Karen Sternheimer is an Associate Professor (teaching) of Sociology, where she also earned her Ph.D. in 1998. She also holds an MA in psychology from Pepperdine University and a BFA in drama from New York University. Within the sociology department, she teaches a wide variety of courses on social problems, social inequality, childhood, delinquency, and deviance. Her research focuses on issues related to popular culture and youth, most centrally on fears surrounding the two. Her current research examines moral panics about popular culture during the twentieth century.
She recently completed a comparative historical study of American celebrity culture, detailed in her book Celebrity Culture and the American Dream: Stardom and Social Mobility (Routledge, 2011) and at http://celebritycultureandtheamericandream.wordpress.com/.
Sternheimer is also the author of Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media is not the Answer (Westview Press, 2009), Kids These Days: Facts and Fictions About Today’s Youth (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006) and It’s Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture’s Influence on Children (Westview Press, 2003). She is the editor of Childhood in American Society: A Course Reader (Allyn & Bacon, 2009) and The Everyday Sociology Reader (W.W. Norton, 2010). She is also the lead writer and editor of everydaysociologyblog.com.
For Sternheimer, research and teaching can never be completely separate. She has included dozens of undergraduate students in her research for the past several years, providing them with an up-close and hands-on experience of the research process. Likewise, teaching does not end when the semester does. She continues to mentor students long after they have left her classes, and even some that never took them. As editor and lead writer for www.everydaysociologyblog.com, an interactive website designed for undergraduate students and a general audience, her work reaches students working on assignments for classes in colleges and universities worldwide.
As a public sociologist, she believes that her role as an educator extends beyond those enrolled as students, but the public at large. To this end, she has written op-ed articles in the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and the San Jose Mercury News and provided commentary on CNN, MSNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, The History Channel, Fox News and numerous radio programs.
She is humbled and honored to have been selected as a CET fellow. She plans on using this opportunity to assist faculty members in a wide variety of disciplines to bring aspects of daily life and active learning activities into their classrooms, a primary way to engage students and nurture an ongoing love of learning. While using non-traditional methods can help illuminate course concepts, sometimes traditional modes of evaluation can impede student learning. She hopes to help both faculty and teaching assistants evaluate students’ work and provide feedback that help students build on their strengths and remedy their weaknesses, as well as help improve the interactions between faculty, teaching assistants, and students.