Heidi Tworek


Research Classification

Research Interests

history of media and communications
international organizations
international relations
Philosophy, History and Comparative Studies

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters



Master's students
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

China goes global: a history of Xinhua News Agency's international expansion from 1978 to 1989 (2022)

This thesis examines how the Communist Party of China (CCP) aimed to establish global media networks through Xinhua News Agency from 1978 to 1989. As China’s central news agency and the highest level of Party-state media, Xinhua was uniquely positioned as the CCP’s mouthpiece and intersection between national media, foreign affairs, and global news. This work focuses on Xinhua’s shift from expanding into the Global South, specifically in Southeast Asia and Central-West Africa, to exploring partnerships with industrialized nations like South Korea. This shift was due to Xinhua’s strategic division of the ‘globe’ into regions that supported its goals to become a world news agency and fulfill the CCP’s political objectives. Xinhua’s globalization came at the heels of the CCP’s reinstitution of “reform and opening” in 1978. This not only re-introduced policies of economic modernization and international re-engagement, but also a new conceptualization of the ‘news’ and news agencies in geopolitical affairs. Namely, Xinhua played a crucial role in this period as the news agency’s disaggregation of the Global South actively worked to achieve its ambitions to transform from a state-run national news agency to a world news agency. This thesis provides a more nuanced understanding into how China saw and defined the region of the “Global South” and contributes to the existing scholarship on South-South connections and China’s own globalization. By situating the CCP’s transformation of Xinhua within this global frame, it shows how Xinhua’s development was not achieved within a historical vacuum. Instead, this research not only demonstrates how the CCP’s goals from 1978 to 1989 are still relevant today, but also enables future scholarship to address broader considerations into how media serves different interest groups within world history and contemporary politics.

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A voice behind the headlines: the public relations of the Canadian Jewish Congress during World War II (2021)

This thesis examines the public relations campaigns of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) during World War II within the framework of agenda setting theory. As the voice of Canadian Jewry, the CJC implemented a sophisticated public relations strategy that brought attention to their causes in the non-Jewish press. From September 1939, the CJC capitalized on the patriotic atmosphere fostered by the war and the Canadian government. In a data-driven publicity campaign that would last the war, the CJC systematically both encouraged and tracked war efforts among Canadian Jews to fuel patriotic stories about Jews that improved their reputation. After it became clear in the summer of 1942 that the Nazis had begun exterminating Jews in Occupied Europe, the CJC started an awareness campaign in the non-Jewish press. Congress organized a mass rally in Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg that leveraged their patriotic reputation and brought both immediate and lasting coverage of Jewish extermination. By the spring of 1943, Congress believed they could persuade Canadians to rescue a number of refugees. To prevent an antisemitic backlash, they worked behind the scenes with their ally, the Canadian National Committee for Refugees (CNCR) and the activist professor, Watson Thomson, on a press campaign that convinced both the public and Canadian government that Canada needed to rescue refugees in the name of common humanity.

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From One British Island to Another: Imperial Federation, Colonial Nationalism, and the Pacific Cable Telegraph, 1879-1902 (2018)

This essay traces the development of Sir Sandford Fleming’s Canadian campaign for the Pacific Cable submarine telegraph line from 1879 to 1902. Fleming envisioned a globe-encircling communications network that supported both Canadian economic and political expansion as well as increased inter-colonial partnership between Canada and the Australasian Colonies. Supporting the project through ideologies of nationalism and imperialism, Fleming maintained a broad public discourse in order to encourage funding for the expensive and unpopular telegraph line. The Pacific Cable’s construction during a period of growing political independence across Britain’s white settlement colonies reveals the institutional legacy of the British imperial system within emerging modes of early twentieth-century national development. Fleming’s criticism of rival corporate telegraph networks highlighted the moral utility of public ownership over Britain’s worldwide ‘all-red route.’ In his twenty-year push for the Pacific Cable, Fleming successfully synthesized a new mode of colonial self-determination based in British imperial kinship and global economic integration, elevating telegraphy into the nervous system of “the new Empire.”

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Middle power continuity: Canada-US relations and Cuba, 1961-1962 (2018)

This thesis examines the work of Canada’s Department of External Affairs and its Undersecretary of State for External Affairs Norman Robertson during tense relations between Canada and the United States in 1961 and 1962. More specifically, this project uses the topic of Cuba in Canada-US relations during the Diefenbaker-Kennedy years as a flash point of how the DEA developed its own Canadian policy strategy that exacerbated tensions between Canada and the United States. This essay argues that the DEA’s policy formation on Cuba during the Kennedy years both reflected a broader continuity in Canadian foreign policy and exacerbated bilateral tensions during a period when tensions have often been blamed primarily on the clash of leaders. The compass guiding Canadian bureaucrats at the DEA when forming policy was often pointed towards Canada’s supposed middle power role within international affairs, a position that long-predated the Diefenbaker years but nevertheless put his government on a collision course with the United States.

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News Releases

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Current Students & Alumni

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