My scholarship strategy

My key word for research is useful. Rather than measure your scholarship by counting published articles and conference presentations, I look at the usefulness of your work. How many people can apply your research? How did your research affect those people?

The easiest way to measure usefulness is to look at the number of times a particular article or conference presentation is cited positively. I do not care if the research is published in an on-line journal or a printed journal. I don’t care if a prestigious journal or a not-very-selective journal published the research. With today’s powerful search engines, people find your research. If it is useful, they cite it.

Another way I know scholarship is useful is if an organization paid for the results. When you win a competitive grant and receive a large sum of money in exchange for completing certain work, you should be proud of your work.

In the Mass Media Ph.D. program at Michigan State University, I focused on learning to conduct quantitative research studies. Then I applied my education, had research published in refereed journals, and was awarded tenure at the University of South Carolina.

That was then. I no longer value the hypothetico-deductive model of scientific method. Instead, I prefer the inductive model commonly found in qualitative research. I simply like working on theory more than conducting research studies.

For the next several years, I am working on the philosophical underpinnings of communication theory. When philosophical assumptions change — such as the shift from modernism to postmodernism — everything else changes, including theories, methods, findings, and conclusions. If I can integrate philosophers’ ideas and apply them to communication, then more people can potentially use my work.

I also write grants. While working for USC, I’ve garnered $1.4 million in grants, including my current grant from the U.S. State Department to improve and ensure sustainability of a journalism school in Tbilisi, Georgia. During a 3-year period, I’ll spend a year working at the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management (CSJMM), while three CSJMM faculty members work on Ph.D.s at USC. In addition, two other CSJMM faculty members will spend 9 months at USC while six other USC faculty members teach in Tbilisi. CSJMM is the only school in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan offering graduate degrees based on the West’s social responsibility model in journalism and media management. The work we do could be life changing for many people.

My current projects

EU-US Atlantis Program Policy-Oriented Measure

The University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications is working with the University of IowaTeesside University (in England) and Gvale University (in Sweden) to improve education and training in the digital creative industries

Funded by a €140,000 ($186,000) grant—half from the European Union and half from the U.S. Department of Education’s FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) program—the four schools are participating in a two-year program to ensure that students have the skills and attributes needed for jobs in the creative industries. The Europe-US team will also establish long-term networks between education and industry. It will present its findings to the U.S. Senate and the European Commission’s Culture and Education Directorate General. The goal is to help develop policies that improve partnerships between higher education and the creative industries.

Journalism School Partnership Program

The University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications in Columbia, South Carolina, is now partners with the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management at the Zurab Zhvania Georgian Institute of Public Affairs in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Funded by a $742,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State, the two schools are participating in a three-year partnership program to improve the standard of journalism instruction and to assist in the institutional development of CSJMM. The partnership is designed to assist CSJMM to increase its capacity to deliver programs of the highest international quality for instruction and research in journalism. By training future journalists and media practitioners, CSJMM will play a critical role in setting the standards and providing the necessary skills to develop and maintain independent media in the Caucasus region. Such independent media should then play a critical role in ensuring the free flow of information necessary to maintain democratic systems of government.

Film proposal: Old Stones vs. New Glass

Old Stones versus New Glass is a documentary film is about a family that used to enjoy living in a traditional home in an Old Tbilisi neighborhood, but now the family is considering a move to a modern apartment. Some friends have left because they could not afford to maintain/restore their homes. Others are staying because they enjoy “the spirit of old Tbilisi,” and they want children to enjoy the cultural experience that the parents and grandparents value. Viewers hear family members talk about their dilemma, and viewers see the family in everyday activities. The family’s quandry of whether to stay or leave represents the larger conflict in Tbilisi between people who want to preserve historic buildings/neighborhoods and people who want to construct modern structures. Preservation experts and archival photos (video) provide information about Old Tbilisi. Background information about modern construction is provided in interviews with developers, construction company managers, and city officials.

Film proposal: Wanted: Traditions, Dead or Alive

This documentary video tells the story of the six families in Adishi, a remote village in the mountainous Svaneti region of Georgia, as they struggle to overcome the harsh winters and the area’s lack of economic opportunity. While showing the town’s setting near 15,000-foot peaks in the Caucasus Mountains, as well as the abandoned nearby towns, a narrator provides some background about the town. Then the film tells the story of each of the six families left in Adishi. The suspense builds as the audience guesses who will be the next family to leave. The film ends by returning to the family most likely to stay the longest.

One audience consists of people living in remote mountain ranges around the world. Another audience consists of travelers who like to learn about other cultures, in particular, cultures that have remained relatively unchanged by globalization. People interested in tourism will also enjoy this film.

In this video, people from each family will tell the story of their families.


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