Adjunct Professor Dr. Irene Wu has won a fellowship at the Wilson Center, a leading think tank for international affairs that serves as the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, the only American President to hold a Ph.D. The Wilson Center is a non-partisan policy forum that tackles global issues with independent research to inform the policy community. In the spirit of President Wilson, the center bridges academia and public policy to develop solutions to national problems and challenges.
Dr. Wu's Wilson Center research project is to measure countries’ soft power – or power to persuade – which contrasts with nations’ military and economic power. She plans to develop indicators that track the level of information and cultural exchange across countries. The term “soft power” has catch-all quality to the concept that is reflected in the research to date. For many scholars the sources of soft power include culture, values, education, media, and religion, none of which are easy to define or measure. The focus of the soft power literature, reflecting its roots in the study of military and economic power, is on the country projecting the power. Much less attention is paid to the characteristics of the country subject to soft power influence. Dr. Wu’s research will focus on how countries receive, or reject, the soft power of others. Current indicators of cultural exchange include migration, international education, travel, and movies. Dr. Wu will also work on developing indicators of digital communication and online networks and communities.
To pursue the fellowship, Dr. Wu will be on leave from the Federal Communications Commission. She will, however, be teaching the International ICTs, Business, and Politics research seminar (CCTP-811) this Fall, which gives students the opportunity for tailored teaching and mentorship on a research topic of their choice in the realm of communications policy.