Among the Center for Global Communication Studies’ many links to like-minded institutions around the world (see main story) is Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, where Monroe Price and the CGCS helped create the Center for Media and Communications Studies. A number of CGCS students are doing research there, including journalist and Annenberg Ph.D. candidate Susan Haas. For her research on Radio Free Europe, she is making use of CEU’s unique Open Society Archives (OSA), a trove of information on the Cold War and life in the post-communist era. (The OSA’s 1956 Digital Archive, for example, contains international media coverage of the Hungarian revolution and interviews with Hungarian refugees, as well as declassified briefings and weekly summaries by the CIA.)

“When I got to the archive it was summer and they weren’t open, but because I was with Annenberg I was allowed in,” Haas recalls. “They brought me 37 boxes of files. CGCS opens doors.” In return, two CEU doctoral students came to Philadelphia in 2005 and helped organize the “Re: Activism” conference in Budapest that fall.

Antonio Lambino III, a second-year Ph.D. candidate at the Annenberg School, is a former Fulbright scholar who once worked as a news anchor in his native Philippines. Lambino later joined the government to work on his country’s development efforts, traveling with international partners to the poorest villages to talk to people and figure out how to improve their lives. After earning his Ph.D., he wants to take what he has learned back home, and use policy to give people some control over their own lives.

The opportunity to study with Price was a major factor in Lambino’s decision to come to Annenberg, and he refers to Price as “an excellent example of a public intellectual—someone who uses their academic training to effect change.” Having attended the Global Media Policy Institute at Oxford, where Susan Abbott, now the CGCS’s senior research coordinator, also met Price, Lambino describes the experience as “intense.”

“To increase global awareness is not as simple as putting people from other countries in the same room,” says Lambino, “but that’s part of it.”

In October 2005, Abbott and Lambino participated in the Global Forum for Media Development conference in Amman, Jordan, which brought hundreds of media professionals together to discuss involvement in developing nations.

“Face to face, [the CGCS] allows people to share interests and experiences and fall in love with a different part of the world,” says Lambino. “On an institutional level, it ensures that these experiences are sustainable, and increases the chance that you’ll make a dent.”

Briar Smith, a second-year Ph.D. candidate at Annenberg, participated in an international workshop on China’s hosting of the Olympics, sponsored by Communications University of China in Beijing and the CGCS. While the games don’t begin until 2008, there’s plenty to talk about already—China has been creating its accompanying media message for years.

“Comparative studies are useful to understand this,” says Smith, who notes that, among earlier Olympics hosts, Barcelona ran a “tight image campaign,” while “Atlanta was poorly run, image-wise” and Athens “didn’t open a communications office until two months before the Olympics.”

China opened its communications office in 2001, and the Olympic mascots chosen by the Chinese government are loaded with symbolic meaning, Smith points out. One is a Tibetan antelope—a very controversial choice, she says, since in the wake of the Chinese invasion, Chinese soldiers depleted the real antelopes that used to live in the Tibetan mountains.

She also learned a lot from Chinese scholars.

“One of the things the center has been good at balancing is to not go into things thinking we have all the answers,” says Annenberg Dean Michael Delli Carpini. “We think we have something to share with scholars and practitioners around the world, but we also always enter that conversation realizing we’re going to learn things as well.”

“The difference with real-world solutions versus academic research is that it’s sped-up,” says Price. “Scholarly work takes longer. But in dealing with reality, you need immediate answers.”

—K.H.

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