Nicholas Cheng, a 2017 Daniel Pearl Fellow from Malaysia, has been awarded a Chevening Scholarship and accepted into the London School of Economics, where he intends to earn a master’s degree in Conflict Studies.
The Chevening Scholarship, aimed at developing global leaders, is given by the British Foreign Commonwealth office and provides full funding, plus a stipend, for recipients to earn a one-year master’s degree at any university in the United Kingdom. The degree program begins Sept. 18, a week after the Alfred Friendly Fellowship program ends.
Cheng’s degree in Conflict Studies will include coursework on terrorism, civil war, radicalization and the role the media plays in conflicts.
Forty Malaysians are awarded a Chevening Scholarship every year, and journalists rarely get one, Cheng said. The last time a journalist from his newspaper, The Star, received a Chevening was in 2010.
“This is a golden opportunity to continue my growth and learning as a journalist,” Cheng said.
Malaysia experienced its first Islamic State attack last year, a grenade explosion in a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur, and authorities say more than 235 Malaysians have joined IS in Syria and Iraq.
In his pitch to the Chevening board, Cheng wrote that the media has an important role to play in deradicalization and not contributing to the divisiveness in Malaysia. “That is easier said than done when reporters do not have a wealth of knowledge about the complexities of terrorism, which involves race, religion, culture, politics and the economy,” Cheng wrote. “Malaysian reporters rely heavily on the police, which doesn’t present much diversity and balance in news reports.”
During the course, Cheng’s objective will be to learn how to produce better articles related to terrorism, and share that knowledge with journalism colleagues in Malaysia.