John Brown University announced this week that Dr. Marquita Smith, department head and associate professor of communication, has been selected to receive a 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Her teaching-research project, titled “Courageous Communication: Creating Journalism that Matters,” is designed to cultivate media development through multiple platforms.
Smith’s grant for the Mass Communications, Journalism and Broadcasting teaching/research position in Ghana is only given to one recipient each year. She will leave for West Africa in August to teach and conduct research at the University of Ghana, Legon.
“Dr. Smith has been instrumental in improving and expanding the communication department for the past six years and inspiring so many JBU students in the process,” said Ed Ericson, vice president for academic affairs. “We are so proud of her achievement and look forward to reports from Ghana as she continues her excellent work overseas.”
While in Ghana, Smith will team up with faculty at the university to research current healthcare media coverage in Ghana, including the recent Ebola crisis. Smith said she chose to focus on teaching the comprehensive coverage of national topics because of the importance of media in Ghanaian and global development.
“I want to prepare the future Ghanaian media leaders to be effective communicators in the political climate of their nation,” Smith said. “A project focused on public health journalism would give Ghanaians more voice in their personal and general health issues and possibly increase citizens’ engagement with health news.”
Smith plans to focus on how to adapt to a rapidly changing pace of media through online platforms and alternative avenues. Smith also hopes to explore the differences and similarities between American and sub-Saharan African media with her students.
“Talking about the comparisons will hopefully help students gain a deeper perspective of what it means to have a working free press,” Smith said. Ultimately, she hopes to teach her students to articulate through multiple media platforms what they believe about their media culture and why.
The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored and managed by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. Smith is one of only 1,200 U.S. scholars and professionals to be awarded a Fulbright grant. Learn more at http://www.cies.org.