Erasmus Mundus: Intercultural Mediation 2014-15

Call for scholars scholarship open until 7th of July 2014

Master Erasmus Mundus “Intercultural Mediation: Identities, Mobilities, Conflicts” offers interdisciplinary training for excellence in 4 semesters, Federated by joint research programs within a consortium: Université de Lille (France), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgique), University College Cork (Irlande), Université « Babes-Bolyai » (Roumanie), Université de Wroclaw (Pologne), Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Sénégal), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexique) and Université Fédérale de Rio de Janeiro (Brésil). Des professionnels et des institutions publiques et privées (Professionals and public and private institutions associated with them).

Located in territories shaped by migration, these institutions have been led to question the social changes, cultural and resulting policies and now extend to the global society. It therefore became necessary to train experts of migration, integration, management of cultural and linguistic diversity, with particular expertise in ethics.


Conflict Conference U Texas Austin

The Conflict Conference (TCC) will hold its first annual conference at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) on April 10-11, 2014. TCC is a multidisciplinary annual conference promoting the study of conflict and conflict resolution. We invite papers on any relevant topic, such as apologies, advocacy, dispute resolution, peace, negotiation, reconciliation,  mediation,  restorative  justice, conflict management, and ethics.

The DEADLINE for submissions is 10 DECEMBER 2013. Notices of acceptance will be sent no later than 31 January 2014. Paper proposals must include the author’s name and institutional affiliation, the title of the paper, and an abstract of no more than 150 words for the program. In addition, proposals must include a 600 word extended abstract without personal information. (Be as specific as you can, even if your project is still gestating.) Documents must be attached to an email as a pdf or Word document. TCC welcomes submissions from students. Please indicate student status in all paper proposals. Please send all proposals to TCC.

Conference panels will be held on Thursday, April 10th, and Friday, April 11th  on the  UT-Austin campus.  Keynote speakers  will address the conference both Thursday and Friday. TCC will host a cocktail mixer the evening of Thursday, April 10th at a nearby off- campus location and host a closing party off campus Friday, April 11th. A detailed schedule will be sent to participants at a later date. A conference registration fee of USD $25.00 is required. Watch for updates on our webpage.

This conference is sponsored by the UT Project for Conflict Resolution.


U South Florida job ad

The Department of Communication at the University of South Florida invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor to begin August 2013.  Applicants must have been awarded a doctorate in Communication by September 1, 2012. We seek a candidate whose central focus is interpersonal and relational communication and who can also offer courses and research supervision in one or more of the following areas: dialogue, applied communication, and ethics. Applicants should have a research and teaching profile that fits with our department’s qualitative, critical, and interpretive orientation, and our integration of social science with humanistic, narrative, and performative approaches to inquiry. The successful candidate will have a record of published scholarship and successful teaching experience commensurate with the length of time since earning the Ph.D. and appropriate for appointment in a doctoral degree granting department at a Research I university. The ideal candidate will have a record of (or potential for) securing external funding for research, mentoring graduate students, and building productive connections with local and/or global research sites.  Salary is negotiable and will be commensurate with the candidate’s credentials and experience.

According to Florida law, applications and meetings regarding the search are open to the public. For disability accommodations, please notify the search chair at least five working days in advance of need. USF is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Equal Access employer. The department strongly encourages applications from scholars of color.

Application materials (hard copy and online) must be received by November 19, 2012.

A completed application file includes a letter of application, curriculum vitae, three letters of recommendation, documentation of successful teaching and research productivity (include up to three published works). Paper copies of these must be received by November 19, 2012. Send paper copies to:
Dr. Ambar Basu
Chair, Search Committee
Department of Communication
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Avenue CIS1040
Tampa, FL 33620-7800

In addition, copies of your application materials, excluding the reference letters, must be submitted online via the following link.

The University of South Florida is one of only three Florida public universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the top tier of research universities (RU/VH), a distinction attained by only 2.3% of all U.S. universities. USF is ranked 50th in the nation in total research expenditures and 27th in federal research expenditures for public universities by the National Science Foundation.  The university is authorized to provide 237 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. USF ranks 10th among all universities granted U.S. patents in 2011 according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association, an increase of more than 3 percent from 2010. The University has a $1.5 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference

Further information about the department, its students, and faculty is available at our website. Inquiries can be addressed to Dr. Ambar Basu (abasu AT

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.

College of Charleston job

The Department of Communication at the College of Charleston announces a tenure-track Assistant Professor position, to begin August 2012. Ph.D. in communication or mass communication required by time of appointment.

This position requires a specialty in strategic communication or public relations.  Applicants with expertise in international or global public relations and/or ethics are especially welcome. All methodological perspectives will be considered.  Teaching assignments depend on the expertise of the successful applicant but will include basic, capstone and writing intensive courses in strategic communication and mass media. Qualified candidates will be expected to contribute at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  Research active faculty carry a 3-2 teaching load.

Evidence of effective teaching (e.g., syllabi, examples of student work, student evaluations), a description of your commitment to the most recent pedagogical and technological advances, and evidence of scholarly or creative potential (e.g., samples of previous work) are required.

Interested candidates should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, teaching portfolio, unofficial graduate transcripts, and three letters of reference should be sent electronically (preferred) or by regular mail to the search committee:

Dr. Amanda Ruth-McSwain, Search Committee Chair
Department of Communication
College of Charleston
66 George Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29424

Review of materials will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  Materials should arrive by October 1, 2011 to assure full consideration.

This collegial department has over 20 full-time faculty, approximately 750 undergraduate majors, and a master’s program. To learn more about the department and the College of Charleston, founded in 1770 and located in the historic downtown area, visit our Web site at  A description of our world class Advisory Council can be found at The College of Charleston has adopted a strategic plan emphasizing interdisciplinary research and teaching and placing a high priority on international initiatives.

The College of Charleston is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer and strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.  The College of Charleston is committed to creating a diverse community.