Amy Jordan, Ph.D – Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Amy Jordan is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and an adjunct full professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, where she teaches courses focused on communication behavior and children and media. Her expertise is in the area of media effects, with a particular interest in health outcomes. She has co-authored and co-edited four books, and she has published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, including Pediatrics, Communication Research, Journal of Family Communication, and Media Psychology.
In your own words, what is a communication major?
Communication at Penn has its own unique character. Our goal is not to teach students how to make media but rather how to understand media by using a critical lens regarding media’s effects and its potential to be both positive and negative in social change. Communication is relevant to everything today – whether it’s climate, government, entertainment, interpersonal relationships, etc. If we’re successful in helping students understand the applications of communication and developing the skills to write, construct, and deconstruct arguments clearly, we will have prepared students to go out in the world and make a difference.
What inspired you to focus on children and the media?
I’ve been studying children and media since the 1970’s, when I was a communication major at Muhlenberg College. One day, I was watching a cartoon – the Smurf’s – and I noticed the stereotypes in the show. Thinking about how children – particularly girls – would react to these stereotypes upset me, and I wrote a paper about the effect of television on children. Then, I became interested in studying children in different contexts (family context, peer context, etc.). It’s been interesting to see the evolution of my own scholarship. When I look back at my early work on parenting in media, I realize that I was was so judgmental – I had no idea what parents were up against until I became a parent myself.
What is your favorite thing about teaching undergraduates?
My favorite thing about teaching undergraduates is what they teach me. Whenever I go into a classroom, I have a fair amount of information that I want to impart, but I recognize that, particularly in the field of media, there are so many ways that students look at issues in unique, insightful, and inspiring ways. Undergraduates inspire me to look at matters in the discipline in different ways.
Do you have any advice for undergraduates who are currently pursuing a major in communication?
My best advice is to make the major reflect what you’re interested in through concentrations, internships, and volunteer work. This is a major in which the experiences that you have are perhaps more important than the grades that you get. It’s important to spend time doing things outside of the class. I’ve stayed in touch with students who have done amazing things in the world, and they’re not always the “A” students – but they made the most of what Penn has to offer and what their summers had to offer. Sometimes we can lose this perspective at a place like Penn.”
What is your favorite spot on Penn's campus?
The Ross Gallery in the Fisher Fine Arts Library building. It’s a hidden gem. They always have amazing exhibitions. Sometimes, if I need a break, I will go into the gallery and I’m usually the only person there. It allows me to get a break from work and absorb the art.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to spend time with my dogs and travel with my husband and children. I have been very privileged to have been able to go to some really cool, exotic places and spend uninterrupted time with my husband and children.
Alison Feather, M.S. Ed – Director of Student Services & Registrar for Undergraduate Studies
Ms. Alison Feather
Alison Feather was born in Erie, PA and spent much of her life in Schippensberg, PA. Allison attended Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA.
In your own words, what is a communication major?
There isn’t one definition of a communication major. I would say a student majoring in communication is an intellectually curious student who is interested in the world around them and desires to understand that world through the lens of communication.
What inspired you to pursue a study in communication?
I enjoy being in this field because I think it is an exciting time with many developments in media occurring. I think the field is undergoing changes with how society communicates with one another.
Do you have any advice for undergraduates who are currently considering pursuing a major in Communication?
Explore the different opportunities that are offered to Communication majors. I would also talk to upperclassman and make sure that Communications is a good fit for you.
What is your favorite food truck at Penn?
I usually actually pack my lunch so I do not get to eat at the food trucks to frequently.
Do you have any hobbies?
Recently I have been spending a lot of my time, when I can, trying out new recipes with my crock-pot!