As part of a series launched in 2001, Milton Wolf Seminars are organized yearly at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna to encourage dialogue on issues of diplomacy and journalism. The seminars are jointly sponsored by the Diplomatic Academy, the Austrian American Foundation, and University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. Attendees are drawn from a wide variety of sectors and organizations, and around 10 graduate students are selected from a pool of applicants annually to present their research as Emerging Scholars. My application was one selected for the Emerging Scholars program, which provided me with the opportunity this April to travel to Vienna and participate in this forum with other experts and inquisitive scholars.
The theme of the Milton Wolf Seminar varies every year, and the 2018 theme was “Public Diplomacy in Moments of Geopolitical Transformation.” In contrast to traditional diplomacy’s state-to-state exchanges, public diplomacy focuses its strategies on the public opinions of foreign audiences. This was a particularly engaging theme for a Russian Studies student, as many of the panels and discussions centered on Russia’s information operations and use of propaganda in the near and far abroad. Two contributors to this discussion included Igor Roskladaj, a lawyer at Kiev’s Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law who spoke on Ukraine’s efforts to combat recent Russian propaganda, and Konstantin von Eggert, a journalist at TV Dozhd who spoke on Russian media practices. As part of the requirements of being selected an Emerging Scholar, I also contributed to this theme with a presentation on Russian information operations in Estonia and Latvia.
The atmosphere of the Milton Wolf Seminar was warm and engaging, providing a wonderful opportunity to network with and learn from a variety of experts and emerging academics on media and diplomacy. The productive discussions of the Seminar continued beyond the panels and into tea breaks and evening activities held at the residence of the Deputy US Chief of Mission and a local Viennese heurigen. Emerging Scholars receive complimentary airfare and accomodations in exchange for contributing to the Seminar through short presentations and blog posts. Applications for the 2019 Seminar will open in January.
Megan Burnham is a first year M.A. student and RSW Fellow. For more information, please visit the Milton Wolf website: https://miltonwolfseminar.wordpress.com/emerging-scholars-program/