New summer study abroad offered in Austria

by Rebecca Fiore / Beacon Staff • February 27, 2014

Paul Mihailidis is the director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.
Paul Mihailidis is the director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

This summer, Emerson students will have the opportunity to to live in another castle. For the first time, the school will participate in a three-week study abroad program in Salzburg, Austria, at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. 

The program, which is focused on international and media change, started in 2006, and this year, Emerson is joining 15 other universities from around the world. It is scheduled from July 20 to August 9. 

Paul Mihailidis, an associate professor at Emerson and director of the Salzburg Academy, sent out an email Feb. 13 encouraging students to apply. He said that five or more undergraduate or graduate students from any major will be selected through an application process to join him.

“I think a program like this cuts really across the core of what Emerson does,” he said. “It looks across media culture and global culture. I would say ... that we really engage across disciplines, but the core is media change.” 

Mihailidis said students at the Academy will work on real-world media literacy projects and design action plans for public need. 

“We’ve taught media literacy to rural communities in Mexico, and we’ve had our case studies published in UNESCO curriculum guides in Africa,” he said. 

Emerson will offer and require one four-credit class this summer at the Academy called Global Media Literacy, which is a 400-level elective taught by Mihailidis, according to Emerson’s website. 

The three-hour class, held daily Monday through Friday, will focus on media’s role in politics, culture, and society internationally, according to the syllabus. 

Louis Contino, a junior marketing communication major who attended Kasteel Well last semester, said that this program could be another great experience for him.

“I have one more year of school left and I want to do one more study abroad program,” Contino said. “The castle in the Netherlands was such an amazing experience that it made me think on a more global scale. A program that specifically focuses on globalization is something that I would be really interested in.” 

Students will be housed in an 18th century castle, which was used in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, according to Mihailidis. The total estimated cost for the program, including tuition and boarding, is $6,490 plus additional costs for weekend traveling, approximated at $2,735, according to the college. 

An average day at the program, according to Mihailidis, consists of three meal times, a daylong panel, and group discussion — called a plenary — with all Academy participants. Students have nights and weekends off, similar to the Kasteel Well Program.

“It’s not a traditional classroom setting. There are plenaries where we all get together and after that they are broken into groups,” Mihailidis said. 

Ashley Goverman, a sophomore performing arts major, said she thinks a focused study abroad program would be beneficial for some students. 

“I’m all about study abroad programs,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people, especially for people who want to take a summer class.”

There are a few excursions planned as well, including a trip to the Alps and to Munich’s Dachau concentration camp. 

“It’s a lot of hard work and hard play,” said Mihailidis.

Although Emerson was not officially a part of the program last summer, Mihailidis brought along three students to test it out. 

The program has had an array of guest speakers, like Anthony Kennedy, a US Supreme Court Justice; Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist; playwright Tom Stoppard; and Richard Goldstone, who helped with ending the Apartheid in Africa.

Mihailidis said that these speakers were able to come to the Academy because the program takes place at the same time as the Salzburg Music Festival, the largest classical music festival in the world. 

While he said he isn’t sure who the speakers for this summer will be, he said he is positive they will continue to choose successful, influential people. 

When students return to Emerson, Mihailidis said he is planning a class to continue their studies that would focus on projects including aspects of activism, research, and working across borders.  

“We think of the summer course as an incubator, so to encourage students to continue on with this after, a lab course [will be instituted],” he said. 

This course will be affiliated with the Emerson’s Engagement Labs, which focus on combining media and civic engagement. The idea is to apply the solutions to the problems they were working on at the Academy, he said.  

The application for the summer program found on the Emerson website, is due on March 15, and requires a 500-word written statement and faculty recommendation.

“We are looking for ambitious, energetic, expressive, tolerant, and dynamic people,” Mihailidis said.