The Center for Political Research

The mission of the Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications is to serve as an active academic and public center for the study and promotion of civil political discourse. We seek to inspire constructive debate and encourage positive civic engagement for both students and the public alike.

Meet our Researchers

Dr. Stephanie Slocum-Schaffer

Dr. Stephanie A. Slocum-Schaffer is the Stubblefield Institute Senior Fellow, Research, Retention and Recruitment, and Faculty Liaison and Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Coordinator of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at Shepherd University, where she teaches a variety of courses in American politics, women in politics, research methods, and public policy. She has also taught at Gettysburg College and The American University.

Dr. Slocum-Schaffer received a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, in International Affairs and Spanish from Bucknell University, where she was elected to the honor society of Phi Beta Kappa. She was awarded a Ph.D. in Political Science from The American University after completing a dissertation entitled: “Choose or Lose? The Impact of Choice on Quality and Efficiency in American Public Education.” In 2003, she published a book, America in the Seventies: A Lesson In Limits, with Syracuse University Press. She also has published several articles and has made numerous presentations at conferences.

Dr. Matthew Kushin

Matthew J. Kushin, Ph.D. (@mjkushin) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Shepherd University. He’s an award-winning educator and scholar. At Shepherd University, he developed, launched, and is the coordinator of the Strategic Communication concentration, which focuses on the intersection of public relations and social media. He has a combined 14 years of university-level teaching experience and has taught undergraduate courses in Social Media, Politics & Social Media, Public Relations Principles, Persuasion and Message Design, Strategic Campaigns, Communication Theories, Communication Research Methods, Applied Communication Research, Communication & New Media, Writing Across Platforms, Introduction to Mass Communication, Public Speaking, New Communication Technology.

Kushin’s research program focuses on the political and civic utility of online media, including social media, online news, and messaging apps. He has also conducted research in social media pedagogy. His work has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as Mass Communication & Society, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, New Media & Society, the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, and the Journal of Public Relations Education.

A leading voice in social media education, Kushin is the author of Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love and also writes Social Media Syllabus (, a popular blog and resource for social media educators.