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“I'm trying to get my students to think as deeply as possible about their culture and their communities, especially the Rutgers community.”
Mary's Story
Teaching Professor
School of Communication and Information
Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Professor Chayko's Story

How do selfies “speak” as cultural objects, and how do they compare to other forms of communication and art? How is knowledge produced and shared in the process of communicating through selfies? How are power differentials expressed as selfies are taken, shared and given meaning in a digital culture? These are the questions Professor Chayko asks her 20 first-year students to consider during her five-week, double-session Byrne Seminar.

Though the practice of taking and posting selfies has been dismissed by some as narcissistic, Chayko says it is a powerful tool that allows us to take ownership of our image and share information about ourselves in a way that wasn’t possible before.

“I’ve sent the students out into New Brunswick, the College Avenue Campus, and the Zimmerli to make connections with what we’re learning,” she said. “I’m trying to get them to think as deeply as possible about their culture and their communities, especially the Rutgers community.”

Excerpted from Rutgers Today

More About Professor Chayko

Professor Mary Chayko's story has taken her from three-time Rutgers alum (Ed.M., Counseling Psychology, M.A., Sociology., Ph.D., Sociology) to faculty member in the School of Communication and Information, and affiliate faculty in Rutgers' departments of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies. Chayko directs the Digital Communication, Information, and Media (DCIM) and Gender and Media minors at Rutgers, and has produced and voiced a pair (one, two) of short animated videos about the programs.

Professor Chayko's research is on the impact of digital technology and social media on our communities, societies, and selves. Her research, media appearances, and the music she makes with her band of fellow sociologists can be found on her website. Author of Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life, (Sage) Chayko produced and voiced a series of podcasts to accompany the book's chapter, located on the book's blog.

Known for using social media in her classes in innovative ways, Chayko has been honored as a Rutgers University Faculty of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Contributor to Undergraduate Education. Professor Chayko teaches at the School of Communication and Information, offers Honors Interdisciplinary and Byrne Seminars, and has been named a Faculty Fellow in Residence for the Honors College at Rutgers University.