Dr. Gwen Shaffer


Gwen Shaffer is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations and Director of Research for the College of Liberal Arts. Her telecommunications policy research examines the complex nature of social exclusion in the informational age. Her current research focuses on the data privacy implications of “smart city” technologies such as surveillance cameras, automated license plate readers and sensors. She is the principal investigator on a National Science Foundation-funded project focused on the City of Long Beach’s vision to use data in ethical ways that avoid reinforcing existing racial biases and discriminatory decision-making.

Shaffer served on the City of Long Beach’s Technology and Innovation Commission—which advises the mayor and City Council on relevant policy and initiatives—from January 2015 until December 2022. (She chaired the Commission from January 2019 until her term ended). In this role, Shaffer contributed to policies involving digital inclusion and equity; the City’s use of surveillance technologies; the City’s open data portal; and Long Beach’s Smart City initiative.

Shaffer designed and teaches JOUR 360/Culture and Politics of the Internet. In this course, students consider the economic, legal and networking aspects of prominent telecommunications policy issues. They engage in critical debate about how to regulate technologies integral to their daily lives.

Shaffer’s research has published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction; the Journal of Information Policy; Media, Culture & Society; First Monday; and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Transactions on Internet Technology, among other journals. The National Science Foundation; the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation; the Media, Inequality & Change Center; and METRANS Transportation Center have funded her research.

Prior to attending graduate school, Shaffer worked as a reporter for more than a dozen years. She covered local politics for the Philadelphia City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly, and was an editorial assistant at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. Her freelance articles have been published in The New Republic, Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, E/The Environmental Magazine, Philadelphia magazine, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications.

Shaffer earned her Ph.D. in mass media and communication from Temple University in Philadelphia. Before joining the faculty at CSULB, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the computer science department at the University of California, Irvine.

Office Location: LA4-206C
Phone: 562-985-5433
Email: gwen.shaffer@csulb.edu