Candace White, DeForrest Jackson Professor of Public Relations in the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations, has received a Fulbright Specialist Program Award. This spring she will be working with the Università degli Studi di Seina in Italy on a new Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in Cultural Relations and Diplomacy.
Fulbright Specialist awards differ somewhat from Fulbright Scholars awards. While both awards support U.S. scholars in working abroad, the Specialist award is designed to share expertise. Awardees engage in collaborations with international institutions to consult on curriculum, develop junior faculty, and assist with institutional planning.
White began her relationship with the university in Siena at an international conference where she met one of its scholars. After learning she leads an annual study abroad program in Siena and discovering their mutual research interests he invited her to visit the university.
“I was invited to lecture in his class about public diplomacy while I was there for study abroad,” White said. “At the time, the University of Siena was launching a new master’s Erasmus degree program, taught in English, in public and cultural diplomacy.” She was invited to join the program’s board of advisors and has been expanding collaborations with scholars in those research areas.
White’s Fulbright opportunity was originally scheduled for 2020, but was delayed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the intervening years White’s host, Pieranglo Isernia, won several grants which have led to the creation of the CREDO Centre for Excellence in Cultural Relations and Diplomacy at the university in Siena. The launch of the new institution will now coincide with White’s Specialist award, providing her a unique opportunity to assist in developing the program and its goals.
Her work with the Centre will include helping to create a venue for peer-reviewed academic papers at the biannual European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) conference, mentoring students on research and writing in English, serving as a guest lecturer, and collaborating on a research project investigating the effects of cultural diplomacy on cultural relations. White believes international perspectives are an invaluable resource to scholars and students everywhere.
“The non-US view of public and cultural diplomacy has enriched my own research and teaching, and I hope that my perspectives will be useful to others,” said White. “I want to do anything and everything I can to help put the new Centre for Excellence on the international map. I will also have study abroad students arriving in Siena just after the Fulbright ends. I hope to set up some opportunities, both social and academic, for University of Tennessee and University of Siena students to work and play together in a way that exemplifies true cultural diplomacy.”
The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting international collaborations and relationships between institutions. The University of Tennessee has a long relationship with the Fulbright program. Scholars from a variety of departments and disciplines have conducted research and collaborated with international colleagues and returned with valuable experiences and insights that contribute to the broader research enterprise of the university, benefiting students, local communities, and the state of Tennessee.