The hills were alive, but not with the sound of music. Rather, they were alive with thoughts and discussions (morning, noon, and into the wee hours of the night) about global citizenship and how to globalize San Jose State. What am I talking about?
Well, I was fortunate enough to be selected, along with a dozen other SJSU faculty, staff, and administrators, as a 2012 Salzburg Fellow, and attend the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria this summer (Thank you, Dean Bullock!). For seven days in July we spent many hours (many without internet access, by design) in the castle featured in the Sound of Music film, although Julie Andrews was notably absent, unfortunately.
We attended 2-3 lectures a day on global perceptions of the US, the importance of global citizenship and fostering a global community, the potential for military conflicts over oil in the Pacific, and global sustainability. One of the highlights was an evening presentation/concert dealing with the impact of Louis Armstrong on post-WWII Europe, which featured a speaker delivering a paper with his jazz pianist brother providing brilliant musical interludes. It was the perfect combination of art and research as thought-provoking entertainment. Of course, there was serious business to take care of, as we had a group presentation the final day, and I discovered that even in the beautiful surroundings, my competitiveness could not be restrained. So, my group rocked the schloss (i.e., castle) with our 2030 plan for the US as a “benevolent global player.” In addition, I was the only KIN-related person at the seminar. Since the Olympics were coming up, I had the opportunity to have many late night conversations (Thank you, Stiegl!) about sport, politics, and corporate exploitation.
Now that the semester has started, accompanied by the usual chaos, I’ve taken to reviewing the pages and pages of notes from the lectures every evening, and continuing to think of ways to integrate ideas about global citizenship into my own classes and the KIN department curriculum. I even have a crazy idea of setting up a center related to…well, more on that later. At any rate, the Salzburg Global Seminar was honestly one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had as an academic, and hopefully my lectures and research will be more globally textured because of my attendance.
by Dr. Theodore Butryn