December 01, 2014

Graduate Program in Communication Garners Gold Award


By Diane Luckow

A new, two-year double MA in global communication, taught jointly at Simon Fraser University and the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing, has won a gold award for educational excellence from the Canada China Business Council (CCBC). The CCBC facilitates Canada-China bilateral business, trade and investment.

SFU and CUC launched the double MA program in fall 2013, attracting graduate applicants from around the world. Ten students from a variety of countries formed the first cohort in 2013 and another 10 students began the program in fall 2014. Each cohort studies for one year at each university.

The program combines core courses, electives, tailored colloquia series, research papers and field placements in both countries. Instruction is in English, but students must demonstrate a basic proficiency in Mandarin or complete a non-credit introductory course.

Students graduate with an MA from each university, and a minimum of 80 hours of communication-related work experience at a variety of government, industry or civil society organizations in both Canada and China.

“The program strikes a balance between professional training and scholarly preparation for advanced doctoral studies,” says founding director Yuezhi Zhao, a SFU communication professor and Canada Research Chair in Political Economy of Global Communication. She is also the Changjiang Chair professor at CUC.

“Our goal is to offer more than just an ambitious and innovative academic curriculum,” she adds. “We want to give students a transformational experience that enriches their global cultural knowledge and learning.”

Second-year B.C. student Lyne Sitong Lin, who earned a bachelor of commerce (hons) from UBC, says the program so far has been “spectacular.”

“It offers experiences that are simply not afforded elsewhere,” she says. “The program’s interdisciplinary design has ignited interests in areas I had never considered, and I was offered a rare field placement to intern at a leading Canadian think tank.”

B.C. First Nations student Michelle Nahanee, of the Squamish Nation, joined the program’s second cohort in fall 2014 after completing a BA at Royal Roads University earlier this year.

“I’m always trying to change the perception of Aboriginal people through images, media, and telling our stories,” says Nahanee, who has an established career in graphic design and marketing and communications for First Nations organizations.

Pursuing the double MA in global communication, she says, will give her a new avenue for bringing her ideas into a global context and a better understanding of how to assist First Nations in their work with transnational organizations.