Unbundling of curriculum will make Mass Communication graduates masters of their trade- Prof. Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu

Nnamdi Ekeanyanwu is an established scholar of media and communication both within and beyond the continent. He has over 70 peer-reviewed research articles and books. The International Communication expert is the current President of the Nigerian chapter of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE). The University of Uyo professor spoke to AbitoCitta on his career journey, the unbundled curriculum of Mass Communication and other issues. Here are the excerpts.

AC: Could you please tell us about yourself?

PNE: Nnamdi Ekeanyanwuis a Professor of International and Strategic Communications, University of Uyo, Nigeria. He obtained his First, Second, and Doctorate degrees in Mass Communication, specializing in International Communication. He has been a three-term Head, Department of Mass Communication, Covenant University and a former Director, International Office and Linkages at the same University. Prof. Ekeanyanwu is a SUSI Scholar and Winner of the 2011 US sponsored Summer Study of the United States Institutes for Scholars (SUSI) in the area of Journalism and Media Studies. He spent his Fellowship tenure at the Institute for International Journalism, Ohio University, US. He is also a CIMARC Scholar. By the CIMARC Scholarship, Prof. Ekeanyanwu became a Short-Term Visiting Scholar to the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Prof. Ekeanyanwu is a Grantee, British Academy International Mobility Scheme Award for 2016 – 2017; TETFund Institutional-based Research Grant for 2017-2018, 2019-2020 and currently a Co-Grantee of the prestigious National Research Fund Grant administered by TETFund for the 2020-2022 academic sessions. Prof. Ekeanyanwu is the current Editor-In-Chief/Chairman Editorial Board, University of Uyo Journal of Humanities 2017 and Editor-In-Chief/Chairman Editorial Board, The Nigerian Journal of Communication. He has written over 70 peer-reviewed articles and books and spoken at various international conferences in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Nigeria. He is a member and current National President of the African Council for Communication Education; member of the International Communication Association (ICA); Member, Association of Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC); and Member, Global Partners in Education, East Carolina University, USA among many others.

AC: A look at your profile on Google Scholar and CV revealed that you have over 75 publications to your credit. How do you generate research ideas? How did you achieve this in about 17 years of your academic career?

PNE: Research ideas are products of many factors, and in my situation, they are products of my incessant quest for knowledge, teaching engagements, postgraduate supervision and interaction with students, readings, pursuit of grants and fellowship, and generally, scholarship related activities.

I was able to achieve the type of scholarship profile I have by God’s grace, academic focus, consistent hardwork, perseverance, submission to academic mentorship, good education and peer engagement.

AC: A look at your CV clearly revealed that you collaborated a lot with other researchers. What roles do you think collaborations play in the life of a researcher or academic?

PNE: I learnt a lot about academic collaboration during my tenure as Director, International Office and Linkages at Covenant University. I found out it is difficult to go far in academics without working with others. Even the student you teach as a lecturer needs other lecturers to do their bits well for yours to shine. In essence, academic collaborations are critical to the survival of any researcher or academic. Academic collaboration helps you highlight your strengths while taking advantage of others strengths. Collaborations help you understand that no one has a monopoly of knowledge and that most times, we need to work with others to achieve both corporate and individual goals and academic aspirations. In fact, some academic engagements and research are difficult to handle without some level of collaboration.

AC: A lot has been said regarding how archaic the Nigerian tertiary education is and how the graduates produced within the system has been unemployable. In this light, do you think the recent unbundling of the Mass Communication curriculum could address this?

The unbundling of mass communication in Nigerian universities will surely address the issues of archaic curricula and the type of specialization required to create modern jobs within the industry. With unbundling, communication graduates will no longer be jack of all trades and masters of none but would become masters in specific and special areas of communication. Today’s workplace is looking for specialists not generalists that the bundled curriculum produced. Specialization is therefore the future of the industry and unbundling makes this possible.

AC: Nigerian tertiary education and its stakeholders have come under fire lately due to challenges facing the system on post graduate training. How do you think post graduate training could be strengthened in Nigerian higher institutions?

PNE: Postgraduate training in the Nigerian university is not the ideal. To strengthen postgraduate training in Nigerian universities, some basic issues need to be addressed and some incentives put in place. The basic issues are admission and admission requirements; availability of research grants; specialization; mentorship and availability of experts. In essence, the university must attract the right kind of postgraduate students and only a viable admission requirement can ensure that this happens. There must be research grants for each postgraduate specialization as well as availability of research mentors and experts to guide the students.

AC: What roles do you think mentorship and networking play in the life of an early career researcher?

PNE: No early career researcher will go far in academics without mentoring and networking. I have already highlighted this argument in my discussion on the issue of collaboration. What I said there makes much more sense for the early career academics.

AC: You have been in charge of African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) Nigerian chapter in the last four years. What roles do you think associations such as ACCE could play in deepening communication pedagogy and research in Africa?

PNE: ACCE and other professional associations are critical in deepening communication pedagogy and research in Africa. Such associations serve as peer regulators to ensure basic standards are maintained as well as serve as a common forum to address quality and other related concerns. ACCE should also help to set academic standards and coffer legitimacy to communication scholars and communications schools and colleagues.

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