School of Communication
Rhonda Zaharna is a full-time professor of Public Communication. She specializes in intercultural and international strategic communication, with an emphasis on culture and communication in the Arab and Islamic regions. In addition to teaching strategic communication for nearly 20 years, she has advised on communication projects for multinational corporations, non governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and USAID. She has repeatedly testified before the US Congress and has addressed diplomatic audiences and military personnel in the United States and Europe on cross-cultural communication and public diplomacy. She is author of the book, Battles to Bridges: US Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy after 9/11 (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010).
Dr. Zaharna was recently awarded a two-year research fellowship (2011-2013)with the University of Southern California, Center for Public Diplomacy. The focus of her research in on the "Cultural Underbelly of Public Diplomacy."
DegreesBS, Foreign Service, Georgetown University; MEd, Communication, Columbia University; Ed.D., Communication, Columbia University
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Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
Public Diplomacy Analysis
- "Improving US-Muslim Relations: Obama's Other Audience," Foreign Policy in Focus, June 5, 2009.
- "Obama, US Public Diplomacy and the Islamic World," World Politics Review, March 16, 2009.
- "The Soft Power Differential: Network Communication & Mass Communication in Public Diplomacy," The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 2 (2007), pp. 213-228.
- "The US Credibility Deficit," Foreign Policy in Focus, December 13, 2006.
- "Tools of Engagement," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 62 (September/October 2006), pp. 66-68.
- “The Network Paradigm of Strategic Public Diplomacy,” Policy Brief, Foreign Policy in Focus, Vol. 10, No. 1, April 2005.
- Switching the Strategic Focus of American Public Diplomacy: Forget Battles, Think Bridges," Foreign Policy in Focus, October 23, 2004.
- More of professor Zaharna's public diplomacy analysis
Selected Scholarly Publications
- "An Associative Approach to Intercultural Communication Competence in the Arab World," in D. Deardorff (ed.) Sage Handbook of Intercultural Communication Competence (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009), pp. 179-195.
- "Palestinian Public Relations: A Social Networking Model," [co-authors Ahmed Ibrahim Hammad and Jane Masri], in K. Sriramesh & D. Vercic (eds.), The Handbook of Global Public Relations, Vol. 2 (New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 220-242.
- "Information and Relational Communication Frameworks of Strategic Public Diplomacy," in N. Snow and P.M. Taylor (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy (New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 86-100.
- "Al-Jazeera & American Public Diplomacy: A Dance of Intercultural Miscommunication," in M. Zayani (ed.) Critical Perspectives on Al Jazeera (London: Pluto Press, 2005), pp. 183-202.
- "From Propaganda to Public Diplomacy in an Information Age," in Y. Kamalipour and N. Snow (eds.) War, Media and Propaganda: A Global Perspective (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004) pp. 219-225.
"Asymmetry of Cultural Styles & the Unintended Consequences of Crisis Public Diplomacy," in Intercultural Communication & Diplomacy (Malta: Diplo Foundation, 2004), pp. 133-142.
- More of professor Zaharna's selected scholarly publications
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- World Association of Former United Nationa Interns and Fellows, 2001
- Fulbright Senior Scholar, 1996
- American University Senate Research Competition Award, 1993
- Curriculum Development Grant, 1993
- Top Paper, International & Intercultural Communication, International Communication Association, 1989
- Dissertation Award, Society for Intercultural Training, Education and Research, 1987
- "US Public Diplomacy through the Looking Glass," Symposium on Religion, Media and International Affairs, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, April 4, 2009.
- "Technology in Assertive & Associative Public Diplomacy," International Symposium on Transformational Public Diplomacy," Diplomatic Academy of London, Westminster University, London, April 31-May 1, 2008.
“Islam and the Media,” Carnegie Foundation: Islamic Initiative, Washington, DC. April 22, 2008.
"Words as Bridges: Information- versus Relations-based Rhetorical Strategies in the War on Terror," International Studies Association, Chicago, March 1-3, 2007.
"The Network Communication Paradigm: Creating Soft Power in a Global Communication Era," International Studies Association, Chicago, March 1-3, 2007.
- "9/11 Commission Recommendations on Public Diplomacy” U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations August 23, 2004
- "Public Diplomacy and Islam" U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations February 27,2003.
- "Are We Listening to the Arab Street?" U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations October 8, 2002.
AU News and Achievements
No Snow Days in Communication Professor’s Classroom
Rhonda Zaharna moves the discussion to Facebook as thunder snow shuts down the university....
Fulbright Scholar Bringing Expertise to Study of American Media
Nadia Dala, a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at American University's School of Communication, is completing ...