Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Fulbright Scholar Bethany McGowan researches the influence of policy and legislation on information-seeking behavior

March 4th, 2024

Associate Professor Bethany McGowan was awarded a prestigious 2023–24 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award that enabled her collaboration with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in Finland. During her Fulbright experience, she conducted an in-depth examination of how regulatory and ethical principles can be leveraged to mitigate the spread of dis/misinformation.

As part of her Fulbright journey, McGowan assumed a Visiting Associate Professor position in the Communication Sciences Unit at Tampere University. Here, she delivered a graduate course on infodemiology, emphasizing effective strategies for managing information flow and combating misinformation, particularly in the context of public health emergencies.

“My Fulbright experience afforded me the invaluable opportunity to forge collaborative relationships with scholars and practitioners not only in Finland but also throughout the Nordic region. It provided me with the necessary support, time, and perspective to broaden my research endeavors on a global scale.”

Bethany McGowan

McGowan received the Fulbright Finland Seeking Solutions for Global Challenges Award. This accolade, designed to “empower the minds that will find global solutions to tomorrow’s challenges by fostering academic and professional expertise and excellence in leadership”, provided the framework for her project approach. Her research focused on the influence of policy and legislation on information-seeking behavior, with a keen emphasis on their impact on individuals’ ability to discern misinformation. Moreover, her research enriched her understanding of health information-seeking behavior within diverse cultural contexts.

McGowan was also honored with an Intercountry Travel Award for Fulbright Scholars in Europe, which provided funding for a brief visit to Sweden. This opportunity allowed her to broaden the scope of her research to encompass the Nordic region and the European Union.

McGowan is one of eight Purdue University faculty to have been named 2023–24 Fulbright U.S. Scholars marking the third time eight Purdue faculty have received Fulbright Awards in a single year. The grant period spanned from August 2023 to January 2024.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. It is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program.

For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided participants, who are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to the challenges facing our communities and our world.