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Yuezhi Zhao, professor and Canada Research Chair, receives Canada's highest academic honour

September 10, 2019

Canada Research Chair and professor of communication Yuezhi Zhao has been named as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the country’s highest academic honour.  

A groundbreaking researcher, Zhao contributed to theories on Anglo-American journalistic objectivity long before debates on “fake news,” and her innovative global-to-village transcultural political economy scholarship transcends the East/West dichotomy and integrates theoretical and applied approaches, while contributing to international collaboration, pedagogical innovation, network-building, and grassroots empowerment. 

Zhao arrived at SFU as an MA student in 1986, and completed both her MA (1989) and PhD (1996). After spending three years as a faculty member in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, she returned to SFU in 2000. She continues to be an influential researcher and innovative scholar who has written extensively on the political economic and sociocultural dimensions of China’s rapidly transforming communication system and the role of communication in China’s global reintegration. 

Her many books and edited volumes, written in both English and Chinese, include Communication in China: Political Economy, Power and Conflict, and Communication and Society: Political Economic and Cultural Analysis.

As the founding director of SFU’s MA Double Degree Program in Global Communication, Zhao’s work has also benefitted graduate students in this unique program who gain international experience and receive a degree from both SFU and the Communication University of China.   

Zhao is joined by seven other SFU researchers who have also been named to the Royal Society of Canada — six of them as fellows, and one as a member of the society’s College of New Scholars, Scientists and Artists. Find out more about the other scholars in the SFU News story.

Established in 1882 as Canada’s national academy, the society promotes research and learning in the arts, humanities and sciences. The society awards fellowships to peer-elected and distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions in these fields. The society’s mandate is to build a better future for Canada and the world.

Zhao’s work follows a line of influential Canadian communication scholars starting with Dallas Smythe, a founder of the field of political economy of communication and leading scholar who had significant influence in American and international communication policy. A professor of communication at SFU from 1976 to 1992, Smythe had a major impact on Zhao’s scholarly pursuits.

Through her work with government authorities, media, and grassroots social groups, Zhao’s research in the political economy of communication and her transcultural scholarly praxisproduces real-world impact. She enriches understanding of Anglo-American media by analyzing the politics of journalistic objectivity, informs current debates about the nature of China’s ongoing transformation with provocative analysis of Chinese communication politics, and challenges global communication scholars to transcend East-West, economy-culture and state-market dichotomies.

“At a time when networked communications and information technologies are playing an ever more pivotal role in both geopolitics and our personal lives,” says Zhao, “I find my area of research truly exciting, and the potential for bringing about real-world impact is significant.”