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The Salzburg Seminar in American Studies - Celebrating 50 Years in 1997 American Studies Today On-line
marty gecek Marty Gecek, Associate Director of the American Studies Center of the Salzburg Seminar, writes about fifty years of American Studies programs in the heart of Europe. How It All Began - Salzburg, Austria, 1947

1946, the year that Churchill announced that an iron curtain had descended across Europe, three Harvard students had a plan to bring together students from war-torn Europe with their American contemporaries, to introduce American civilisation to the young generation of post-war Europe. Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo palace built in 1744 by the Archbishop of Salzburg, was the site of the first Salzburg Seminar in 1947, which brought together 90 students from 18 European countries to discuss American literature, politics and economics. The unqualified success of that first seminar, led by such distinguished Americans as Margaret Mead and literary historian F.O. Matthiessen, set the stage for more than 300 seminars held over the years. The Salzburg Seminar in American Studies is celebrating in 1997 a half century of educational programs that have provided a forum for future leaders from around the world to engage in intellectual dialogue on a variety of global themes. In the early years, eminent American studies scholars such as Daniel Bell, Saul Bellow, Henry Steele Commager, and Talcott Parsons shared their wisdom on a variety of American Studies themes with mid-career professionals from Western and Eastern Europe. Today, a typical Salzburg Seminar core session is attended by 50-60 "Fellows" from 35 countries around the globe, who spend a week in intensive high-level discussion of the session theme.



Creation of the American Studies Center (ASC) of the Salzburg Seminar

salzburg seminar
Although the official name of the institution is still the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, during the 1970s and 1980s the session themes became more global in scope, encompassing such areas as international economics, urban planning, trade development, business and technology, rather than predominantly American studies themes. In 1994, with the help of a grant from the United States Information Agency, the Salzburg Seminar created the American Studies Center (ASC), thus underscoring its continuing commitment to the American Studies component of its program. The ASC offers workshops and conferences designed for university professors, administrators, and teacher trainers, on a variety of American Studies and English language themes. A typical workshop is attended by 20-25 participants from as many countries, including the Central Asian Republics, the Middle East and North Africa, Russia and the Newly Independent States, and Asia, as well as Western and Eastern Europe. Led by American Studies and English language professionals, the workshops demonstrate to participants the use of American Studies content and materials in the English language classroom. An extensive electronic element is an integral component of every ASC workshop, during which participants search the Internet for documents and resources, send and receive e-mail messages, and explore compact disc multimedia data and the World Wide Web. Most participants create projects on some theme of the workshop, which are then placed on the Seminar's homepage on the World Wide Web. The exposure participants receive to the vast resources available to American Studies and English language scholars enhances their ability to use technological resources in the classroom and fosters their professional development. A participant from Tajikistan, who arrived in Salzburg with no computer skills, proudly e-mailed ASC staff a few months after her workshop that she had obtained an Internet connection in her university department and was even teaching a course on the use of the Internet in the classroom.

Institutional linkages in American Studies have long been a tradition at the Salzburg Seminar. Not many realise that the European Association for American Studies was founded by former Seminar scholars at Schloss Leopoldskron. More recently, the ASC has become a member of the American Studies Network, a group of 15 European centres which take an interdisciplinary approach to American Studies and work together to encourage the development of the study of the US


Universities Project

Since its beginning in 1947, the Salzburg Seminar has believed that education is the key to promoting understanding and tolerance in a widely diversified world. The Universities Project is the latest in a series of educational programs which will provide a forum for the exchange of information about reform efforts in higher education. Under a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, the ASC begins in 1997 a multi-year project to hold symposia bringing together university presidents, rectors, and ministers of education from Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States with their counterparts from the U.S., Canada and Western Europe, to discuss issues of governance, finance, structure and curriculum reform at institutes of higher education.

The President of the Salzburg Seminar, Dr. Olin Robison, described the creation of the American Studies Center of the Salzburg Seminar as "a return to the past to rekindle the spirit and commitment of the founding fathers of the Salzburg Seminar." As the Salzburg celebrates its fiftieth year of operation, it is proud to continue to play a role in the further development of American Studies in Europe.

For further information about applying to a core session, please contact the Salzburg Seminar Admissions Office

Contact Information:


American Studies Center: Dr. James Ward, Director; Martha Gecek, Associate Director. Salzburg Seminar, Schloss Leopoldskron, Box 129 A-5010 Salzburg, Austria

Tel: 43/662 82983-158 or 43/662 8398344
Fax: 43/662 825269

Salzburg Seminar Core Programs Salzburg Seminar Admissions Office Box 129 A-5010 Salzburg, Austria


Tel: 43/662 839830
Fax: 43/662 839837
Website: www.salsem.ac.at


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The views expressed are those of the contributors, and not necessarily those of the Centre or the College.

© 1997, City of Liverpool College and the Contributors.

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