by Kevin Dicciani
She has presented her research at a science festival in Sweden. She was invited to the White House to participate in a community briefing during former President Barack Obama’s presidency. She is the co-author of a forthcoming book on digital activism. And now Nora Madison, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at Chestnut Hill College, is the recipient of one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world: the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Grant.
Madison received the 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. As part of the grant, she will spend the upcoming academic year with the Digital Culture Program at the University of Bergen in Norway. There, as part of the scholarship, she will conduct a study, “The Semiotics of Digital Protest: Your Resistance Has Become Meme.”
Madison, who also coordinates the communication program at CHC, said receiving the Fulbright grant validates her years of hard work and scholarship.
“I’ve really been pushing this research forward with love and dedication, and it feels really nice to have this structural support and belief in the value of the work as well as the time to focus on it and do it well,” Madison said. “Traveling and getting outside your comfort zone and engaging with students in another culture – in another language and with a different set of social expectations about education – will be really good for me as a professor and a person.”
Established in 1946 by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program provides research and teaching opportunities to professors, artists, lawyers and other professionals. It is the largest U.S. cultural exchange program of its kind, granting approximately 470 awards each year to American scholars and professionals. Former grant winners include Bose Corporation founder Amar Bose, writer Sylvia Plath and composer Philip Glass.
Madison’s research at the University in Bergen will prove beneficial for her students, too. Using her experiences in Norway as the foundation, Madison and her students will study how education, culture and politics are viewed and interpreted by Scandinavians. By exploring a diverse landscape of ideas and juxtaposing their findings with present trends in the U.S., she and her students stand to gain a worldview that can further illuminate their understanding of what it means to live as members of a global society.
“Scholarship and the pursuit of understanding the world are critical to relating to students, understanding the world they live in and giving them a vision of something grander that they haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully engage in themselves,” said Madison, whose research goal in Norway is to build upon her research by studying “the digital spaces used to create, disseminate and curate messages of resistance.”
Madison’s research on digital activism is featured in a forthcoming book she co-authored with Mathias Klang, “Everyday Activism: Technologies of Resistance.” The book explores how resistance is accomplished with mobile devices and social media platforms. It is tentatively scheduled for publication in December of this year.
The Fulbright scholarship is yet another award Madison can add to her list of various grants and scholarships. In 2011, she received the HASTAC Scholars Fellowship, which allowed her to write and research at a crossroad where technology meets the liberal arts.
A year later, the Ford Foundation awarded her the Emerging Scholars International Research Grant to support dissertation data collection and analysis. Madison has also authored and published nearly a dozen articles in academic journals and periodicals about everything from chemotherapy to the policing of social norms through social media to virtual ethnography.
“When your research is supported, and you’re funded both structurally and emotionally, the work reminds you of what you have to give, and I think it makes you want to give even more,” she said. “So while I’m excited to go, I’m also really excited to come back and see who I am at the end of this journey and what I’m going to be able to pass along to others.”
This article was excerpted, with permission, from the Chestnut Hill College website. Visit CHC.edu for more information.