Prior to her position at CSULB, Gwen was a postdoctoral researcher in the computer science department at University of California, Irvine. There, she worked on several studies examining how to best incorporate telecommunications policy and economic realities into the Internet architecture. Specifically, the research considered telecommunications company mergers, expanding the application of open internet principles, and wireless device attachment.
Gwen earned a PhD in Mass Media & Communication from Temple University in Philadelphia in 2009. Her dissertation examined the potential for peer-to-peer networking to help bridge the digital divide in the United States. This multi-disciplinary study was grounded in social movement, civic engagement and political economy theories, and was selected by the National Science Foundation for a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. More recently, Gwen co-authored a study concluding that universal broadband access and computer literacy alone will not close the digital divide. The article, published in the Journal of Information Policy, proposes a Digital Human Capital framework—which takes into account the complex nature of social exclusion in the informational age. In 2013, Media, Culture & Society published a study Gwen co-authored. This study examines the Federal Communication Commission’s historical use of “voluntary commitments” when approving telecommunications company mergers.
Gwen recently conducted a study that applies critical discourse analysis to examine how language influences digital technology policies. Specifically, she examined how lawmakers and major phone providers symbolically associated widely supported ideas—including net neutrality, job creation, technological innovation and consumer protection—with deregulation of telecommunications services. Her current research project examines the potential for a free WiFi network in East Hollywood to boost civic engagement in the community.
While pursuing her PhD, Gwen taught courses at both Temple and Drexel universities in news writing, feature writing, freelance reporting, communication theory, public speaking and public policy.
Prior to attending graduate school, Gwen worked as a reporter for more than a dozen years. As a senior writer for the Philadelphia City Paperfrom 1998 to 2001, she filed investigative news features, as well as wrote a weekly column on City Council and local politics. Later, she worked as a staff writer for Philadelphia Weekly, where her cover stories tackled complex policy trends such as the city’s widening wealth disparity and zoning code reform. Gwen’s freelance articles have been published in The New Republic, Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, E/The Environmental Magazine, Philadelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Business Journal, and Arrive magazine, among other publications. Previously, Gwen also held several editorial positions at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.
- Shaffer, G. (2014). Book review: Blog Theory by Jodi Dean. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 58(1).
- Jordan, S. and Shaffer, G. (2013). User and ISP rights of device attachment and device management. Association for Computing Machinery’s Transactions on Internet Technology, 13(2), Article 6 (December 2013).
- Shaffer, G. and Jordan, S. (2013). Testing current telecommunications practices against user and provider rights. Journal of Information Policy, 3, 355-379.
- Bach, A., Shaffer, G., and Wolfson, T. (2013). Digital human capital: Developing a framework for understanding the economic impact of digital exclusion in low-income communities. Journal of Information Policy, 3, 247-266.
- Shaffer, G. and Jordan, S. (2013). Classic conditioning: The use of merger conditions to advance policy goals. Media, Culture & Society 35(3), 392-403.
- Forlano, L., Powell, A., & Shaffer, G. (2011). From the digital divide to digital excellence: Global best practices for community wireless networks.New America Foundation white paper (funding provided by the Social Science Research Council).
- Jordan, S. and Shaffer, G. (2011). A Proposed Device Attachment Statute for Converged Networks. Journal of Information Policy, 1, 394-424.
- Shaffer, G. (2011). Banding together for bandwidth: An analysis of survey results from wireless community network participants. First Monday, 16(5).
- Shaffer, G. (2011). Peering Ahead: An examination of peer-to-peer signal sharing communities seeking affordable and reliable internet access. Canadian Journal of Communication, 36(1).
- Fernback, J., & Shaffer, G. (2010). Urban planning unplugged: How mobile technology is influencing design elements in seven major U.S. cities. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 27(1), Article 35.
- Shaffer, G. (2007). Frame up: An analysis of arguments for and against municipal wireless initiatives. Public Works Management & Policy, 11(3), 204-216.
Chapters in Edited Books
- Shaffer, G. (February 2013). Lessons learned from grassroots wireless networks in Europe. In Social and economic effects of community wireless networks and infrastructures (p. 236-254), edited by N. Abdelaal. IGI Global Publishing.
- Shaffer, G. (2011). Civility or censorship? An examination of the reaction to a proposed code of conduct for bloggers. In Blogging in the Global Society (p. 72-89), edited by T. Dumova and R. Fiordo Hershey, PA: IGI Global Publishing.
Office Location: LA4-206C
Office Hours: Mondays, 1-4 p.m., and by appointment
JOUR 430 – LAW OF MASS COMMUNICATIONS – TuTh – 11-12:15PM – LA4-105
JOUR 495 – SENIOR SEMINAR – MW – 11-12:15PM – SPA-206
For syllabi for these and all Department of Journalism & Mass Communication classes, click here.