USI PhD thesis wins international award for research on journalism and mass media


Institutional Communication Service

13 June 2022

Rana Arafat, post-doc assistant at USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, has won the Nafziger-White-Salwen Dissertation Award 2022 with her doctoral thesis "Rethinking Digital Media Use for Diasporic Political Participation: An investigation into Journalism Advocacy, Digital Activism, and Democratic Divides". The award recognises “excellence in PhD dissertation research that demonstrates potentially significant impact and importance in the field of journalism and communication research” and will be presented to Dr Rana Arafat during the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC)’s Annual Conference on Friday 5 August in Detroit, United States.


Would you like to tell us something about your thesis?

My interdisciplinary PhD project combines journalism and political communication research fields offering innovative theoretical frameworks for re-conceptualising journalism advocacy within the diasporic conflict context with a focus on investigating the diaspora journalists' digital networks that blend activism, human rights advocacy, social movements, and civil society work to support social change in the war-torn homelands. The dissertation moves the scholarly discussion forward by developing a novel understanding of the Hybrid Diasporic Public Sphere concept by examining how three groups of diasporic exiles (diaspora journalists, activists, and ordinary refugees settled in democratic states) use digital media to engage in transnational conflicts and political participation.


Your thesis was challenging work, but the accolades came quickly: how do you feel about it?

Writing my PhD dissertation was a very challenging but exciting journey. I won 8 prestigious academic awards during and after my PhD studies. I am always happy and excited that my hard work and research innovation are being appreciated and recognised by top international communication and media institutions, including the International Communication Association (ICA), The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), and the European Communication Association (ECREA). I want to thank my PhD supervisors (Prof Jolanta Drzewiecka and Prof Stephan Russ-Mohl) for their continuous support and guidance. I also want to thank Universita della Svizzera italiana (USI) and the amazing colleagues at the Institute of Media and Journalism (IMeG), especially Professors Matthew Hibbert, Colin Porlezza, Eleonora Benecchi, and Gabriel Balbi, for their support and inclusion. It is important to also express my gratitude to the Swiss Excellence Government Scholarships (ESKAS) for supporting international students and allowing them to study in Switzerland, build careers, and explore their academic and professional talents and potential.