Communication & Development Studies
Featured Faculty Part1

November 2008

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Fascinated by modern technologies and their impacts on human society, Dr. Flournoy stands in front of the space shuttle wall paper he put up in 1984 in his office at the School of Media Arts and Studies.

Forever Young: An Interview with Dr. Don Flournoy

by Yu Liang

At age of 71, Don Flournoy is as vibrant as a young man, full of enthusiasm in his pursuit of life, both as a professor and a veteran farmer.

One proof of Prof. Flournoy’s achievements is his 27-page CV, which contains an impressive listing of the research, writing and scholarly activities he has been devoted to over the past decades, yet such a CV is, according to Dr. Flournoy, merely the “short version.”

As an internationally reputed scholar in the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the solution of human problems, Dr. Flournoy’s interests are wide ranging. They include teaching, research and publication in the areas of international media development, broadband communication, advanced digital networks, satellite communication, space platforms, intelligent communities, international newsgathering and distribution, television production, and innovations in teaching. During his years here at OU, he has been advisor and thesis/dissertation chair to a long line of graduate students.

The latest highlight in his track record is a new book entitled Networked Communities: Strategies for Digital Collaboration, Hershey PA, IGI Global, 2009, 328 pp. Set within the conceptual frame of Network Society, the book draws lessons from several years of comparative data based on the annual competition for the “Intelligent Community of the Year” awards hosted by the Intelligent Community Forum of New York (www.intelligentcommunity.org), according to Dr. Flournoy. This will be his eighth book.

Also, Prof. Flournoy edits the Online Journal of Space Communication, an ambitious publishing project initiated in 2003 under sponsorship of the Society of Satellite Professionals (www.sspi.org), the professional development association of the satellite and space industry. This journal (www.spacejournal.org) is “a cross-disciplinary scholarly publication designed to advance space communication as a profession and as an academic discipline.” As editor, Dr. Flournoy is responsible for identifying timely topics, recruiting guest editors and peer reviewers, maintaining journal integrity and editorial control and finding sources of funding.


It is hard to imagine that such a wide span of achievements started from a rural Texas background where his family ran a cotton gin; it’s also hard to imagine that his undergraduate major was theatre and that he holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, a stark contrast to his seemingly technology-oriented academic activities later on.

Yet to Dr. Flournoy, it is no surprise at all. “All things are integrated through a single person’s life. At every new opportunity, you have to prepare yourself all over again by being a life-long learner,” he said. “In my family there were four boys, and we all automatically assumed we could do anything we set our minds to – although in reality we couldn’t.”

Featured Faculty Continues