By: Carly McAskill

“GUSEGG is [one of the] very rare of opportunities to create a critical space
of thought, learning and conversation amongst people from around the
world, brought together through intense intellectual intimacy to
break boundaries, form new bonds, and challenge mainstream systems of
higher education.

It is also a model of ingenious organizing, the
best kind in fact, whereby the tireless efforts of the GUSEGG team
seem to melt into the seamless running of the two-week program.”

–Dr. Stephen Katz


Seminar 06: Aging, Communication, and Technology creative group photo

The Graz International Summer School Seggau (GUSEGG) 2016 (“Transformation, Transgressions, and Trust in Europe and the Americas”) was an extraordinary experience that deepened my understanding of current European and international affairs within the context of transformation, transgression and trust. It was an unforgettable experience that truly impacted who I am as a researcher and has made me very interested in how we can create and facilitate interdisciplinary platforms where complex issues can be discussed in inclusive and cooperative environments. Through the keynote lectures, seminar modules, networking opportunities, presentations, field trips, panel and small group discussions, I had the pleasure of reflecting on aspects of individual, social, political, religious, cultural, literary, regional, economic, cohort and national identities. Overall, GUSEGG helped me to connect with academic fields in order to transcend boundaries and empowered me to deepen how I address the challenges in my life as a woman, researcher, artist and teacher.

“We live in times of immense challenges. How do you face challenges on political, structural, economic, cultural, individual, and community levels?

You gather about a hundred people from different personal and academic backgrounds in a castle on a hill in a wine-growing border region, and create an interdisciplinary platform to discuss controversial issues in close proximity and within a packed schedule. The Graz International Summer School Seggau thus creates a unique atmosphere, where students and professors alike have to step out of their comfort zones and engage in challenging discussions. No one can remain a spectator; no one can lean back and say, “Okay, bring it on.”

Within these two weeks, personal and professional commitments outside of the summer school cease to exist. Everyone is very much in the moment and needs to concentrate on the here and now, the discussions at hand that no longer are abstract, but have meaning, urgency, and relevance beyond the brief two weeks and the castle on the hill.”

–Dr. Roberta Maierhofer

In the Aging, Communication and Technology seminar (Ageing with Technology: “Digitally Ageing/Digital Ageism”) professors Dr. Kim Sawchuk, Dr. Line Grenier and Dr. Stephen Katz led my classmates and I through an interdisciplinary approach which considers the “art of ageing” in connection to computer-mediated communications and networked societies. Using insights of critical ageing studies scholars in Europe and the Americas, we learned about the predominance of “decline narratives” associated with ageing and ethnographies with older adults. This experience inspired me to contemplate and develop my responses through interdisciplinary analyses. Additionally, the seminar contributed to my knowledge on theories of media, mediation and mediatization.


  Top row: Dr. Stephen Katz, Sigal Pearl Naim, Maria del Gonzalez, Carly McAskill and Dr. Line Grenier. Bottom row: Etnike Dibrani, Nuria Mina-Riera, Marie-Eve Vautrin-Nadeau, Ieva Stoncikaite and Erin Yunes.


New Communication Studies PhD students with their supervisors (from left to right): Dr. Line Grenier, Dr. Kim Sawchuk, Carly McAskill and Marie-Eve Vautrin-Nadeau hanging outside of the seminar room at Seggau Castle.


Seminar 06: Aging, Communication, and Technology group selfie with Dr. Kim Sawchuk and Dr. Line Grenier.

As a new PhD student in Communication Studies at Concordia University working under the supervision of Dr. Sawchuk (director of the ACT Project at Concordia University), the privilege of attending GUSEGG provided me with a very unique opportunity to bond with my supervisor as well as make strong connections and friendships with other researchers in the aging, communication and technology fields. Some of my favourite memories include: being able to use my bold personality and sense of fun to be the master of ceremonies for the International Presentations and co-hosting karaoke with Dr. Peter Goggin.


Marie-Eve Vautrin-Nadeau and Carly McAskill having a great time cheering for Canada, the ACT Project and Dr. Kim Sawchuk on day one, during the opening ceremony.

A few very special moments of the summer school experience have remained with me. While sitting on the terrasse at Seggau Castle with Dr. Sawchuk, she said to me, “Carly, I am happy you are here.” At the time, we were admiring the beautiful view with some delicious wine in hand. Similarly, it puts a smile on my face to think back to busting a dance move with Dr. Grenier on the dance floor during our final night at GUSEGG. As well, to remember Dr. Katz’s caring gesture as he gave me two pieces of paper full of the resources he had hand written with, what he called, “my dementia starter kit.”

Currently, the strong connections I made with fellow researchers continue to develop with the conversations we are having about our applications for the European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS) Conference in April 2017. Ultimately, GUSEGG was an invaluable experience that has impacted who I am as a woman and deepened my commitment to interdisciplinary research. Thank you to the ACT Project, Dr. Sawchuk, Dr. Grenier, Dr. Katz; the Seminar 06: Aging, Communication and Technology members; the GUSEGG team; the Seggau staff; and fellow summer school attendees for making my experience so incredible. I hope to see you all soon and wish you all peace in your life, love in your heart and success in your goals. 

Seminar 06: Aging, Communication, and Technology final group photo with our certificates with Dr. Roberta Maierhofer (the academic director of the GUSEGG and member of the steering committee) on the far left and Dr. Michael Kuhn (the representative for the COMECE at GUSEGG and a steering committee member) on the far right

Seminar 06: Aging, Communication, and Technology final group photo with our certificates with Dr. Roberta Maierhofer (the academic director of the GUSEGG and member of the steering committee) on the far left and Dr. Michael Kuhn (the representative for the COMECE at GUSEGG and a steering committee member) on the far right.