Fulbright Senior Award, 2015-2016
The Fulbright Scholar Award gave me the unique opportunity to conduct research at the reputed Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, and meet top scholars in communication and public diplomacy. I chose the University of Southern California for its leadership in my field (just ranked number 1 in the world’s top universities for communication & media studies in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016) and for its Center on Public Diplomacy, a leader in the public diplomacy research and scholarship community.
That is why I believe the Fulbright Scholar Award is the Oscar of academia: (1) it gives you direct access to top schools, top scholars, state of the art knowledge and latest advancements in your field; (2) it offers the framework to develop your own work collaborating closely with these top scholars, while allowing freedom and space for independent thinking; (3) it is a direct experience of a foreign culture that helps you gain valuable insights into the American way of life. For a researcher this blend is truly one of a kind.
In my research, I am investigating perspectives of various state and non-state actors engaged in public diplomacy in countries with different political systems, level of development and democratic histories. During my stay at USC Annenberg, I analyzed current practices and discourses in U.S. public diplomacy of various actors (e.g. the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, the Center on Public Diplomacy, the Brand USA) and interviewed reputed scholars on the current trends and challenges in public diplomacy, in general. Thus, I had the unique opportunity to meet and discuss on these topics with prof. Geoffrey Cowan who served as the 22nd director of the Voice of America and who launched the USC Center on Public Diplomacy (CPD), as well as with the current director of CPD, prof. Jay Wang, and the former directors, prof. Philip Seib and prof. Geoffrey Wiseman, to mention just a few.
Above all, I benefited a lot from the constant conversations and the excellent collaboration with prof. Nicholas Cull, founding director of the Master of Public Diplomacy Program at Annenberg and who was my institutional collaborator. He also invited me to give a talk to the master students on the case study of Branding Romania and also to get involved in the classes that he teaches, by offering feedback and comments to students’ presentations and activities. I am very grateful to him for this and for his thoughts and inputs that allow me to advance in my research.
Besides conducting research and sitting in various classes on my topics of interest, I also attended and engaged in discussions and debates during the various events organized by CPD with U.S. and international scholars and practitioners, including representatives of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Thus, I developed a close collaboration with the Center and with its director, prof. Jay Wang: together with the colleagues in the newly established Public Diplomacy Interest Group within the International Communication Association (ICA) we are planning a post-conference on Public Diplomacy for May 2017 at the Annual ICA conference in San Diego.
As a general advise for any Fulbright Scholar: do apply for a Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund! I was also invited by my colleague in the ICA Public Relations Division, prof. Katerina Tsetsura, to visit the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Oklahoma and was granted an award through the Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund. I thus gave a public talk at Norman Public Library and a lecture for MA and Doctoral Students at Gaylord College, University of Oklahoma. I thus got the chance to visit another campus and to engage in conversations with faculty and students. It was a totally different kind of town and university as compared to Los Angeles and the University of Southern California and I really enjoyed the lectures there and the informal discussions with both faculty and students.
Last but not least, I also attended a Fulbright Enrichment Seminar in Austin, Texas and for me it was truly unique experience: (1) I had a lovely tasty dinner and a great conversation with a former mayor of an U.S. city in his own home; (2) I could listen to original recordings of conversations between Martin Luther King and President Lyndon Johnson, see posters, ads and pins with both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used in the 1960’s election campaign. It was really fascinating! (you can read here the entire story)
My overall take from the Fulbright research experience is a more profound and nuanced understanding of current challenges for public diplomacy as field and practice in general and for U.S. in particular. This informs both my interdisciplinary and comparative research, as well as my teaching.
At personal level, I had my family with me and we have seen wonderful places and met incredible people committed to volunteer and make a difference in their communities, such as the Park family who hosted us, supported us and became our friends. We were fortunate to live in a true American house near the Science Center and the Endeavour spaceship. And we were enchanted by the visits to Disneyland, Legoland and the beautiful beaches of Southern California.
It was an awesome experience that I wholeheartedly recommend to any scholar who wants to develop his/ her work among the best in his/her field.
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center
- Anna's Odyssey - by Anna Claspy
- RomericanJourney - by Damaris Lois Bangean
- A Most Unexpected Year - by Melanie Shoffner
- Eric Fretz
- Polar Bear in the Balkans - by David Jimenez
- Romaniadventure - by Anna Sherod
- Romania plus Hannah equals a blog - by Hannah Wolf
- A Palette for Thought - by Elijah Ferbrache
- A Year in Romania - by Anne Murray
- Lauren Hermele
- Katelyn Arlene Browher