At a time when people understand their world through social media, research on sites such as Twitter can illuminate how new media are being used to forge identities, disseminate information, and generate social change. Stephen Barnard studied these issues in his 2012-13 Mizzou Advantage postdoctoral fellowship, which entailed teaching peace studies courses while being housed in the School of Journalism to work collaboratively on innovative-media-of-the-future research projects. “Teaching helps me understand ever-changing forms of media, which benefits my research. I am able to find connections and new questions from my daily classes, along with the issues that are most relevant to my students,” Barnard states.
Barnard is polishing up his dissertation, titled Twitter and the Journalistic Field: How the Growth of a New(s) Medium is Transforming Journalism, into publishable articles. His course New Media, Conflict, and Control was taught in spring 2013 for Peace Studies and Sociology. As seen through the recent examples from the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, social media can serve an integral function in democratic mobilizations. The course explored the increasing role of new media tools in protests and conflicts, as well as the paradoxical potential for surveillance that these technologies afford.
Barnard currently holds a three-year Postdoctoral Fellow/Lecturer position in the Media, Film and Journalism Studies Department at Denver University. MU Peace Studies Director Clarence Lo looks forward to the time when the Peace Studies endowment will bring other postdoctoral scholars to MU to teach and do research. Peace Studies is building its endowment, and the yearly interest is now sufficient to hire a postdoc who will be recruited in a national search.