Don Ellis-Fulbright

Don Ellis
University of Hartford

Fulbright to Israel

I spent a year in Israel as a Fulbright at Tel Aviv University in 2004-2005. I taught a course but also was doing research for my book on communication and ethnopolitical conflict which was published in 2006. It was a terrific experience and I recommend it to anyone especially if you can go for a longer period of time.

A Fulbright definitely requires planning. You can probably only go while on sabbatical and the application is due about a year before your actual sabbatical. Pay attention to the deadlines and make sure you apply for the proper time. Fulbrights are usually for research, teaching or combination of both. It depends on what the host institution wants. Getting a letter of invitation, a statement from the host institution that they want you, is invaluable. If you just apply in the blind your odds become very small.

In my case, I had been working in my area of expertise for quite a while and knew people at the host institution. I contacted them and requested a letter of invitation. But if you do not know someone then assert yourself and make some phone calls to see if you can actually get an invitation. The people at the host institution might have heard of your work or will become familiar with it after you apply. I applied for both the combination of teaching and research and this was agreeable to the host institution because they wanted courses taught as well as providing me with an opportunity to complete the book I wrote at the time.

Fulbrights are terrific experiences and worth the application hassle. But finding a way to make yourself known to the host institution, making contact with people at that institution and having that result in a letter of invitation is crucial.

Joseph Zompetti-Fulbright

Joseph Zompetti
Professor of Communication
Illinois State University

Fulbright to Sri Lanka

My Fulbright was in 1993 to Sri Lanka. I emailed the department of political science at the University of Colombo to arrange collaboration for research on the legacies of colonialism on the civil strife occurring in Sri Lanka. Once I arrived in Sri Lanka, I met with members of the political science department who then helped me locate important libraries, book stores, and individuals to interview for my research. As I was there, the civil war intensified and communication with individuals ceased. Unfortunately, those contacts did not last, and many of the individuals with whom I worked are no longer at the University. Nevertheless, while I was in Sri Lanka, the individuals at the University of Colombo were extremely helpful and welcoming. I strongly encourage anyone interested in Sri Lanka to reach out to relevant departments and introduce themselves to Sri Lankan academics. My experience suggests that the Sri Lankan academics will be more than willing to help however they can.

UPDATE 4/2/16:
Zompetti was also the recipient of a Fulbright grant to travel to Brazil in summer 2015. Zompetti taught at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), located in Belo Horizonte. The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) allowed Zompetti to teach a graduate course in cultural studies, work in a research consortium and lecture at nearby universities. The experience lasted 35 days.

Cross-cultural Research with Children

Cross-Cultural Research with Children: Negotiating the Labyrinth of Institutional (Ethics) Review Boards (IRBs) through Proactive Partnerships

Doing research with children in multiple countries is rewarding, but also challenging. For many scholars, one particular challenge involves working with institutional review boards (IRBs), independent ethical review boards designed to protect human subjects.  Over time, IRBs developed norms for consent, assent, confidentiality, and privacy, among other concerns that provide standard protocols for research practices. For example, in the United States, children under the age of 18 are considered minors. In almost all research situations, informed consent standards require that in addition to receiving verbal or written assent from the children themselves, the parents or guardians of the children must provide written consent as well.  Although parental consent may be waived in certain situations, this waiver is rare and another protection mechanism for children must be provided.

Unfortunately, this standard protocol does not always translate across countries. Different countries approach guardianship as well as the practice(s) of research differently, creating a number of challenges during our IRB submission. We learned these challenges the hard way when doing research on children’s conceptualizations of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers in 4 countries. At the end of the project, we had gathered data from over 400 Pre-K through 4th grade children (typically ages 4 – 10, some as young as 3) in four countries (Belgium, China, Lebanon, and the United States); however, getting IRB approval for all 4 countries took almost a year because what is typical in the U.S. for data collection with children is not always typical elsewhere. Ethical practice requires contextual understanding. Accordingly, we were asked and had to figure out how to communicate and document these cultural differences to our U.S. IRB in ethical research a manner that allowed them to achieve their central objectives even as the protocols—from their initial perspective—looked different from what they considered “typical” for research such as ours. (Certainly anthropologists, sociologists, and other scholars who have historically and routinely engaged in cross-cultural or international research have successfully addressed such challenges; however, the increasing global economy and interest in global and intercultural scholarship has extended these challenges to a broader array of disciplines that may be less familiar with how cross-cultural research complicates research logistics even as it can enhance research richness).

A graduate student at the time of this research, the process of working with IRB through this process, while at times frustrating, taught me—and my colleagues (Dr. Lorraine Kisselburgh, then a graduate student, and Dr. Patrice Buzzanell, the PI and originator of the project)—a lot about some of the logistical nuances of cross-cultural research, data collection with children, and working with ethical review boards. Our hope is that the examples from our research will help you anticipate potential miscommunications and resistance to cultural differences so that we can gain the cross-cultural and lifespan benefits that come from studies such as this. An unintended benefit of this process, was the opportunity we had to communicate and partner with IRB personnel to expand cross-cultural understandings of particular cultural practices and norms in terms of parenting and guardianship as well as conducting research.

In all 4 countries, we recruited children through local schools. In the United States, in addition to school board, principal, and teacher permission, we gathered consent and assent forms from every participating student, consistent with typical U.S. IRB protocols for young children.  This process worked similarly in Lebanon; however, we had to change the process for Belgium and China.  In Belgium, as soon as the child arrives at school each morning, guardianship transfers to school officials. This means that if there is a medical emergency or a research request, the administrator(s) and/or teachers can authorize action. Guardianship thus transfers from parents to school administrators and back during the day. Parents do not have to be contacted. Parental consent for research also operates differently in China.  Here—at the elementary schools affiliated with universities—parental consent for research conducted in the elementary schools was only required for biomedical research (e.g., drawing blood). Since our research involved questions such as “what do you want to be when you grow up?,” our Chinese collaborators informed us that sending letters home and requesting parental consent would have caused undue concern among the parents, violating a primary goal that the typical parental consent process was intended to fulfill.

As one might imagine, it took a while to work through the standardized IRB processes that are not set up to deal with research situations like ours. The lack of inclusion of parental consent forms for the protocols for Belgium and China were initially questioned. The idea of guardianship and therefore the authority of consent transferring out of the control of parents based on context was foreign to the administrative assistants responsible for the initial review of our IRB applications. After a few unsuccessful emails, we met in person with IRB assistants and decision makers to work through the details of crafting a protocol that was culturally sensitive, consistent with U.S. human subjects requirements, and met overall research goals.  In addition to guardianship concerns, for data collection in Belgium and China, we were partnering with non-U.S. colleagues to collect the data as none of us spoke either Flemish or Mandarin. As a result, there were a number of initial concerns from IRB administrative staff, given recent reports of research abuses within and outside of the U.S., that all research personnel be familiar with and follow the ethical principles around which U.S. IRB orient. However, talking through their concerns and ours helped. Even with the incredible volume and hard work these IRB staff experience daily, they worked diligently with us through rounds of meetings and letters to find appropriate ways to address the cross-cultural differences that complicate understandings and applications of human subject protections.

The communication strategy we found most successful involved teasing out IRBs specific goals and finding reasonable ways to fulfill human subject goals and achieve our research goals. In addition to documenting how research and guardianship worked in the Belgium and China, we were initially asked to provide signed documents on letterhead from high level government or education officials who could attest to this as the national norm, in English or written in the national language and then translated into English by an independent, verified translator. Needless to say, we as researchers did not have access to high government officials.  So we negotiated again, explaining our dilemma and asking: “Can you tell us the purpose of this particular letter/document?” Once we understood their purpose, we were able to provide letters from different, more accessible sources. For example, for our data collection in Belgium, we had the head of a university ethics board write a letter approving our research protocol as consistent with national and university norms. In China, we were able to find a university official who could provide similar documentation. In both cases, we also helped the letter writers understand the purpose and perspective of the IRB, so that they could tailor their letters appropriately.

So when I do a study like this again, I would work harder to anticipate the perspective of the IRB, informing them about the different cultural protocols with appropriate documentation, talking with the IRB in advance, and leaving lots of time to work through all the details. Specifically, I would recommend that I/you:

1)    Think like the IRB. Be sure you understand the goals and objectives of IRB generally, and your IRB personnel specifically. Set-up your application to meet their goals in language they understand. In addition to the human subjects protections, increased threats of legal liability and negative press increase pressures to avoid anything potentially problematic. Show them why it is not a problem, from their perspective—whether your audience is the initial gatekeepers or the full board. Before you submit your application, see #2.

2)    Be proactive and initiate a partnership. If your study is going to deviate from the national (or institutional) norm, and you have good reasons for doing so, talk to IRB personnel in advance. IRB personnel can often help you know what language to use and/or what documentation to provide. Even when you are frustrated by what seems to be administrative hoop-jumping, rather than human subjects protection, keep the goals in sight: protecting human subjects while getting rich, cross-cultural, lifespan data. It may not always seem that way, but you’re on the same team. Go into the meeting knowing your key objectives, your best understanding of theirs, and ask questions to help you understand the specific obstacles. As more researchers complete cross-cultural work with minors, these new understandings of cultural differences will become part of institutional memory, but it takes time, especially with the regular turnover of IRB boards.

3)    Leave time. Lots of time. Start early and be persistent. As we worked through each country, one-by-one, we were able to begin gathering data, so we started to see the rewards of all these logistical efforts. Not anticipating the challenges, including a number of others not listed here (e.g., school board review timelines, anti-research teachers, different interview approaches), delayed access to the data, but we got the data, and we’re better prepared for the next collection.

4)    Be strategic. And as a graduate student or tenure-track professor: When you get the chance to do a logistically complicated study like this, do it (but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for the dissertation), you’ll learn a lot. Have other, complementary research projects that give you access to data that doesn’t require the same logistical overhead.

Although only one part of the logistical story of collecting data across countries with children, it, along with our other research adventures, provided a complement to formal education that few experiences could match.

Dr. Brenda L. Berkelaar
in consultation with Dr. Lorraine Kisselburgh & Dr. Patrice M. Buzzanell


Dr. Brenda L. Berkelaar (Ph.D. Purdue University) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where she does research on work, careers, and new technologies/new media. Dr. Lorraine Kisselburgh, is an Assistant Professor in Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University, and conducts research on intersections of organization, technology, and gender and difference. Dr. Patrice M. Buzzanell, the P.I. and originator of the research study is a professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University who researches career, leadership, and work-life issues, particularly relating to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines).

More details on our research process are addressed in a chapter earlier presented to the 2009 Chinese Communication Association Convention and published as:

Kisselburgh, L.G., Berkelaar, B.L., & Buzzanell, P.M. (2010). Collaborative research in global contexts: Institutional and ethical synergies. In Communication in e-Society: Innovation, collaboration and responsibility (pp. 69-84). Shanghai, China: Shanghai People’s Publishing House.

If you are interested in some of the results of the study, recent publications include:

Buzzanell, P. M., Berkelaar, B. L., & Kisselburgh, L.G. (2012). Expanding understandings of mediated and human socialization agents: Chinese children talk about desirable work and career. China Media Research, 8(1), 1-14.

Berkelaar, B. L., Buzzanell, P. M., Kisselburgh, L. G., Tan, W., Shen, Y. (2012).  “First, it’s dirty. Second, it’s dangerous. Third, it’s insulting”: Chinese children talk about dirty work. Communication Monographs, 79(1), 93-114. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2011.646490

Buzzanell, P. M. (2011). Interrogating culture. Intercultural Communication Studies, 20(1), 1-16.

Buzzanell, P. M., Berkelaar, B. L., & Kisselburgh, L. K. (2011). From the mouths of babes: Exploring families’ career socialization of young children in China, Lebanon, Belgium, and the United States, Journal of Family Communication, 11(2), 148-164. doi:10.1080/15267431.2011.554494

Kisselburgh, L., Berkelaar, B. L., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2009). Discourse, gender, and the meanings of work: Rearticulating science, technology, and engineering careers through communicative lenses. In C. Beck (Ed.), Communication yearbook 33 (pp. 258-299). New York: Routledge.

We are grateful for collaborations and assistance  from colleagues throughout the world, especially including Wufeng Tan (China), Yiwen Shen (China), Steven Eggermont (Belgium), Abrar Hammoud (USA), Rebecca Dohrman (USA), and countless others who helped with data collection, transcription, and translation.

Todd Sandel – Fulbright

Todd Sandel
University of Macau

Fulbright to Taiwan

From 2007-2008 I had the privilege of being a Fulbright Scholar in the traditional, 10 month, program to Taiwan. I was hosted by my friend and former University of Illinois classmate, Dr. Chung-Hui Liang at the Center for General Education, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu. We collaborated on a study of a recent trend in international migration, namely the rise in the number of “foreign brides” from such places as Mainland China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia, who through commercial brokers and/or personal connections, marry men in Taiwan. I continue to collaborate with Dr. Liang and work on this project.

Another wonderful benefit of the Fulbright Program is the financial support it provides for family members. (Be aware, however, that family member benefits are covered by the host country and vary.) My spouse and children joined me and we all had a wonderful time of cultural and language learning. Our youngest daughter became fluent in Mandarin Chinese at the primary school she attended, and my two older children, whose tuition at an American school in Taichung was paid by Fulbright, gained fluency in Chinese and learned a lot of up-to-date slang and popular culture that I was not aware of!

Finally, my Fulbright experience led me to my current position in the Department of Communication at the University of Macau. I attended a conference for all “Greater China” Fulbrighters held in Hong Kong. The last part of the conference included a visit to Macau and the University of Macau. Intrigued by Macau as a place of cultural dynamism and impressed with the university, I made a return visit a couple of months later to give lectures and a longer visit. One thing led to another and this year, 2012, I have a position in Macau. This has opened up opportunities for me to continue to do research in nearby Taiwan, Macau, and nearby provinces of China.

Fulbright can be a life changing experience for you just as it has been for me.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz Fulbright

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Fulbright Senior Specialist to Portugal

One thing leads to another. This is the story of how I became a Fulbright Specialist in Portugal.

In May 2010 I retired from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. In fall 2010 I applied to the Fulbright Specialist Program, and was approved in spring 2011. This program funds 2 to 6 week visits in 2 countries during a period of 5 years, including airfare and a daily stipend (host institutions cover room and board and in-country travel if it is necessary). In September 2011, while at a conference in Paris, a colleague found out I would be traveling to Portugal for pleasure. He provided an email  introduction to a scholar there with overlapping interests, with the result that I was asked to give two talks at the Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra in November. There was a good fit between my project in France at that time (describing US higher education pedagogy) and the needs of a new teaching center at IPC, so I was asked to return for a longer visit. My host, Dr. Susana Gonçalves, is the director of the new center, Centro de Inovação e Estudo da Pedagogia no Ensino Superior (CINEP). She completed the necessary paperwork, and in spring 2012 the request was approved by both Portugal and the US State Department.

I spent 6 weeks at IPC across April and May 2012, working with the director and staff to determine what information is most relevant to their needs, presenting multiple workshops at the difference schools making up the university, and meeting individually and in small groups with faculty on a variety of pedagogical matters. Workshops included: “The transformation of higher education: Lessons from the US and implications for Portugal,” “Best practices in blended delivery,” “Active learning: Hands-on practice,” “The impact of student-centered learning for curricular design,” and “How to write exams so students need to come to class.”

Groups included one from the Engineering school interested in math pedagogy, and one from the Education school interested in reflective practice for preschool teachers. Individual consultations ranged even more widely, from very specific questions on a particular pedagogical technique, to more general questions about common academic concerns, including student motivation and integration of technology into courses. I was also invited to speak to students enrolled in a Master’s level course on marketing.

While in Coimbra, I was invited to present several talks on my research at the University of Coimbra and the University of Lisbon. I also met with the company members of Project Llull, which uses theatre to start intercultural dialogues.

In addition, I was able to connect some of the people I met through these various contexts with colleagues in the US or elsewhere having similar research, teaching, or administrative interests.

***Update: Publication resulting from this Fulbright

Fulbright Program

FulbrightsThe Fulbright International Exchange Program, under the auspices of the US State Department, offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States. Different programs are available for faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates (see links to all the different programs). Although most of the programs are for full years, the Fulbright Specialist Program offers stays of 2-6 weeks. Fulbrights are one of the easiest ways for US academics to connect internationally.

By 2014 Fulbright circulated the following information: “As of last year, lifetime limits on Fulbright Scholar Program grants have been lifted, as have waiting periods between grants. This means more flexibility and opportunity to partake in Fulbright experiences throughout your career; you can participate on a semester-long award and not jeopardize your ability to get back on the Roster or your other future participation.” So for those who have already had one Fulbright, consider requesting another!

A few examples of Communication scholars who have been awarded Fulbrights are listed below. If you have completed any of the varieties of Fulbright awards, and wish to have your description added, send an email with details, or post a comment below.

Mara Adelman – Ethiopia
David L. Altheide – Germany and Portugal
Richard Buttny – Malaysia and India
Kevin Barnhurst – Peru and Italy
Donal Carbaugh – Finland
Kristen Cvancara – Finland
Steven Darian – Uzbekistan
Don Ellis – Israel
Glenn Geiser-Getz (Russia & Ghana)
Phillip Glenn – Moldava
Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz – Portugal
Sheila McNamee – Colombia
Tema Milstein – New Zealand

Jon Nussbaum – Wales
Susan Opt – Czech Republic
Todd Sandel – Taiwan
James Schnell – Cambodia
Stacey K. Sowards – Indonesia
John Parrish-Sprowl – Macedonia and Belarus

Ayseli Usluata – USA (from Turkey)
Paul Voakes – Uganda
Joseph Zompetti – Sri Lanka and Brazil

Stories from many of these Fulbrighters (and others) are included in chapter The value of a Fulbright: Internationalizing education one person at a time, published in Internationalizing the communication curriculum in an age of globalization.

Donal Carbaugh-Fulbright

Donal Carbaugh
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Distinguished Fulbright Professor to Finland

The Fulbright Program is an outstanding resource for collaborating with others on studies of communication, dialogue, and intercultural relations. I have been extremely fortunate over the years to have the support of this program. This began in 1992-1993 when my family and I lived in Finland where I worked with colleagues at the Universities of Tampere and Jyvaskyla, and at the Turku School of Economics. Later, during the 2007-2008 academic year, I held the position of Distinguished Fulbright Professor and Bicentennial Chair of North American Studies at the University of Helsinki. These opportunities have led to longstanding collaborations with colleagues in Finland, to a deepening of studies in intercultural communication and dialogue, and to forging personal relationships that will last a lifetime.

On a related note, on May 11, I will present the closing address at the University of Helsinki’s 14th Biennial Maple Leaf and Eagle conference: “An American West and a Western World: From American Indians to Aristotle and back again.”

Central China Normal University

On March 28, 2012, I presented a talk entitled “From Generation to Generation: Maintaining Cultural Identity over Time” to the School of Foreign Languages, part of the Central China Normal University, in Wuhan, China.

My thanks to Zongping Xiang (Eudora), a faculty member in the Department of English, who invited me and made all of the arrangements, including dinner with several of the faculty afterwards. My thanks to Prof. Hua Xianfa, Chair of the Department of English, who was able to attend, and my apologies that we did not think to take the photograph until after he had left.

Profs Shu Baimei and Leeds-Hurwitz, Ms. Yu Bo and Zongping Xiang

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wuhan University 2012

On March 26, 2012, I presented a talk entitled “Interactional resources for the “problem” of intercultural communication” at Wuhan University, in Wuhan, China. Last year when I was in China, I was invited to return in order to visit Wuhan, which I was able to do this year, and I found it a delightful city and campus. I owe great thanks to my host, Prof. SHAN Bo, the Associate Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, and also Director of the Research Center for Intercultural Communication, at Wuhan University, for the invitation, and for organizing all of the events. Dr. LIU Xue served as my contact for logistics, and was of great help, whatever was needed.

Prof Leeds-Hurwitz, Liu Xinya, Prof Shan, Liu Harrison, and Dr. Xin Jing, and Liu Xue (standing)

There were multiple lunches, dinners, and conversations with various combinations of faculty and graduate students over the week I was at Wuhan, as well as an entire afternoon spent sorting out areas of overlapping interests with Prof. Shan. Some of the other faculty members I met are shown below.

Li Jiali, Xiao Jun, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Si Jingxin

I was lucky enough to be in Wuhan for sakura (the cherry blossoms). They are a major tourist attraction, and the campus was full of visitors during that week.

Profs. Shan and Leeds-Hurwitz

I was assigned two graduate student guide/translators, LIU Xinya (Cynthia) and Harrison LIU, pictured below at the Yellow Crane tower which we visited, among other sites. The Hubei provincial museum was also quite impressive.

I look forward to continued connections of several types with Wuhan in the future.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Beijing International Studies University 2012

From March 11-23, 2012, I took on the role of visiting professor at the School of English of the Beijing International Studies University, in China. (In China, intercultural communication is often viewed as an extension of foreign language training in order to ensure that students achieve intercultural communicative competence.

As part of my responsibilities there, I taught a graduate seminar on research methods, and also delivered several presentations.

On March 13 and 16, I presented on the topic of “The Social Construction of Identity.” On March 20, the topic was “The History of Intercultural Communication in the United States.

On March 21, I participated in a workshop on “Training for Intercultural Competence in the United States; Prof. JIANG Fei, Director of the Department of Communication, and also Director of the Center for World Media Studies, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was the respondent. He and his wife, Dr. Viola Kuo HUANG, introduced my husband and me to a new form of Chinese buffet one evening.

My sincere thanks to Dr. HONG Liang, Associate Dean of the School of English and an intercultural communication scholar, for inviting me, organizing all of the events, including multiple meals with faculty and graduate students, and ensuring the success of the visit. Dr. GU Guoping (Gordon), from the American Studies department, helped with logistics ahead of time, and offered the official welcome when I arrived. Dr. David YU, Chair of the Department of Intercultural Communication, met with me over several days, and then provided the official farewell when I left. Dr. Ivory Juan ZHANG of the same department, participated in several events. Dr. Belinda Zou of the School of International Education not only attended most of the graduate seminar and the other lectures, but also volunteered to play tour guide and showed off parts of Beijing I had not yet visited.

Lu Qinsha (Emily), a master’s level student studying intercultural communication, was my guide and translator for the entire visit. To Emily and all of the other students, I hope you learned enough about research methods to have an easier time preparing your masters’ theses! To the faculty members, I look forward to continuing the connection in the future.

While in Beijing, although it was spring, there was one cold night, and it snowed. This was the view from the campus hotel (from the 18th floor) of the campus. The next morning students were having snowball fights!

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue