FIF Erasmus – Teaching and archive research at Leipzig University

Professor Tom Watson of the Faculty of Media & Communication visited the University of Leipzig in Germany from June 7 to 12 on a FIF Erasmus visit.

In addition to a seminar on the history of public relations to students on the university’s highly-rated Master of Communication Management programme and workshops on academic writing and Delphi method to doctoral research students, he spent time in the university’s archive.

There he investigated the files of the German PR pioneer Dr Albert Oeckl, looking especially at Oeckl’s involvement with the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) whose archive is held at BU.

He was presented with a trolley containing 14 box files of material ranging from the late 1950s to the early 1990s (see Photo). In these, he found numerous papers and references to IPRA’s early work on the development of international curricula for university-level PR education.

“The Archive’s staff was very welcoming and so helpful in identifying relevant material. Selected documents will used in future research on the formation of public relations studies around the world,” Professor Watson said.

“Material from our IPRA archive has already shaped research papers from authors in Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece and the UK. This link with the Leipzig Archive adds more detail to IPRA initiatives and policy statements that were already known about.”

Professor Watson said that archive research was already influencing a major revision of the history of public relations that will become evident in the teaching of courses. In his Masters seminar, he presented outcomes of recent multi-nation research that challenges many existing texts about PR’s historical evolution.

“I hope that BU can develop an archive similar to Leipzig University’s, although it has a head-start from its beginnings in 1409”, he said. “It’s a resource that aids the Fusion concept.”