Media Academy » Overview

The Salzburg Academy on Media & 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. 

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

Students produce substantial collaborative projects based on the year's theme.


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 Academy on Media & Global Change
July 15 to August 4, 2018


What Media Can Change

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.
Academy Work Recognized by United Nations Development Program in Europe and Central Asia
Academy Work Recognized by United Nations Development Program in Europe and Central Asia
Tanya Yilmaz 
Students from this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change have had their work recognized by the United Nations Development Program in Europe and Central Asia.

Featured on the Voices from Eurasia blog, University of Maryland student Sandra Nyanchoka and Universidad Iberoamericana student Eduardo Aguilar talked about how their group work aimed to develop media-oriented solutions to development challenges posed by the United Nations Development Program’s Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group (UNDP).

Jennifer Colville, policy advisor to the UNDP set the stage for students to engage with their projects and she was present on Skype when the students pitched their ideas at the end of the three week program.

Alongside 11 other students, Nyanchoka and Aguilar were set the task of looking at how they could prevent corruption within educational systems in Serbia, Armenia, and Moldova using media-orientated solutions. They were then divided into three teams, all looking at a different approach at how to tackle corruption through a campaign, a reporting tool or a game.

For Moldova, the game ‘Bribe?’ was proposed to offer Moldovan citizens a better understanding of the motivations behind corrupt teachers, students, and parents. In their blog post, Nyanchoka and Aguilar outlined two questions which guided their research of corruption: (1) what led to this and why is it so common? (2) Who are the stakeholders?

The game is currently being further developed and designed by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College – led by faculty member Eric Gordon.

The Academy work emerged in the form of Media Action Plans (MAPs) which explored where civic activism can help bring forth the marginalized and oppressed voices around the world. These MAPs looked at development challenges of youth unemployment, sustainability, climate change, human rights, and corruption – all producing a media platform to aid them within their presentation.
All project presentations can be found on the SAC 08 session page:
71 Civic Voices Aim to Change the World with Media-Orientated Solutions
71 Civic Voices Aim to Change the World with Media-Orientated Solutions
Tanya Yilmaz 
The largest ever cohort of seventy-one students of twenty-three nationalities from sixteen colleges*, joined together for three weeks in order better their understanding of the role of media as an agent for change in the digital age– particularly in the context of their role as citizens of local and global communities.

Over the course of the three-week program at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, international students from five continents listened to lectures, took part in workshops, and worked in groups to develop media-oriented solutions to the challenges posed by the
United Nations Development Program’s Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group (UNDP).

As a new addition to the annual program, the UNDP staged real world challenges that they are currently working on in the developing world in regional country offices and called on students to examine and make proposals on how media can be used to address challenges around youth unemployment, sustainability, climate change, human rights, and corruption.

The Salzburg Academy began in 2007 as a partnership between Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda at the University of Maryland, and now in its eighth year, the Academy has attracted partner universities from across the world that are home to reputable journalism and communications schools. At this year’s Academy, resident faculty members welcomed new staff from first time colleges including University of Rhode Island, George Washington University, USA, Jadavpur University, India, Jordan Media Institute, Jordan, American University of Sharjah, UAE and Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China.

Entitled “Civic Voices - Justice, Rights and Social Change”, this year’s students worked in small groups to develop emerging challenges to civic rights and justice and sought to discover how digital media can help support social progress in a more globally connected world. This work emerged in the form of Media Action Plans (MAPs) which explored where civic activism can help bring forth the marginalized and oppressed voices around the world.

Students outlined the Media Action Plans (MAPs) for their chosen country where they framed the issue at hand, offered solutions and implementation ideas and produced a visualization to highlight their findings. With a focus on new media, the groups narrowed their focus to revolve their ideas around the use of interactive games and apps. To facilitate such proceedings, the Academy welcomed back Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College.

Jennifer Colville, policy advisor to the UNDP Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group set the stage for students to engage with their projects by initiating a full-day program in the first week of the Academy giving an overview of the development landscape as well as the challenges to be researched. The 2014 Academy students also took part in the UN’s “MY World” survey, providing the UN insight into what the students consider to be the most important global issues for them.
They then pitched their final 14 ideas to Colville who joined the Academy over Skype on August 7.  

She praised the students for their attention to funding implications – particularly in mobilizing resources to perpetuate the development of their app ideas.

She said: “They are very inspiring and encouraging, so congratulations to all of you. I know the country offices are very excited about looking at what some of these opportunities might be for their country offices.”

All project presentations – including Media Action Plans, Prezi presentations as well as group videos can be found here.

In previous years students have contributed towards many research projects, including UNPLUGGED, which analyzed the technological habits of university students around world and “A Tethered World” which looked at mobile phone use in daily civic life, as well as additional projects focused on exploring global media coverage of the Beijing and London Olympics.

The program was led by faculty from partner universities, including resident faculty members and award-winning documentary makers Sanjeev Chatterjee and Rhys Daunic. Together with six competitively selected students, Chatterjee and Daunic led a multimedia production team who produced two video which focus on what media can change, and the other looks at how the media can change.

The multimedia team videos

What Media Can Change How Media Can Change A number of guest speakers also joined faculty members to deliver lectures to students including Anwar Akhtar, Director of the Samosa – a culture and politics site focused on Britain and South Asia, developed to support welfare, human rights, education, and citizenship groups in Pakistan. Dean of Media School at Bournemouth University, UK and returning Faculty member, Stephen Jukes also delivered a lecture on ‘Journalism Norms in a Digital Culture’. The Academy also welcomed back guest speaker Justeen Hyde, director of research and evaluation at the Institute for Community Health in Massachusetts and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. In her talk with students, she offered a workshop in conducting participatory research with communities. This tied in well with a video presentation via Skype by co-founders of Everyday Africa, Austin Merrill and Peter DiCampo who talked about their photography project which uses images captured on smart phones to refute stereotypes of Africa and re-direct focus toward a more accurate understanding of normal life on the continent.

The annual Bailey Morris-Eck lecture was made by visiting scholar, Najib Sharifi, who discussed how his interdisciplinary career has given him a sound knowledge of media reporting – particularly conflict-sensitive journalism. Changing from Within In addition to improving their knowledge of development challenges, many of the students felt that the Academy inspired them to make some sort of change – particularly within themselves.

For some it was on a personal development level, such as Aupula Ghosh, a Masters student at Jadavpur University, India, majoring in film studies.

“After these 3 weeks we will not just go ahead and change our country or change the world but this Academy is really creating a certain mindset in us. I can now try to find my own creative, innovative ways in my own locality, my own community and this Academy is providing me with that mindset.”

University of Maryland government and politics student, Matthew Bringuier also believes that the Academy has offered him an experience that has opened his eyes to the depth of diversity within cultures – particularly the different types of Arabic.

“It has been very eye-opening and you just have to keep an open-mind. It has been so great being able to talk to people in an open forum and to study with the professors from all of the universities from different countries. It has been a monumental experience,” Matt explains.

Fernando Garcia Alvarez, a communications student at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico, will take back what he learnt and apply it to how he views the world.

He said: “It [the Academy] has changed me because when you look at the world you think about it at from other regions – you think about it in a cold, external and ‘other’ way, but here I felt that I got more sensibility about trying to understand deeply about culture, people, religion - everything - in other regions of the world.” Unexpected Outcomes Other students now feel inspired in their career prospects to try and make change, like a student from Bournemouth University, UK.

“One of my aspirations is to work for the UN….the networks created here have made clear [that] you never know, the people you meet in our age range, could in the future, be a colleague or they might be the ones giving you a job at the end of the day,” explained third year politics and media student, Douglas Tham.

Other students left with a similar global outlook – something they did not expect to have when they arrived such as Balquees Basalom, an American University of Sharjah, UAE, majoring in mass communication with concentration on journalism and a minor in Arabic literature.   

She said: “I think it made us all feel like global citizens for example the projects we are working on. We are putting so much effort into something we won’t see the benefit of directly but know we are working towards a better world in general. It’s making, enhancing and enforcing the concept of a global citizen rather than just having routes for one country or one culture.”

Antony Ojwang, communications student at Daystar University, Kenya also looked back on an unexpected outcome from his experience at the Academy – teaching him to talk less, and listen more.

“For me the Academy is like dropping me in to a sea. In the sea you have of all types of creatures. In the Academy you have all types of people. Before I used to talk a lot but I have realized that there are people who think better than me and for me that’s a plus because whenever I find somebody who does better than me, I listen to them and pick out something from the experience. Being here has taught me to listen rather than talk,” Antony explains.

Moving Forward Selma Zaki, one of the 23 American University of Beirut students at this year's Academy advocated the importance of the work at this year’s Academy – particularly as a major of psychology.

“My experience has been very fruitful and I’ve learned a lot of skills and techniques. I learned not to generalize from a nationality and not only a nationality, but even in Lebanon, you have different sects and different types of people and we get so used to stereotyping everybody – that’s what I’ve learned from interacting with others.”

Selma also reflected on how previous Fellow’s recommended the program to her.

“The people who came before me kept on telling me ‘it’s the best time of your life, you’re going to have so much fun’, so I focused so much on the positive that I didn’t realize that even the difficulty of adapting is a beautiful experience. We are getting out of our comfort zone which in the moment is a negative feeling but then it turns into a positive one,” she explains.

The Salzburg Academy has become a lot more than a program just dedicated to “Media and Global Change” – it has allowed students to transcend geographical, technological, social and cultural boundaries. This year, the theme was “Civic Voices” and from the work and responses by both faculty and students – many are leaving with a global voice.
A selection of photographs from the 2014 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change are available on Flickr Winning entries from the 2014 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change photography contest are available on Facebook A selection of student-made videos from the 2014 Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change are available on Facebook *Participating universities this year were: American University of Beirut, Lebanon; American University of Sharjah,UAE;  Bournemouth University, UK; Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China SAR; Daystar University, Kenya; Emerson College, USA; George Washington University, USA; Jadavpur University, India; Jordan Media Institute, Jordan; Pontifica Universidad Catolica, Argentina; University of Rhode Island, USA; Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; University of Maryland, College Park, USA; University of Miami, USA; University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Slovakia; University of Texas at Austin, USA and Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
Najib Sharifi: “Once you’re a journalist, you’re always a journalist”
Najib Sharifi: “Once you’re a journalist, you’re always a journalist”
Tanya Yilmaz 
In the annual Bailey Morris-Eck lecture at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, guest lecturer, Najib Sharifi delivered an insightful talk on conflict-sensitive journalism.

As a frequent commentator on Afghanistan issues on both Afghan and international media, Sharifi’s career has transcended academe and journalism, politics and medicine. He is president of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee and Afghan Voices and has worked for leading news organizations, including The New York Times, BBC, CNN, and National Public Radio. Najib has also served as senior political officer for the Office of the Special Representative of the European Union for Afghanistan as well as an active medical practitioner.

With this sound knowledge of media reporting in conflicts, Najib addressed the students that conflict-sensitive journalism can vary greatly from traditional reporting in that, as journalists, we have a duty to resolve conflicts and prevent further escalation of wars caused by inaccuracies in reports. He proposed that when reporting on a conflict of two sides, report the view of the third party - that of the ordinary people effected by the conflict.

Sharifi was recently awarded the title of Peace Hero by the Peace Museum in Vienna, Austria which is part of the Windows for Peace project that will aim to educate the public through interactive window displays across the city. Featuring influential figures such as Vienna’s own Bertha von Suttner, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi, the project will run from June 2014 through June 2016.

Listen below to hear highlights from Najib’s Bailey Morris-Eck lecture.

Najib's Lecture Slides

Najib Sharifi attended Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change: Civic Voices - Justice, Rights and Social Change which runs July 20 to August 9. For more information and updates from the session, please see the program page: and on Twitter with the hashtag #SAC2014
Media and Change: Empowerment and Civic Voice
Media and Change: Empowerment and Civic Voice
Tanya Yilmaz 
“An open mind is all you need to achieve change.” This was the message proposed to Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change students, during the session on “Media & Change: Empowerment and Civic Voice”. Led by faculty members Roman Gerodimos and Jessica Roberts, the interactive and collaborative discussion aimed to evoke responses from students about the idea of change and being empowered to make change happen.  Gerodimos, Principal Academic in Global Current Affairs at Bournemouth University, UK started proceedings by asking students to consider why and how they would affect change within their own lives and to think about the main determinants of this process. One student from the UK said, “I want to change the world because I think there are lots of amazing and beautiful things in it but sometimes you feel that the whole thing has to turn upside down to make these beautiful things flourish.” Another student from Kenya said, “We don’t even know ourselves so by the mere fact that we are ready to change something means that we’ll discover something about ourselves that we are yet to know.” He paired his conversation with three short videos (available below).  Jessica Roberts, lecturer in communications at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China, added to the discussion by contextualizing such ideas in the work the students will be completing during the three-week Academy.  The 2014 Academy students will focus on two major programs and activities including work for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s Knowledge, Innovation and Capacity Group, where they will work on real world challenges UNDP are working on around the world. The three main areas of focus are: poverty reduction, human rights, and the environment. Students will work in teams to develop media-oriented solutions to the challenges posed. Students will also engage in a weekly photo contest.  Roberts paid particular attention to how students can make their case studies more innovative by considering platform choice, target audience and location to maximize impact on media dialogue and global change. This was sustained through the proposal of a framework which would allow students to target a problem within the three main areas of focus, suggest points of action which people can take in terms of counteracting the problem, and to then clarify what the end goal is. The session provoked not only civic voices in terms of media and change – but also global ones. 

Video 1 - Invisible Parents

Video 2 - Thai Commerical

Video 3 - This is Water

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