Since 2007, a global cohort of faculty have been gathering in Salzburg, Austria each summer to experiment with transformative media pedagogies. The Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, was founded in 2007 as an experiment in global media pedagogies. That year 47 students and 11 faculty from around the world gathered at the renowned Schloss Leopoldskron, to explore the impact of media systems and structures on civic cultures around the world, and to practice critical inquiry and creative production. The early years of the program were driven by an energy to understand how emerging digital cultures where changing media environment, journalism practices, and information infrastructures.
Over the past 13 years, more than 1,000 students and 150 faculty and guest scholars have participated in the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change. Both students and educators each summer engage in an immersive experience that asks students to consider bold ideas for practice, process, and civic action across media industries. Each summer’s cohort collaboratively work in residence with faculty and visiting media and civic practitioners to explore an intractable problem, using a thematic foundation to navigate an immersive and transformative media experience.
This project combines foundations in media and news literacy alongside practices of transmedia storytelling to offer an immersive pedagogical experience that builds from radical scholars like bell hooks, Paulo Freire and W.E.B. Dubois, who understood the pursuit of radical pedagogy as “the development of power, the training of a self whose balanced assertion will mean as much as possible for the great ends of civilization.”
In 2017 the faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change gathered over a series of seminars to articulate what this experiment means to us as teachers, scholars, and activists. We decided to initiate these discussions in the wake of a global crisis of trust and credibility in media systems and structures. This crisis of legitimacy knows no borders. In cities, urban coastal elites struggle to understand how and why the fabric of civil society is fraying. In rural parts of the world, increasing global inequality and the disruption of working class living wages has eroded core mechanisms for well being and livelihood.
Those who teach about and with media find themselves under increasing pressure to respond to the current wave of disruption in the industry, maintaining criticality and relevance while trying to understand the short and long term implications of the plight of media organizations in a time of intense partisanship and a return to civic tribalism of sorts. The struggle for teachers to find avenues for engagement with and response to the current state of media calls for more innovative approaches to pedagogy, and a need to understand scholarship as practice- and intervention-oriented.
It is within this context that the faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change launched SMS: the Salzburg Media School. SMS is an articulation of transformative media pedagogies. Together, over a series of meetings, the faculty of the media academy developed a mission for the work that we do across 20 countries in the world to build media literacies for inclusion, justice, and emancipation. The SMS mission is to:
- Build capacity for media pedagogies that embrace transgression, soulful engagement and collective transformation.
- To approach research not through the production of knowledge cut off from the world, but applied and situated in and with the communities it studies.
- To think of media practice as intervention into traditional models of storytelling that desperately need to be re-imFagined for the present day.
- To re-imagine narratives that push back against harmful extremist rhetoric and post fact cultures.
How does SMS work? Through our collective scholarly, activist and pedagogical roots we articulate this shared vision in our home institutions and in solidarity with each other. To activate our missions, SMS advance transformative pedagogies, intervention-based practice, and applied research to build the civic capacity of communities.
See our Manifesto and list of collaborators at: Salzburg Media School.
Reach out if you’re interested in signing on to our project!