Susannah Stern, PhD

Susannah Stern
Phone: (619) 260-7814
Fax: (619) 260-4205
Office: Camino Hall 126A

Professor, Communication Studies

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mass Communication
  • M.A., University of Washington, Communication
  • B.S., Northwestern University, Communication Studies

Susannah Stern, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego, and affiliated faculty with the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.   Her expertise spans the field of mass communication, with grounding in media processes and effects and critical media studies.

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 digital technologies. Her work draws attention to the cultural consumption, self-expression, and identity work that accompany young people’s digital participation. 

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.  

Stern also 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. 

In addition to her classroom teaching, 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.   Stern also serves as the Faculty Integration Coordinator for the Inspire Transfer Learning Community, as a member of the University Faculty Senate, and on the Dean’s Advisory Council on Faculty Advising, among other service roles.

Scholarly Work

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 social media practices of teenagers in military families.  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.

Areas of Interest

Youth and identity; media representations; digital media practices; popular culture; media uses and effects; children & teens; gender.