Jeff South Wins Fulbright

Jeff South, Associate Professor in the School of Mass Communications and director of the Capital News Service, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach in China for the Spring 2014 semester. His host institution will be Northeast Normal University (NENU) in Changchun, a city (pop. 3.3 million) in far northeast China. As a Teaching Scholar/Lecturer, Jeff will teach journalism and mass communications courses. Jeff will teach in English, although he has been studying Mandarin Chinese the past few months to have working knowledge of the language.

The spring semester at NENU begins in early February, right after the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. The semester ends in July.

In June, Jeff attended an orientation that the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, which administers the Fulbright program, and the U.S. State Department held in Washington, D.C., for Fulbright scholars and researchers who will be going to China this year. There are nine other scholar-lecturers — including one journalism educator: Andrew Leckey, an endowed professor at Arizona State University, where he serves as president of the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

Jeff applied for the Fulbright in Summer 2013. In his application, he discussed his “belief in the transformative power of journalism: that shining a light on wrongdoings can bring about positive change.” Jeff demonstrated how his background has prepared him for a Fulbright in China: he spent about two decades as a reporter and editor on newspapers in Texas, Arizona and Virginia; served two years in the Peace Corps teaching English in Africa; he spent seven months teaching investigative reporting in Ukraine as part of a Knight International Journalism Fellowship; and has been teaching at VCU since 1997.

I am especially grateful to Dr. Yan Jin, who served as interim director of VCU’s School of Mass Communications, for her support of my Fulbright application. Yan, who is from China, wrote a letter as part of my Fulbright application. The school’s new director, Dr. Hong Cheng, who is also from China (now this must be karma!), also has given me wise advice about how to make the most of my time in China.

I am looking forward to this experience for several reasons. In terms of geopolitics, economics, the environment and other areas, the rise of China is arguably the most important development in the world today. What happens in China will shape everything else. As a Fulbright Scholar, I wish to witness – and, in at least a small way, contribute to – what’s happening in China. I also am hopeful that my Fulbright will open the doors for more collaboration between VCU and Chinese universities and study-abroad opportunities for students from both countries.”

Jeff’s biography on Mass Comm’s website.