WRAC assistant professor Dr. Steven Fraiberg has been around the world and back pursuing his interests in globalization, high-tech culture, and technical communication. He began his undergraduate career at the University of Michigan, and lived in several different places in the U.S. and abroad before landing back in Michigan as an assistant professor at MSU in 2009.
Dr. Fraiberg earned his master's degree in technical communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He then worked as a technical writer for a range of companies, including the Document Design Center in Washington D.C. From there, he traveled to Israel where he found work in the blossoming high-tech industry. He says, "Israel has more startups than anywhere in the world other than the US. They were looking for writers, they were looking for technical writers, and because it was global they were also looking for English speakers." He spent four years doing technical writing in Israel before returning to the U.S. to begin work on his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.
Dr. Fraiberg's latest research project is focused on Chinese international students. Working with colleagues Dr. Xiaoye (Penn State) and Dr. Xiqiao Wang (MSU), his research explores the students' literacy and connections inside and outside the classroom. By following students' classwork as well as their communication in their professional and personal lives, Dr. Fraiberg and his colleagues gained insights on the ways these students communicate and how they utilize their interpersonal connections. Their work is published in a forthcoming book titled Inventing the World Grant University: Chinese International Students' Mobilities, Literacies, and Identities. "One key finding is the elaborate and extensive networks the students have and the way that they leverage those networks," Dr. Fraiberg explains. "There's a Chinese term, it's called guanxi, a cultural term that means a complex relationship." He points out that many Chinese students first begin to utilize these webs of connections when they create their own businesses both in the U.S. and back home.
Another geographic area of interest to Dr. Fraiberg is Israel. He is especially interested in establishing connections with the high-tech industry in Israel where he once worked. "I'm interested in classrooms and business and high-tech companies in a range of different contexts," he says. He hopes to design a course on global entrepreneurship that "looks at entrepreneurship from a global and cross-cultural context."
Beyond his research, Dr. Fraiberg has also taught a wide array of courses in WRAC, including courses in the first-year writing, professional writing, and graduate programs. He finds the department to be a good fit for both his scholarly and teaching interests. "[In WRAC] there's a real and rich diversity of perspectives in people's understanding of language and culture and the different contexts in which people work," he says. "There's a lot of diversity here within the department itself. As someone who likes to move across borders—linguistic borders, geographic borders, disciplinary borders—I'm quite well aligned."
Written by Jay Hull