Based at the University of Southern California, Henry Jenkins's Civic Paths Group explores continuities between online participatory culture and civic engagement through outreach, creative work, research, and academic inquiry. Civic Paths’s previous efforts resulted in the NYU Press book, By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism and the byanymedia.org online resource for educators. By Any Media Necessary identified tactics and strategies by which networks of youth are able to expand civic participation via the practices and infrastructure of participatory culture. These networks also place an emphasis on personal and collective storytelling, often through grassroots media production and circulation, as well as on the deployment of content worlds, often drawn from popular culture.The Civic Imagination Project is a Civic Paths Initiative.
Provost's Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts & Education
Sangita Shresthova Phd
Director of Research and Programs
Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California. He joined USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. Jenkins directed MIT’s Comparative Media Studies graduate degree program from 1993-2009, setting an innovative research agenda during a time of fundamental change in communication, journalism and entertainment.
Jenkins has also played a central role in demonstrating the importance of new media technologies in educational settings. He has worked closely with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to shape a media literacy program designed to explore the effects of participatory media on young people, and reveal potential new pathways for education through emerging digital media.
He is principal investigator on the Media Activism Participatory Politics project. Jenkins’ most recent books include Participatory Culture in a Networked Society (with danah boyd and Mimi Ito) and By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (with Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, and Arley Zimmerman). He is currently finishing a book on contemporary graphic novels. He blogs twice a week at henryjenkins.org.
Gabriel Peters-Lazaro researches, designs and produces digital media for innovative learning. He is a member of the MacArthur Foundation's Media Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project and is currently working to develop participatory media resources and curricula to support new forms of civic education and engagement for young people. Through the Hypercinemas Research Group he investigates the continuities between emerging technologies of representation and the earliest experiments of cinema in order to transcend spectacle and achieve a material understanding of current tools and how they can support a critically engaged cinematic practice. He helped create The Junior AV Club, an action research project that explored mindful media making and sharing as powerful practices of early childhood learning. As a member of the advisory board of LA Makerspace he helps to bring innovative learning explorations to youth in Los Angeles through the public library system. As a producer and cinematographer he is currently in post-production on a feature length documentary on assisted reproductive technologies (ART). He teaches courses for undergraduate and graduate students dealing with critical media making and theory. He received his B.A. in Film Studies from UC Berkeley, completed his M.F.A in Film Directing and Production at UCLA and is a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts + Practice.
Andrea's interests lie in the intersection of Science and Technology Studies and Cultural Studies. She is particularly interested in studying the appropriation of social media platforms in developing countries as gateways to the web, and transnational, online labor cultures. She received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Microsoft Research's Social Media Collective. Before academia, she worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America.
Sangita Shresthova is the Director of Research of the Civic Paths Group based at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on intersections among online learning, popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She is also one of the authors of Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Change (NYU Press, 2020) and of Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook (Peter Lang, 2020).
Her earlier book on Bollywood (Is It All About Hips?) was published in 2011 by Sage. She is one of the creators of the Digital Civics Toolkit (digitalcivicstoolkit.org), a collection of resources for educators, teachers and community leaders to support youth learning. Her own creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), and the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC). She enjoys engaging with diverse communities through her workshops, lectures and projects.
Yomna Elsayed is a Part-time Lecturer of Communication at the University of Southern California online communication management program. She earned a PhD in communication from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. Her research examines the role of popular culture and technology in advancing cultural and social change in the US and the MENA region
Raffi Sarkissian is is a Media Studies lecturer in Communication Studies at Christopher Newport University. He earned his PhD from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. His research analyzes LGBTQ representation in popular culture and digital video activism, queer film festivals, and the politics of award shows. He has published articles in Spectator journal and an edited volume on Queer Youth Media Cultures.
Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Soledad Altrudi earned her B.A. in International Relations at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires. She has also completed graduate studies in Political Science and Sociology at FLACSO, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, and earned a Masters of Public Diplomacy at USC. She has worked at USC's Center on Communication Leadership and Policy as a Geoffrey Cowan endowed research scholar, and is also a founding organizer of Annenberg's Communication and Cultural Studies graduate student conference, Critical Mediations. Her research interests lie at the intersection between science and technology studies, and cultural studies, and focus on exploring the various effects that technological artifacts have on our everyday lives.
Thomas J. Billard
Thomas J Billard (aka TJ) graduated magna cum laude from the George Washington University with an honors BA in political communication. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Annenberg and his research has been published in the International Journal of Communication, Mass Communication and Society, Frontiers in Psychology, Archives of Sexual Behavior, and Marketing Theory, as well as in several edited volumes.
TJ's research has two focuses. His first area of research is transgender politics, with an emphasis on the relationship between media and the transgender community and on the strategic communications of the transgender rights movement. His second area of research is on political branding and graphic design, with an emphasis on the networking of political brand communities and citizens' creation of political branding materials.
Brooklyne Gipson is a doctoral student at USC Annenberg. Her research interests center on the intersections of race and digital technology. Specifically, she interrogates the utility of social media and other digital tools in facilitating grassroots organization and civic engagement amongst traditionally marginalized groups.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a concentration in Afro-American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She later earned an M.A.S. in American Media and Popular Culture from Arizona State University and an M.S. in Digital Social Media from the University of Southern California. Previous work includes positions as content producer, editor and blogger for publications such as The New York Post, XXL magazine, Complex magazine and BET.com.
Jocelyn Areté Kelvin
Jocelyn Areté Kelvin is an immersive avant-pop artist and assistant to Henry Jenkins. She is currently composing an intermedia concept album and producing immersive events as Areté. Her past work includes her first feature as director and producer, Your Friends Close, which premiered at the United Film Festival and is currently streaming on Amazon, Vimeo and YouTube. NYC-born and LA-based, she graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Creative Writing, Poetry. In Chicago, she collaborated with dance companies Lucky Plush and the Moving Architects to direct site-specific dance films, and performed in theatres including Victory Gardens, Lookingglass, Strawdog, and Red Orchid.
Paulina is a PhD Student in Communication at USC. She identifies in buildings and in urban places a source of memoirs and nostalgia. Cities have led her to research in a convergence among culture and media studies at the hand of film. The theoretical immersion to space and cultural studies through an aesthetic perspective has been a stimulus for developing an interdisciplinary commitment from former disciplines to present endeavor. The object takes on a new meaning while researching buildings as media, an emerging mechanism to focus storytelling through spatial remembrance, as a blueprint-incepted testimony. Paulina is a member of the Civic Paths group and involved in research in the Skid Row and Homeless Connectivity Project, and the Mobile Devices Global Mapping Project. She is a founding member and organizer of Critical Mediations, a Communication and Cultural Studies Conference.
Lauren Levitt holds a BA in Comparative Literature from King's College London, where she wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the theme of pederasty in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice and Jean Genet's Querelle of Brest, and an MA in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University, where she wrote her master's thesis on the aesthetics of camp in 1960s science fiction television. Lauren is completing a graduate certificate in Gender Studies at USC, and she is interested in the relationship between culture and politics, broadly defined, particularly in relation to gender and sexuality. Her article "Reality Realness: Paris Is Burning and RuPaul's Drag Race" was published in Interventions Journal, the online journal of Columbia University's Graduate Program in Modern Art, and her essay "Batman and the Aesthetics of Camp" was published in the anthology Sontag and the Camp Aesthetics: Advancing New Perspectives. Lauren is a member of the Civic Paths research group at USC, and her chapter "Hunger Games and the Dystopian Imagination" is forthcoming in an anthology on the civic imagination from NYU Press. For her dissertation project, Lauren is conducting ethnographic research on sex workers' support networks in Los Angeles and New York City.
Do Own Kim
Do Own (Donna) Kim is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, and a Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS) fellow.
Donna's research focuses on new media culture. She is particularly interested in negotiations between agency and structural forces within and across various "real" and mediated spaces. She looks at practices, design, and sociocultural contexts through both social scientific and humanistic approaches to understand the impact and implications of new media technologies. Mixed theoretical and methodological approaches fascinate Donna; it is her goal to draw out conversations between them in her work. She is currently affiliated with the Civic Paths and MASTS (Media as Sociotechnical Systems) research groups.
Prior to joining Annenberg, Donna received her B.A. degrees in Media & Communication and English Language & Literature from Korea University in 2015. She has lived in five different countries including South Korea, China, Canada, the U.S., and Japan, where she studied at Nagoya University for a year as an exchange student in 2013-14. Donna believes her cross-cultural experiences and her media planning internship at Cheil Worldwide sparked her interest in new media culture.
a content strategist, writer, and qualitative researcher passionate about storytelling for social change. For 15 years, she has transformed complex ideas about education, culture, and society into engaging and accessible forms for diverse audiences, motivating people to keep learning, connecting, and participating in our world. Diana currently leads collaborative efforts to design and produce dynamic learning experiences for digital and web-based educational resources. Through her work, she supports learners in a variety of contexts by crafting clear, compassionate messaging about topics like interest-based learning; media literacy and civic engagement; education and technology; society, arts, and culture; STEAM career pathways; health and wellness; and social and emotional learning. As a researcher, she has also worked on numerous interdisciplinary and mixed-methods projects harnessing the power of personal and collective storytelling to improve educational quality, equity, and access for people of all backgrounds. Diana holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley, masters degrees from Harvard University (in Education) and NYU (in Media, Culture, and Communication), and a Ph.D. in Communication from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Azeb Madebo earned her B.A. in Communication and minored in Anthropology and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. As a Ronald E. McNair and Mary Gates Research Scholar, she examined negotiations of Blackness by considering the experiences of East African (specifically Ethiopian) immigrant communities in Seattle. At USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, her research interests and work have centered sub-Saharan Africa, issues regarding development, and civic engagement. She's worked on projects that look at transnational/transracial adoption and surrogacy and the racialized commodification of bodies; the racialization and identity negotiations of East African immigrants in the United States; civic imagination and networked mobilization in Ethiopia and its diaspora; and the relationships between discourses of sustainable development and techno-political governance in sub Saharan Africa.
Rogelio Alejandro Lopez is a doctoral candidate (ABD), activist, and media maker working at the intersection of social movements, civic media, and youth culture. Prior to USC, Rogelio completed his M.S. in Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he researched media activism, youth media production, and collaborative design at the MIT Media Lab's Center for Civic Media. Currently, Rogelio works with USC's Civic Paths research group, where his focus is participatory politics and civic media among youth of color in the US and in Latin America. His recent projects include designing technologies for social change, data science and computational approaches for digital activism research, and a historical overview of the civic imagination among Chicana/o youth activists. For his dissertation, Rogelio looks into the role of media production in the construction of civic and radical imaginaries by contemporary networked social movements. Rogelio's technical skill set includes video production, photojournalism, graphic design, collaborative design, and programming in Python.
Rachel received a BA Hons (Cantab) in Social and Political Science atSelwyn College, Cambridge University where she focused on political engagement and networks. She then went on to studyPolitical Communications at Goldsmiths College, University of London gaining top honors for her thesis on media indexing in the reporting of the 2012 Benghazi attacks. After graduating she worked as a political researcher in a parliamentary monitoring firm in London where she researched infrastructure and environmental policy. Rachel's research focuses on political communications particularly the links between communications platforms and socio-political engagement and the rise of professionalization and marketization in politics. Her research interests encompass elements of traditional political theory, sociology and communications theory looking at how particular forces - namely institutional, structural, technological and economic - interact with communications platforms and impact public conversation.
joan miller is a rising fourth year student who focuses primarily on empathy as communication. joan approaches her work through an interdisciplinary lens that incorporates perspectives from her previous education; a BA in Theatre Arts from Kalamazoo College, MFA in Dramatic Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and an MA in Performance Studies from NYU Tisch. Her dissertation will focus on teaching empathy and emotional regulation to college undergraduates through interventions inspired by fandom, games, and the human-animal bond.
joan's work at the intersection of fandom and critical cultural studies will be published as book chapters in two forthcoming books; a chapter on the affective components of #Gamergate, in the Civic Imagination casebook (title tbd) with advisor Henry Jenkins and the Civic Paths research group (e. early 2019) and a chapter based on her MA thesis, "Raceplay: cross-racial cosplay as political speech" in a collection on race and fandom edited by Rukmini Pande (release date tbd). Currently joan's work includes an ongoing collaboration with the Office for Wellness and Health Promotion as both a Wellness Advocate and a voluntary research assistant analyzing the impact of the campus facility dog, Beauregard Tirebiter, and the Pause for Paws visiting therapy dog program.
Tyler's work is primarily concerned with the creation of affective publics through activism, art, and literature. He uses qualitative methods to understand how art and discourse produce what Raymond Williams referred to as "structures of feeling." Current projects he is working on are concerned with as diverse topics as public homoeroticism, vaporwave, and radical leftwing activism.
A second year student, Tyler's work has been accepted for presentation at conferences such as the International Communication Association. He is an alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder, where he graduated magna cum laude while simultaneously serving as an Executive of one of the country's largest student unions. He later received an M.A. from the University of Chicago, where he wrote a thesis examining self-expression and identitarian politics on Tumblr. Prior to his doctoral studies, Tyler worked on political campaigns for nearly a decade.
Paromita is a 4th year doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California. Her research is situated at the intersection of participatory politics, digital media, and humor, and she is especially interested in the way in which online counterpublics use discursive activism to create new toolkits of resistance.
Emilia Yang is an activist, artist, and militant researcher. Yang is currently a Ph.D. student in Media Arts + Practice in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Her work has been interconnected with digital communications, performance, and public art. Her research focuses on participatory culture and its relationship to media, arts, and design. She is interested in transmedia storytelling framed through the question of how it can foster social change and civic engagement. Her art practice utilizes site-specific interactive installations, interactive documentaries, performance, and urban interventions, all of which explore social justice issues in participatory ways. Emilia completed an M.A in Communications at Penn State University. Her Master’s project researched the first social media protest to make it to the streets in her home country Nicaragua. She developed a participatory transmedia storytelling hub in a site called ocupainss.org with the objective to present the maximum number of stories and violations of human rights around this protest.
Sulafa Zidani is a doctoral student at USC Annenberg. She researches new media, participatory culture, and digital language and power dynamics, with special interest in China and the Arab World.
Sulafa is a speaker of English, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandarin, and French. She is a founding organizer of Annenberg's communication and cultural studies graduate student conference, Critical Mediations. Prior to joining Annenberg, she worked as a teacher, research assistant, and translator in Palestine, Israel, China, and the US.
She earned her BA and MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Asia Studies and Communication and Journalism. Her MA thesis investigated the complex relationship between political power and new media by focusing on the use of counter-power expressions born in the online resistance discourse on the Chinese microblogging website Weibo. She has also studied Arabic forms of digital creativity through a collaborative analysis of "Gangnam Style" remakes as identity practice.
Through her research, Sulafa seeks to uncover the deeper meanings, values, and ideologies behind digital participation and expression.