Susannah Stern is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego, and she currently serves as the Director of USD’s Honors Program. She is also affiliated faculty with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
Stern’s particular research interests lie at the intersections of youth, media, culture and identity. She is centrally concerned with the complex and dynamic relationships young people share with electronic and digital technologies. Her work draws attention to the cultural consumption, self-expression, and identity work that accompany young people’s digital participation.
Stern’s scholarly research encompasses a range of projects investigating youth’s digital media practices and their representations in the media. Her current projects include an exploration of how teenagers manage their digital visibility, as well as an inquiry into the representations of youth that circulate across American media. Stern’s work has appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed journals including The Journal of Children and Media, the Journal of Advertising, and The Journal of Health Communication, as well as numerous edited collections. Stern has presented her research and offered lectures and workshops regarding children, adolescents and media at an array of professional, non-profit, university, and pre-K-12 meetings and conferences.
Stern offers a variety of courses that investigate the role of media in contemporary life, media processes and effects, research methods (both qualitative and quantitative), and children and media. Additionally, Dr. Stern has developed two unique courses that grow out of her research interests and expertise. The Digital Self is a class designed to engage students in deep exploration of how digital technologies play a role in our sense of self, how we interact, and how we are treated, traced, and co-constructed in digital spaces. The course Teenagers and Popular Media invites students to examine the various institutional, economic and relational entities that play a role in teens’ media experiences and to engage in informed deliberations about teens’ use of media and media effects on teens.
As Director of the USD Honors Program, Stern oversees operations, admissions, staff, strategic vision, faculty instruction, and classes for a program serving approximately 450 undergraduate honors students. She also teaches the Honors Thesis Seminar to students across more than 20 disciplines.
Stern has mentored dozens of undergraduate communication researchers at USD. In 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, which recognizes a senior scholar who brings respect and excellence to the practice of mentoring undergraduates in research and scholarly activities.