; and global media literacy models for engaging communities to be more sustainable and vibrant in the digital culture. Digital media are reshaping civic life from how we consume and share information to how we understand and communicate about ideas and issues we care about. While the impact of digital media on our culture can seem overwhelming and dire at times, it has also led to a host of new and innovative ways to engage and activate communities.  Media Action Plans explore how digital media can build stronger communities of action around issues that matter. The 2015 Salzburg Academy will explore three key global issues of our time — rights, expression and responsiveness — in collaboration with the Red Cross, the UNDP, and Global Voices.  This year faculty and visiting scholars will provide grounding lectures on media literacy, news literacy and civic media, as well as lead screenings and facilitate workshops and discussions.  Over the next three weeks, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change will see students and faculty work together on using media to empower communities of action. Much of the learning will be student initiated and driven, and will occur through work on case studies, civic art projects and multimedia production.
To read and join in with all the discussions in Salzburg, follow the hashtag #sac2015 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices: Justice, Rights, and Social Change is part of the Salzburg Global series “Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change” and is  held in partnership with American University of Beirut, American University of Sharjah, Bournemouth University, Jordan Media Institute, Emerson College, Iberoamericana University, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina, St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Maryland, University of Miami, University of Rhode Island, University of St Cyril and Methodius, and University of Texas.
Innovation and the Collision of Ideas
Innovation and the Collision of Ideas
Louise Hallman and Tanya Yilmaz 

How can you discourage bribery in Moldova? Or tackle water shortages in Mexico? Or reduce carbon emissions and deforestation in Indonesia? For the United Nations Development Program, the answers might be found in Salzburg, from enterprising media students from all over the world.

Since it launched in 2007, the students and faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change have contributed to research on a multitude of topics, from young people’s attachment and possible addiction to social media and their mobile phones, to the use of images during the Beijing and London Olympics. In 2014, their research had real world impact as the 71 students teamed up with the United Nations Development Program to help the UN agency address real-life challenges in advancing the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Led by Jennifer Colville, a policy advisor in the UNDP’s Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group (KICG), the students at the 2014 program, Civic Voices – Justice, Rights and Social Change, made proposals on how media can be used to address the challenges around youth unemployment and livelihoods, climate change, human rights, and corruption.

The emerging field of “gamification” – the use of games to raise awareness and engage citizens on a pressing development issue, build empathy among those who might have differing opinions, and ultimately change people’s behavior with regard to the issue – is one particular area in which UNDP’s KICG is developing a growing interest.

“UNDP is trying to be more innovative,” explains Colville [link to colville interview]. “One of the things we’re looking at is gamification. We’re also looking at a whole host of other things like behavioral science, foresighting, social innovation camps, labs, hubs, challenges… A key piece of the innovation agenda is the communications aspect of it. We’re trying to ‘work out loud’ or communicate more frequently throughout the entire process of development for a variety of reasons: so that more actors are aware of and become involved in the process, so that feedback can be heard as early on in the process as possible, and so that information and knowledge are shared more broadly across projects. Better communications can help us design and deliver more effective projects with our partners.”

As part of their more innovative approach, the UNDP hosts regular research and development (R&D) events, and it was through such an event that Colville and the UNDP became involved in the Salzburg Academy, thanks to the Emerson Engagement Lab, led by Salzburg Academy faculty member Eric Gordon at Emerson College, Boston, USA.

“Last year our regional [R&D] event in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (ECIS) was on behavioral science and gamification, and Eric, with the Emerson Engagement Lab, was invited to that. Then we had him come and speak to colleagues in New York and he started to work with a number of our country offices as well. And he said ‘We’ve got this [Academy] going – it would be great for you to come and give the development perspective!’” Colville explained.

The 2014 Academy’s group work builds on Gordon’s Ithiel de Sola Pool Endowed Lecture on the Impact of Communications Technology on Society and Politics at the 2013 Academy, in which Gordon laid out how, by playing-learning games such as 1990s school hit, Oregon Trail, and direct impact games like Darfur is Dying (where one must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attacks by Janjaweed militias), opportunities for learning and empathy can be realized in a much more accessible manner than by simply reading books or listening to lectures.

It is this sort of innovative thinking that Colville was looking to harness from the 2014 cohort of Salzburg Academy students. 

“There is a tendency to go towards the new kinds of media but one of the groups I was speaking to basically felt that even that was old hat. ‘An app is so 2013!’” laughed Colville. “And so that’s great because they want to push [innovation] even further, and that’s what we at UNDP hope to get from our interaction with young people. As we develop programs for young people, it’s really important for us to work with them to push boundaries.

“I think what it would be great to have from them is that out-of-the-box thinking. There is the new and the ‘out there’ thinking that I’m looking for – the different perspective they bring is invaluable,” she added.

Over three weeks, under guidance in-person from Colville and Gordon and via Skype from UNDP country offices around the world, students from 23 different countries developed Media Action Plans (MAPs) of a campaign, reporting tool or game to tackle real-world issues. 

The students’ solutions included: “DROPIT” – 

a website using GPS mapping to catalog water scarcity in Mexico; an Instagram campaign – #WEThiopia – to raise awareness about poor water access in Ethiopia; “i-Toil” (India To Overcome Immoral Labor) – an online petition calling for the implementation of legislation to protect domestic workers in India; “Youth Bridge” – a whistleblowing and teacher review app in Armenia to counter corruption in education; and “Raise The Roof” – an app offering advice on urban agriculture in Indonesia. 

The team behind the Moldovan proposal – the game “Bribe?” which offers Moldovan citizens a better understanding of the motivations behind corrupt teachers, students, and parents – was featured on the Voices from Eurasia blog by the United Nations Development Program in Europe and Central Asia. The game is now being further developed and designed by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, led by Gordon.

Following the success of the 2014 partnership, the UNDP, together with the Red Cross, will be returning to work with the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change in the summer of 2015. 

Colville congratulated the 2014 students on their “inspiring and encouraging” work, adding, “I know [my colleagues] are very excited about looking at what some of these opportunities might be for their country offices.”

Colville and her colleagues might be turning to Millennials to help find solutions to the world’s development challenges, but that’s not to say that they are no longer listening to the older generation.

“The demographic shift is calling for a response and an engagement with youth – we cannot ignore it and we don’t want to ignore it,” says Colville. “But we’re not only engaging the youth; it’s part of a broader effort that the UNDP is trying to undertake with our international partners to reach out to a variety of voices that we haven’t traditionally heard from. It is about hearing all these different voices – that’s where this collision of ideas happens and where the great ideas can emerge.” 

Download the Salzburg Global Chronicle 2015 in full (PDF)
Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Faculty Publish Book
Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change Faculty Publish Book
Salzburg Global Seminar 
It is hard to imagine an area of modern life that is not in some way influenced, impacted or interrupted by the ubiquity of digital media. We are living in a time of rapid change — times shaped and molded by the influence and intrusion of digital media into nearly every facet of life.  It is these rapidly changing times and how digital media has changed communities and people’s sense of belonging that is the subject of a new book Mediated Communities: Civic Voices, Empowerment and Belonging in the Digital Era.  The book is a cross-continental collaboration between ten members of the faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, edited by three-time faculty member Moses Shumow, Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Florida International University, USA. According to Shumow, the explosive growth of digital forms of communication in the past 20 years has fundamentally altered the way we interact with one another: how politicians engage with their constituents, teachers with their students, parents with their children. Digital communications have shifted the ways in which we are informed, educated and entertained, and the ways in which we advocate, agitate, organize, fall in love, bully and just connect.   It is from the concept of community that civil society emerges. Mediated Communities: Civic Voices, Empowerment and Belonging in the Digital Era explores how the ways that people now communicate have changed this idea of community.   Communitarians and others have long envisioned that close bonds of communal living will foster and encourage the concern for others — a concern that leads ultimately to civic engagement. In an effort to update this concept for our times, Mediated Communities presents new iterations of social spaces that create transformative avenues for civic action and empowerment in the digital era.  Drawing on a global cohort of academics, educators, and professionals, contributors to the book use the theoretical framework of media literacy as a heuristic tool to investigate how digital media are changing notions of community and belonging.  Contributors also trace the shifting role of the civic voice, in the midst of news forms of interconnectivity that are acting to both unite and fracture traditional social structures. 
The book is published by Peter Lang and available to purchase online. 
Editor: Moses Shumow, Assistant Professor School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Florida International University Authors:
  • Cornelia Bogen, Tsinghua University, China
  • May Farah, American University of Beruit, Lebanon
  • Megan Fromm, Independent Researcher, German
  • Roman Gerodimos, Bournemoth University, UK
  • Manuel Guerrero, Iberoamericana University, Mexico
  • Stephen Jukes, Bournemouth University, UK
  • Monica Lenguas, Iberoamericana University, Mexico
  • Paul Mihailidis, Emerson College, USA
  • Rosemary Nyaole-Kowuor, Daystar University, Kenya
  • Christian Schwartz, Pontífica Católica Universidad, Argentina
Re-envisioning Salzburg Global Seminar
Re-envisioning Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Salzburg Global Seminar proudly presents its new periodical, The Salzburg Global Chronicle. Replacing the traditional annual President’s Report, the new publication “chronicles” Salzburg Global’s programs at Schloss Leopoldskron and around the world, including profiles on both “up-and-coming” leaders and high profile Salzburg Global Fellows, and features on the impact Salzburg Global Seminar, its programs, staff and Fellows have in the world beyond the Schloss.

Highlights include:

15 Faces for the Future  

Salzburg Global Seminar’s mission is to challenge current and future leaders to tackle problems of global concern. To this end, Salzburg Global brings young, emerging leaders to Schloss Leopoldskron, not only for our Academies programs, but for every Salzburg Global session. Nearly 500 of our 1844 Fellows who attended sessions between 2011 and 2013 were under the age of 40, in addition to the more than 800 Academies participants. Below are just 15 of our remarkable young Fellows.

The Power of Partnership 

Salzburg Global Seminar’s programs would not happen without our partners. Partners provide not only the intellectual capital and input to drive the session forward but often the much needed financial capital necessary to bring Fellows and faculty to Salzburg. But what do partners get out of working with Salzburg Global?

A Distinct History, a Universal Message  

For three days, at a palace once home to the local Nazi party leader, experts from across the globe considered the value of Holocaust education in a global context at a symposium hosted by Salzburg Global and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. They proved the Holocaust is more than just a European or Jewish experience.

Strength in Diversity 

LGBT rights are moving up the international agenda, and while progress is being made, at the same time some countries are passing increasingly regressive laws. In June 2013, Salzburg Global convened its first ever Salzburg Global LGBT Forum addressing LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges, Next Steps, starting a truly global conversation.

An Unlikely Constellation of Partners  

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Appalachian College Association, member institutions of which serve predominantly white students, do not seem like the most obvious of partners. But this did not stop them from coming together to transform their schools into sites of global citizenship through the Salzburg Global Seminar-led, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Mellon Fellow Community Initiative.

Media Change Makers

Since helping to launch the program in 2007, Salzburg Global President Stephen L. Salyer has taken a hands-on role in the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: helping to devise the program, delivering lectures and mentoring students. This year, he met with student representatives from each region represented at the eighth annual program to find out how the Academy is helping shape them. The Chronicle is available online at and to download as a PDF and in our ISSUU Library    Download the Salzburg Global Chronicle as a PDF Print copies are available at Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron and all upcoming Salzburg Global Seminar events and programs.
Anwar Akhtar: "The films in Pakistan Calling are manifestos for peace"
Anwar Akhtar: "The films in Pakistan Calling are manifestos for peace"
Jonathan Elbaz 
Pakistan is threatened by deep, systemic challenges, but not only by the ones you see on TV. Major networks repeatedly cover the Taliban and sectarian violence, yet fundamental issues like economic marginalization, the treatment of women, child labor and poor education are swept from the public’s view.
That’s why Salzburg Global Fellow Anwar Akhtar has committed himself to spotlighting Pakistan’s toughest challenges and bolstering organizations working to transform the country. He runs Pakistan Calling, an online project—in partnership with the UK’s Royal Society of Arts (RSA)—that shares films about pressing social issues and facilitates cooperation between people and organizations in Pakistan and the UK.
“A lot of the organizations we profile are often in crisis management,” Akhtar said. “If you’re running a disability charity in Karachi, or you’re running an orphanage or you’re a small cultural organization, you probably haven’t got a communications budget, an outreach budget or an international development officer.”
Pakistan Calling compiles films with a social message. Some films tell the stories of individuals like ambulance drivers (Driving Life) and impoverished street children (I am Agha), while others explore larger ideas of multiculturalism, identity politics and sustainable development. Most films are produced externally by NGOs or university students, and Pakistan Calling gathers their work in one location.
Akhtar said the project aims to engage and empower the huge Pakistani Diaspora in the UK and elsewhere. An estimated 7 million people with Pakistani heritage live outside the country, with 1.2 million in the UK alone. Akhtar hopes that after people watch some of the short films, they’ll be driven to volunteer, advocate on and offline, or donate to the organizations profiled.
“The Diasporas can be a force for conflict resolution,” Akhtar said. “There’s obviously the family and the religious and ancestry links. There’s obviously remittances, and lots of people sending small amount of money to help schools or an orphanage or a clean water project…We’re raising awareness of innovative social projects that people might consider sending money to or supporting.”
Akhtar attended a Salzburg Global session in April entitled “Conflict Transformation Through Culture,” returned for the eighth Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, and returned again for the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. He credits the organization for widening his perspective as a cultural change-maker and for connecting him to key journalists and advocates around the world.
“I’ve now got access to a network of U.S.-based journalists and documentary filmmakers that work around human rights, social development and cultural progress in Asia,” Akhtar said. “As a British-based organization working on a budget of about £40,000, we would not have had the budget to go to Washington and find those people. And yet we found them, on a 90-minute flight from London to Salzburg.”
Akhtar’s background is not in journalism. He grew up in Manchester, England, selling t-shirts and jumpers from his father’s stalls, directing an arts and culture center, and working as a club promoter, before he founded The Samosa website. Consequently, his extended discussions in Salzburg with Media Academy Faculty Susan Moeller and Sanjeev Chatterjee—who have extensive experience utilizing media for social change—were immensely influential on his work.
So far Pakistan Calling has been instrumental in building links between people, communities and institutions. The success of I Am Agha has led some UK organizations to commission more films about the life of street children. The project helped spark an ongoing partnership between film students in Karachi University and London Metropolitan University (which Akhtar considers a “mini Media Academy”). And the Ajoka Theater, an organization first profiled in a Pakistan Calling film, will debut a production at the National Theater in London in April.
“What the films have shown is that there’s absolutely a large element of Pakistani society desperate to improve society and just want to improve their living environment, educate their kids, have a career and a secure society and country,” Akhtar said. “By focusing on that, rather than the Taliban or religious violence, you might actually address the latter issues. The films in Pakistan Calling are all by their nature manifestos for peace.”
The success of the RSA Pakistan Calling project is driven by audience engagement and peer involvement. You can view and share the films via the link: You can read more about Pakistan Calling on the BBC, the New Statesman, the Huffington Post, the World Bank and the Guardian
Salzburg Academy Students Produce Videos on Media and Change
Salzburg Academy Students Produce Videos on Media and Change
Jonathan Elbaz 
During the eighth annual Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, students from around the world collaborated to create two videos that examined "What Media Can Change" and "How Media Can Change." The students, with guidance from Salzburg Academy faculty Sanjeev Chatterjee and Rhys Daunic, framed the issues internationally, by interviewing Academy students and faculty about media practices in their home countries and about media engagement strategies specific to their regions, governments and cultures. Watch the videos below:

Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change 2014

What Media Can Change

Media Academy Program Director publishes new book on Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen
Media Academy Program Director publishes new book on Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen
Tanya Yilmaz 
Paul Mihailidis, the program director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change has published a new book looking at the role of media literacy in participatory civics in digital culture.

Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen: Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture is Mihailidis’ third book which examines the role of media and news literacy – something which is formed upon the work by students at the Salzburg Academy. 

Mihailidis is assistant professor in the
school of communications at Emerson College, Boston M.A. as well as the associate director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson.

The specific challenges which he addresses in this edition is how media literacy can enable core competencies for value-driven, diverse and robust digital media use and whether this could allow a more civic-minded participatory culture.

Mihailidis previously published News Literacy: Global Perspectives for the Newsroom and the Classroom back in 2012 which explores how the rise of digital age has changed the news and the entire media landscape, as well as how we can help empower civic voices through the classroom.

Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen: Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture is available online in hardcopy and paperback from Amazon.
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