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Rhonda Zaharna

Professor School of Communication

R.S. (Rhonda) Zaharna is a full professor and Director of the International Media program in the School of Communication, American University, Washington, D.C. She specializes in public diplomacy, and intercultural and international strategic communication. In addition to teaching strategic communication for 30 years, she has advised on communication projects for multinational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and USAID. Her books include, Battles to Bridges: U.S. Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy after 9/11 (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010; 2014) The Connective Mindshift: Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy (co-edited with Amelia Arsenault and Ali Fisher; Routledge, 2013) and The Cultural Awakening in Public Diplomacy (Figueroa Press, 2012). She is currently working on a book on the cultural underbelly of public diplomacy, which explores how identity politics combined with differing communication logics can undermine communication between nations and publics in the global political arena. Her research has appeared in the International Journal of Communication, The Hague Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, Public Relations Review, Global Media Journal, and International Journal of Intercultural Relations. She has testified before the U.S. Congress on several occasions and has addressed diplomatic and academic forums on public diplomacy, including the Otago Foreign Policy School, Confucius Institute Global Conference, Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) and DERSAT (Bahrain), International Islamic University of Malaysia, and NATO Defense College. She is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar and Research Fellow, Center on Public Diplomacy (USC).

Degrees

BS, Foreign Service, Georgetown University; MEd, Communication, Columbia University; Ed.D., Communication, Columbia University

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Office
SOC - School of Communication
McKinley - 211
Contact Info
(202) 885-3995

Send email to Rhonda Zaharna

For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.
See Also

Teaching

  • Fall 2016

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

 Selected Scholarly Publications

    R.S. Zaharna, A. Arsenault and A. Fisher (Eds.), The Connective Mindshift: Relational, Network and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy. (New York: Routledge, 2013).

     

    R.S. Zaharna, The Cultural Awakening in Public Diplomacy, CPD Perspectives on Public Diplomacy (Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2012).

     

    R.S. Zaharna, Battles to Bridges: U.S. Strategic Communication and Public Diplomacy after 9/11 (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010).  * Paperback edition with Foreword by Nicholas J. Cull, August 2014

        

  • More of professor Zaharna's selected scholarly publications
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    R.S. Zaharna, "Reassessing “Whose story wins:” Identity Resilience and Narrative Paradoxes in Public Diplomacy," International Journal of Communication (in press, 2016)

     R.S. Zaharna & Nur Uysal. Going for the Jugular in Public Diplomacy: How adversarial publics are using social media are challenging state legitimacy. Public Relations Review, 42 (2016), pp. 109-119.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.07.006

     

    R.S. Zaharna. Beyond the Individualism-Collectivism Divide to Relationalism: Explicating Cultural Assumptions in the Concept of ‘Relationships.’ Communication Theory, 26 (2016), pp. 190-211. doi:10.1111/comt.12058)

     

    R.S. Zaharna, “China’s Confucius Institutes: Understanding the Relational Structure & Relational Dynamics of Network Collaboration,” Jain Wang (Ed.), Confucius Institutes and the Globalization of China’s Soft Power. CPD Perspective on Public Diplomacy. (Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2014)  

     

 

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

      
  • Top Faculty Paper, Public Relations Division, National Communication Association, 2014
  • Research Fellowship, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California (2011-2013)
  • Top Research Paper, International Communication, International Studies Association, 2011

Professional Presentations

 Invited Presentations & Conference Presentations   

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Reaffirming American Values: Combating Anti-Muslim Speech and Behavior,” National Institute for Civil Discourse, Workshop, 11-13 July 2016. *Invited

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Matching Global Communication Reach with Global Communication Mindset,” Otago Foreign Policy School, Otago University, New Zealand, 1-3 July 2016. *Invited Plenary Speaker

 

R.S. Zaharna, “The Communitive Power of Narrative Battles versus Identity Resilience in Public Diplomacy,” Paper presentation, International Communication Association, Fukuoko, Japan, 9-13 June, 2016.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “The Power of Trust in Public Relations,” (Discussant), International Communication Association, Fukuoko, Japan, 9-13 June, 2016.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Role of Women in promoting Interfaith Dialogue and Countering Violent Extremism,” Institute for Interfaith Dialogue and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kosovo), Prishtina, Kosovo, 31 May-June 2, 2016. *Invited

 

 

R.S. Zaharna, Symposium 2015: Building a More Secure World, Public Diplomacy for 21st Century Actors (panel moderator), Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (Syracuse University), Washington, DC, November 5, 2015. *Invited

R.S. Zaharna, "Contested Narratives, Contested Identities: Exploring the Relational Dynamics and Identity Function in Public Diplomacy," International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 20, 2015.

 

R.S. Zaharna, "South Africa - Nation Branding as Public Diplomacy," International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21, 2015.

 

Di Wu, & R.S. Zaharna, "Building Guanxi in Cultural Diplomacy:  An Intercultural Communication Analysis of China’s Confucius Institute Initiative," International Communication Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 21, 2015.

 

R.S. Zaharna, "Rapid Response Public Diplomacy," International Studies Association. New Orleans, February 19, 2015.

 

R.S. Zaharna, "The Identity Function of Public Diplomacy: Exploring Identity Narratives," International Studies Association, New Orleans. February 18, 2015.

 

R.S. Zaharna, The Confucius Institutes as a New Cultural Diplomacy. Confucius Institute Global Conference, Xiamen, China, December 9, 2014.

 

R.S. Zaharna & Nur Uysal, “Going for the Jugular: The Challenge from the 4th Quadrant of a Relational Public Diplomacy Model” National Communication Association Conference, November 20-23, 2014 *Top Faculty Paper, announced June 30, 2014

 

R.S. Zaharna, "Workshop participant," Second International Conference on Interfaith Dialogue, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prizen, Kosovo, May 23, 2014. *Invited

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Diaspora in Reactive Public Diplomacy,” International Studies Association, Toronto, March 24-27, 2014.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “The "Relational Turn" to the Hard Questions in Public Diplomacy,  International Studies Association, Toronto, March 24-27, 2014.

 

R.S. Zaharna, "China's Confucius Institute: The Soft Power Differential," 9th Annual Research Conference, New Era in Cultural Diplomacy, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Los Angeles, February 28, 2014. *Invited

 

R.S. Zaharna, "Exploring Cultural Assumptions of “Relationships” in Organization-Public Relations (OPR): Relationship-building and Relational-being," National Communication Association, Washington, DC, November 21, 2013.

 

R. S. Zaharna, "Public Diplomacy: The “Sunrise” and Communication Synergy of a New Field," National Communication Association, Washington, DC, November 21, 2013. (Panel Organizer & Chair)

 

R.S. Zaharna, “The Critical Role of the Domestic Public in Public Diplomacy,” Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars Conference “Public Diplomacy on the Frontlines,” Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, May 3, 2013. *Invited

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Relational Approaches in Public Diplomacy,” International Studies Association, San Francisco, April 5, 2013.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “The Connective Mindshift in Public Diplomacy,” International Studies Association, San Francisco, April 5, 2013.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Trends in Political Mobilization: How State and Non-State Actors Are Using the Traditional and Social Media to Engage the Public,” Regional Realities of Gulf Security and Transregional Concerns Symposium sponsored by Royal United Serves Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) and DERSAT, Bahrain, June 12-13, 2012. *Invited

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Analyzing China’s Confucius Institutes as a Network Public Diplomacy Initiative,” International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, April 1-4, 2012.

 

R.S. Zaharna, “Public Diplomacy Analysis of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” First Global Congress for Muslim Public Relations Practitioners, Kuala Lumpur, December 5-8, 2011. *Invited

Congressional Testimony

       
  • "9/11 Commission Recommendations on Public Diplomacy” U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations August 23, 2004
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  • "Public Diplomacy and Islam" U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations February 27,2003.
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  • "Are We Listening to the Arab Street?" U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations October 8, 2002.

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