About Us

Henry Jenkins (Principal Investigator) - Henry Jenkins joins USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. He 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.

As one of the first media scholars to chart the changing role of the audience in an environment of increasingly pervasive digital content, Jenkins has been at the forefront of understanding the effects of participatory media on society, politics and culture. His research gives key insights to the success of social-networking Web sites, networked computer games, online fan communities and other advocacy organizations, and emerging news media outlets.

Jenkins has also played a central role in demonstrating the importance of new media technologies in educational settings. At MIT, he led a consortium of educators and business leaders promoting the educational benefits of computer games, and oversaw a research group working to help teach 21st century literacy skills to high school students through documentary videos. He also 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.

Sangita Shresthova  -  Sangita is a Czech/Nepali international development specialist, filmmaker, media scholar, and dancer. She currently manages Henry Jenkins new project on participatory culture and civic engagement. Sangita holds a Ph.D. from UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures and wrote her dissertation on the globalization of Bollywood dance. Mirroring the international distribution of commercial Hindi films, Bollywood dance as live performance is fast becoming a global phenomenon with specialized dance schools in many urban centers. Driven by enthusiastic audiences eager to learn dances they have seen in films, Bollywood dance has now emerged as a recognized movement category. With user generated video portals like YouTube, the popularity of Bollywood dances and their complex juxtapositions of film and performance take on new virtual dimension. Her  scholarly writing and has been published in several journals, including the Dance Research Journal. Sangita's work on Bollywood dance will soon be released as a book.

Anna van Someren  - Anna’s background combines community work, youth work, education and new media production. Working with Henry Jenkins, Provost Professor at the University of Southern California and former Principal Investigator at the Center for Future Civic Media, Anna will conduct research on the ways in which participatory culture environments support the kinds of social deliberation, debate, and advocacy practices that allow entry into a shared public discourse. Most recently, Anna worked as Creative Manager for project New Media Literacies (NML) at MIT's Comparative Media Studies (CMS). She led the production and development of innovative educational materials informed by a deep understanding of the ways youth interact with and produce media. Prior to working at MIT, Anna developed new media curriculum and taught multimedia production at after school programs and at the college level. An independent video artist, Anna has shown her experimental shorts in festivals internationally. She received her B.A. magna cum laude in Art & Art History from Colgate University, and her MFA in Film & Video from Massachusetts College of Art.

Clement Chau - 
Clement is a child development specialist with a focus on the role of new media and new technologies on young people. He is currently completing his doctoral work in the Developmental Technologies research group at Tufts University. His recent work has focused on the use of virtual communities for learning and early robotics and early programming for young children. Clement previously with Henry Jenkins at MIT as a research specialist in Project New Media Literacies and is now participating in this new project examining the ways in which participatory cultures can support civic engagement. Clement received his BA in Music and Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and his MA in Applied Child Development at Tufts University.

Graduate Students

Melissa Brough
Melissa Brough is a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She previously worked in documentary film production and for FilmAid International, a non-profit organization that uses film and video to promote health and strengthen communities. As Program Officer she supported video-based, psychosocial and educational programs as well as participatory video projects with displaced communities in East Africa, and youth media projects in the Gulf Coast of the U.S.  She has collaborated with local and international community media projects including Mobile Voices (http://vozmob.net/), Listen Up! (www.listenup.org) and the Chiapas Media Project (www.chiapasmediaproject.org). Her current research interests include participatory media practices for social change, and new media and social movements. She received her B.A. in Development Studies and Modern Culture & Media from Brown University.

Kevin Driscoll
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

M. Flourish Klink
MIT Comparative Media Studies

Lori Kido Lopez
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Joshua McVeigh-Schultz 
USC School of Cinematic Arts

Ritesh Mehta
Ritesh is on the verge of completing his first year as a PhD student at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He's interested in how audiences, especially fans, consume 'paratexts', which are traditionally conceived of "thresholds of entry" (Genette, 1991) into the text (e.g., trailers and DVD bonus materials in the case of films, book covers and author signings in the case of books). In context of the research group, he's interested in the way civic engagement is a paratext that can be prior to, post, or even bereft of interaction with the text, and how in this way paratext has a direct correlation with larger cultural values and idiosyncratic individual values. Like the endless hallway effect created by parallel mirrors, he thinks that civic engagement can validly and valiantly be a response to a response, where even those farthest removed are often relevantly and powerfully engaged. Ritesh received his B. Sc. in Marketing and Management from the University of Pennsylvania, has worked as a copywriter and a jewelry brand manager, was for a while fascinated by long-term potentiation in the brain, and most recently, obtained a Masters in Philosophy from UMSL, where he learned of his penchant for properties and particulars.

Lana Schwartz
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Benjamin Stokes
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Chris Tokuhama

Chris Tokuhama is a Master's student in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in addition to working full-time in the Office of College Admission. Chris's work with teen populations has caused him to focus on the intersection of popular culture, media/technology, youth, and narrative structures. Chris developed his current research interests as a former volunteer for Planned Parenthood where he wrote a weekly blog exploring the connections between teen sexual health, behavior, cognition, and media influences. Chris comes to the group with a strong desire to further understand how short form narrative and embedded structures shape cultural and individual identities. Chris received his BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California but was always a social psychologist at heart.

Ray Vichot
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

Neta Kligler Vilenchik 
USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism