Name: Benjamin J. Youngerman
Where the project will take place: Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji
One sentence description of project: I would like to analyze media coverage and interview journalists of Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji to examine their perspective on the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, as well as the resulting impact on the perceptions of both urban and rural natives of these countries.
When grant is to be used (month/year) and approximate duration of project (in weeks): Note: A grant recipient may be required to repay a portion of his/her grant if the trip is terminated early. The Dean Rusk Program staff retains the authority to determine the sum of such a reimbursement. This does not apply to cases in which early termination results from developments beyond the grant recipient’s control.
September 1, 2008 through December 15, 2008 [approximately 15 weeks]
Total amount project is expected to cost: $5000
Amount requested from the Dean Rusk International Studies Program: $4000
(Total amount of project – personal funds and other grants = amount requested)
Have you received any previous grants from the Dean Rusk Program?
Please explain all other potential or actual sources of funding for this project (including other grants, personal savings, family contribution, Davidson College scholarships that provide summer travel/research funds etc.).
I am also applying for an Abernethy Grant in order to help fund my project. Personally, I can offer very little monetary contribution to this project. My family may be able to contribute a modest amount, but not nearly enough for me to complete the project in its entirety.
What effect would lack of a Dean Rusk grant or an amount less than requested have on your travel plans?
Without the Dean Rusk and/or Abernethy grant, I will be unable to complete this project. I will still study abroad in Australia, but I will be unable to interview journalists around Australia as well as in New Zealand and Fiji, to assess media coverage in these countries, nor to interview a broad base of native citizens for a more comprehensive project.
Have you had previous experience abroad? If so, please describe briefly.
I have only been abroad once in my life. I was in Rome with my high school Latin class during the spring of my senior year. Our Latin teacher of four years took us all over the city and, during that week, I learned more about Roman culture than I could possible have imagined. It was without question one of the most tremendous experiences of my life and a key stimulus for both this study abroad trip and the research proposal.
List your involvement with the Dean Rusk International Studies Program and/or other international activities on campus:
While I have not been involved with Dean Rusk, I have many other areas of involvement on campus that expose me to a range of individuals including international students. These activities include serving as a tour guide for the Admissions office, as a tutor in the Speaking Center, and as a member of the Career Services Student Advisory Group.
Please provide a budget for your project. Use as much detail as possible.
Note: The Dean Rusk Program will not provide funds for the purchase of technological items that will have a useful life beyond your trip abroad. For example, you may not use Dean Rusk grant funds to purchase cameras or tape recorders. Do not include these items in your project budget. If you use grant funds to purchase items of this nature, Davidson College will either take possession of those items or ask you to pay back a sum equal to the purchase price. If you have questions about whether or not a particular item falls into this category, ask the Dean Rusk Program staff before you submit your proposal.
Travel: $2700 for airline tickets, car rentals and trains. Air tickets [booked very far in advance] cost between $250-$400 roundtrip depending on where I am traveling.
Lodging: $1000 (assuming a hostel room is $35 per night and I spend roughly 30 nights traveling)
Meals: $1000 (at roughly $35 per day for 30 days)
Newspapers to see Coverage: $200 (assuming $2 per day for the roughly 100 days I will be in the South Pacific).
Please attach a description of your proposed project (or study abroad experience) and how a grant would be used. Explain in as much detail as possible what you plan to do, why you want to do it, and what you think the project will allow you to contribute to the Davidson community.
As the 2008 United States Presidential election season is upon us, U.S. citizens are especially interested in politics and the effect it has on their lives. However, as Americans citizens, we often fail to realize that we are not the only people with strong opinions of the presidential candidates. Many foreign citizens follow the United States election, either because it interests them, or because they realize it may very well affect their lives in some way. I will be studying at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, this fall, including enrollment in Communication 12-203, a course on the analysis of mass media. While abroad, I would like to travel throughout the South Pacific to examine how the media, both foreign and in the U.S., influence South Pacific natives’ opinions of the candidates currently running for president, the U.S. Electoral College system, and the United States overall. In addition, I would like to interview both journalists and citizens from Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji to gain their perspectives on the U.S. presidential election, and to explore the potential impact of media coverage on those perspectives.
In order to accomplish this project and to gain a wide range of perspectives, I need to be able to travel not only to urban areas, but also rural areas; and not only wealthy areas, but also middle-class and poor areas. In order to accomplish this, I plan to spend many of my weekends traveling to various locations throughout Australia. I also then plan to spend two weeks after classes and exams have finished traveling to New Zealand and Fiji.
My interest in this project stems from a variety of sources. Having taken both Communication Studies classes offered at Davidson and working in the Davidson College Speaking Center for 3 semesters, I have grown to have a great curiosity about and love for the study of communication and how it affects our perceptions. In addition, I have always had a strong interest in the U.S. media and the effects they have on American politics. I have contacted several newspapers in the South Pacific via email, including The Australian, The New Zealand Herald, and The Fiji Times. I have also contacted a television station in each country including the Australian Broadcast Corporation, Television New Zealand, and Fiji TV. By working with these media outlets, I hope to gain access to information on media coverage of the election and also contact people whom I can interview about the election and its coverage.
The amount of media exposure that South Pacific citizens have is tremendous and I’m hoping this means I will find varied opinions and perspectives. As Jeremy Tunstall notes in The Media are American, “Australians are perhaps the only national population outside North America substantial proportions of whom actually see more American television programming than do millions of light viewers of televisions in the USA itself” (Tunstall 106). I would like to explore whether Tunstall’s assertion holds across countries, communities, and socio-economic levels; for example, are there differences in access to American versus indigenous coverage of the U.S. election?
Finally, I would like to complete this project because I feel it will allow me to bring a completely different perspective to election and politics discussions in the Davidson classroom and community. In my “Parties and Interest Groups” class with Dr. Susan Roberts, we often discuss how the media can influence voters’ vantage points and perspectives. I feel that after meeting with native South Pacific citizens of different races, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds, I will be able to bring an entirely new point of view to classroom discussion of these issues. In addition, as an economics major, I will be taking International Economics upon my return to Davidson, a class where my examination of how wealth and status affect political opinions would be beneficial.