Dimitrova reflects on Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Vienna

During the summer 2022 semester, Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication Professor Daniela Dimitrova traveled to Vienna, Austria, for a Fulbright Fellowship. The University of Vienna hosted Dimitrova as Fulbright-University of Vienna Visiting Professor of Social Sciences.

The application process to receive a Fulbright Fellowship is not only long, but also quite competitive and requires a list of supporting documents to attest to the applicant’s ability. Dimitrova had a letter of invitation from the Chair of the Communication Sciences department, Prof. Dr. Jörg Matthes, at the University of Vienna to aid in her application.

While in Austria, Dimitrova balanced her time between teaching and research. She taught a Ph.D. seminar on publication strategies and a master’s seminar on media and migration. Dimiitrova also offered a research talk and a workshop for selected Ph.D. students within the college. Her research focused on how migration was discussed in the media. Dimitrova worked with nonprofit organizations to understand how they communicate on behalf of refugees and migrants.

The Russia-Ukraine war impacted Dimitrova’s research and teaching in various ways. Nonprofit organizations involved in her research were inundated with refugees. A student in Dimitrova’s master’s seminar was a Ukrainian refugee and educated the class about different aspects of reporting on the war.

“It made my research very relevant,” said Dimitrova. “All of a sudden, we had a huge group of displaced people coming into Austria. It also made the research a little more challenging because the organizations I was wanting to work with and interview now had to shift their priority and were extremely busy.”

Being abroad allowed her to experience a different teaching culture that she described as more hierarchical and respectful. Dimitrova noticed higher level of independence compared to her graduate students in America.

After seeing the high caliber of work that her Austrian students showed, Dimitrova is hoping to challenge her Iowa State students more. She believes they are able to rise to the academic challenges presented to them.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity. I’m grateful to the Greenlee School for allowing me to go as well as to the college and university because it wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have the support here,” said Dimitrova.