Dialogue with Social Media Guru Prof. Jonathan Sullivan

Jonathan Sullivan

Prof. Jonathan Sullivan is the editor of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute blog. He is widely known as a scholar highly active on social media. One rarely finds a professor who is so enthusiastic about having dialogues with scholars, students, journalists and China observers on a daily basis. Prof. Sullivan is coming to Helsinki to give a guest lecture on “The Importance of Engagement: Understanding In and Out of the Academy” on May 13 (10-12 am, Room A205, Unioninkatu 38). Before his visit, here is our Q&A with him!


Question 1: Can you tell us a bit about Nottingham’s China Policy Institute blog?

The CPI blog was launched in 2012, and I took over the editorship in Feb 2013. The readership in 2012 was 30K for the year, but after I took it over it increased to 100K and now it is about 150K per year. I also expanded the range of topics covered and reached out to external contributors across all continents. In the past year we had about 350 different contributors–mainly scholars, and located across the world.

In the past year we have published special issues of the blog around the following themes:

  • Food (historical perspective, health, food safety, obesity in China…)
  • Languages in China (bilingualism and English schools in China)
  • Fashion (textile industry, emerging Chinese brands…)
  • Christianity in China
  • Chinese journalism
  • China and Italy
  • Climate Change
  • Confucianism and politics
  • China and the Middle East
  • Chinese art market
  • China and North Korea
  • Enduring themes of Chinese propaganda
  • How technology is changing China and its engagement with the world
  • Perspectives on Chinese education
  • Urbanisation
  • Xi’s visit to the UK
  • Tourism
  • Legal System
  • Xinjiang and Tibet
  • China and Russia
  • Soft Power
  • e-commerce
  • China Africa Summit
  • Energy policy
  • Gender issue
  • Internal migration
  • Xi & USA
  • CCP & KMT
  • WWII in Asia
  • News media
  • Anti-corruption Campaign
  • The Internet
  • Taiwan’s elections

The blog is part of my overall social media operation–I run the CPI Twitter and FaceBook feeds, and incorporate it into my own Twitter feed. It is part of my own “personal brand building” through my work with the media and growing my digital footprint. Some of these themes are developed in my papers on China scholars and the media & China scholars and Twitter.

Question 2: What do you plan to do in Finland/Helsinki?

In my guest lecture I want to approach external engagement in the China field from three angles:

1) by establishing the need for China experts to engage outside the academy by looking at biases in western media coverage;

2) by establishing a rationale for individuals to use the media and a digital profile to build recognition for their research and a personal brand; and

3) to look at how individuals and China related institutions can use external engagement in practical way to increase their visibility and impact inside and outside the field of China Studies.

Besides this lecture, I am happy to talk with students or other audiences about my two current research projects, on Taiwanese politics and Chinese celebrity.

I am also looking forward to interacting with Finnish academic colleagues and establishing links with China scholars in the country–which I have not had the pleasure of visiting before.

Jonathan Sullivan Lecture