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Contact, Writings and Research Interests
John W. Higgins

Department of Media Studies
University of San Francisco
San Francisco  California  USA

Email:  jhiggins [at] mediaprof [dot] org


John W. Higgins has been associated with commercial and non-commercial media for over three decades. His experience includes work in production, management, performance and research; he has served on governing boards for community-based cable television and broadcast radio organizations. The author of several articles exploring community-based media, Higgins has served as a member and president of the board of directors of the San Francisco Community Television Corporation, the non-profit organization managing the city’s and county’s public access cable television facilities and channel from 1999 to 2009. He has been active in U.S. and international organizations practicing, promoting, and studying community-based media.

Dr. Higgins is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. He has developed media facilities and educational programs and taught at colleges and universities in the U.S. and overseas. A former associate professor in communication and media at Menlo College in Atherton, California, he holds a Ph.D. in Communication, an M.A. in Telecommunications, and a B.A. in Communication Arts.

Dr. Higgins’ areas of expertise include community-based media; multi-media production; advanced media technologies and social networking; critical pedagogies; and storytelling and oral history as art and social science.

Another of Higgins’s long-standing interests is storytelling and puppetry. As the creator and director of “Night Vision Puppets” he performed internationally utilizing a one-man, “street theater” approach to performance from 1974 to 2001. In the late 1970s the troupe appeared regularly on local children’s and late night television programs. For three decades the troupe conducted workshops and performed at art museums, universities, and outdoor festivals, including a 1995 performance at the United Nations' 50th anniversary celebration in Nicosia, Cyprus. The last performance was in 2010 in Nicosia, Cyprus, at the Fulbright Center in the UN Buffer Zone, with a show for a bicommunal audience in English, Turkish, and Greek languages.

Higgins’ interest in narratives led to pursuits in electronic media and academia; it has always been focused on the stories told by people within communities. An outgrowth of this is “digital storytelling,” which fuses individual and group narratives of struggle and transformation, personal reflexivity, ethnographic research, and digital distribution. Digital storytelling is a natural extension of his experiences as a storyteller, street performer, and educator – blended with digital ethnographic methodologies.

Dr. Higgins is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar grant from the Cyprus Fulbright Commission. He was in Cyprus in Fall 2010, utilizing digital storytelling, oral history . . . and puppetry . . . as methods of peace and community-building between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.  He returned to the island for additional projects in 2011 and 2013 with groups across the island, including the US Embassy, the Cyprus Fulbright Commission, United Nations Development Programme-Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus, and the Cyprus Community Media Centre.

Higgins currently serves as President of the 650 member USF Part-Time Faculty Association, Local 6590, American Federation of Teachers.



Research Interests
Media Technologies
Arts, social, educational, and organizational applications; related theoretical issues.
Critical Pedagogy
Theory and applications to media education, including computer and audio / video / multimedia production education and training.
Grassroots Community-Based Electronic Media ("Alternative" Media):
Origins, operations, policies, and related theoretical questions.
Ethnographic Digital Storytelling
Use of social science methodologies for social applications within media arts.
International Communication
Alternative media, media and development, comparative systems.

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Selected Publications, Presentations, and Workshops

“Oral Histories in Cypriot Classrooms: Memory, Reconciliation and Divided Communities”   Paper presented at Oral History Association annual meeting. Tampa, FLA. October 2015

"Digital Storytelling: Reflexive Practice in the University Classroom"   Presentation at International Digital Storytelling Conference.
Northampton/Amherst, September 2015.

Self-reflexivity in Oral Histories: Pedagogical Practices in Cypriot University Classrooms."  Chapter in Challenging History: Oral History Work in Cyprus.  Ed. Holger Briel.  Nicosia: U of Nicosia Press.

"Re-framing the World: Cypriot University Students, Oral Histories, and Self-Reflection."  Paper presented at the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), Community Communication Section.  Dublin, Ireland.  June 2013.

"Community Media for Peace and Development in Cyprus."  Panel organizer, facilitator, participant.  "OurMedia" pre-confernece of the IAMCR.  Dublin, Ireland.  June 2013.

"Digital Storytelling in Cyprus: Peacebuilding Through Reflection and Community Media."  Organizer and presenter, 5th International Digital Storytelling Conference.  Hacetteppe University, Ankara Turkey.  May 2013.

“`Free Speech’ and U.S. Public Access Producers.” Chapter in The Power of Global Community Media, Ed. Linda K. Fuller. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. [Re-print of 2007 Community Media: International Perspective.] 

“Building Self-reflexivity and Community Through Digital Storytelling in Cyprus.” Panel presentation, Community Media Forum Europe. Nicosia, Cyprus. November 2011.
“Fulbright Changes Lives.” Workshop designer and facilitator. Self-Reflexive workshop sessions with Cypriot Fulbright alumni, for 50th anniversary of Cyprus Fulbright Commission. Nicosia, Cyprus. July 2011.
Peace-building Through Listening, Digital Storytelling, and Community Media in Cyprus.” Global Media Journal: Mediterranean Edition 6.1. 2011. [Also available at http://globalmedia.emu.edu.tr/  -- select "Archive" on left -- Spring 2011]
“Dervin’s Sense-Making Methodology as a Method of Implementing Critical Pedagogy and Student Self-Reflexivity.” Presentation at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Non-Divisional Workshop. Chicago. May 2009.
“Critical Pedagogy, Student Self-Reflexivity, and Sense-Making Methodology.” Presentation for annual Academic Resource Conference of Western Association of Schools and Colleges. San Diego, April 2008.
"`Free Speech’ and U.S. Public Access Producers. Chapter in Community Media: International Perspectives, Ed. Linda K. Fuller. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 185-196. 2007.    [pdf 147 KB]
“New Lenses, Old Frames: Forward to the Past with `Web 2.0’?” Presentation at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Community Communication Section. Paris. July 2007.
“Bridging Ourselves: Self-reflexivity and Digital Storytelling in the Media Classroom.” Presentation at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Non-Divisional Workshop. San Francisco. May 2007.
“A Praxis Moment for Web 2.0: New Technologies, Old Mistakes?” Presentation, Alliance for Community Media – Western States Fall Conference. San Jose. October 2006.
Panelist, "Winning Hearts -- and New Audiences." Digital Storytelling Festival. KQED, San Francisco. October 2005.
"Access San Francisco Strengthens the Fabric of Community Life.” MediaFile 23.2: 3-4. Spring 2005.
The Praxis of Access: Access and Global Activism.” Community Media Review. [Summer 2001.] Revised and reprinted for Community Media Review 27.3. 31-33. Winter 2004.  [pdf  470 KB]
Panelist, “Digital Delivery to the Home.” Digital Independence conference. San Francisco. January 2004.
“Bridging Practice and Theory: `White Papers’ in Public Access Cable Television.” Paper presented at annual conference of the International Communication Association. San Diego. May 2003.
“Sense-Making as a Pedagogical Tool.” Presentation at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Non-Divisional Workshop. San Diego. May 2003.
Guest editor, Community Media Review. “Rethinking Access Philosophy.” Summer 2002.   [pdf  34.2 MB]
Which First Amendment are You Talking About?Community Media Review. Summer 2002.  [pdf 4.4 MB]
A Guide to Philosophical Discussions of Community Media.Community Media Review. Summer 2002.  [pdf 2.79 MB]
“Alternative Media and the Cult of Individualism: Experiences from U.S. Public Access Cable TV.” Paper presented at the “Our Media” pre-conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Community Communication Section. Barcelona. July 2002.
"Negotiating Tolerance: Lived Practices In A Public Access Facility." Paper presented at national conference of the National Communication Association, Communication and the Future Division.  Seattle, USA.  November 9-12, 2000.
"Public Access, The Internet, and Public Space: Tales of Resistance." Paper presented at national conference of the Broadcast Education Association. Las Vegas, USA.  April 2000.
"Community Television and the Vision of Media Literacy, Social Action, and Empowerment." Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 43.4: 1-21. 1999.  [pdf  2.3 MB]
"Sense-Making and Empowerment: A Study of the `Vision' of Community Television." The Electronic Journal of Communication/La Revue Electronique de Communication 9.3. 1999.
"The Intersection of Sense-Making and Focus Group Research." Paper presented at International Communication Association, Non-Divisional Workshop. San Francisco, USA. May, 1999.
"Critical/Feminist Pedagogies in the Context of Turkish Cyprus." Paper presented at the conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Participatory Communication Research Section. Glasgow, Scotland. July 26-30, 1998.
“How to Make Your Puppet Come Alive.” The Kids’ How to Do (Almost) Everything Guide. Ed. Murray Suid. Palo Alto: Monday Morning Books. 10-11. 1998.
"Paulo Freire and Social Transformation." Peace Review 9.4: 571-577. 1997.  [pdf  4.75 MB]
"The Influence of Latin American Critical/Cultural Scholarship on U.S. Communication and Media Studies." Paper presented at the conference "Hispanics: Cultural Locations," University of San Francisco, USA. October 10-12, 1997.
"Community Television: Yesterday's `Liberating Technology'?" Paper presented at the 9th Macbride Roundtable, Boulder Colorado, USA, October 1 - 2, 1997.
"Community Television as Process: A Study of Media Literacy, Social Action, and Empowerment." Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Mass Communication Division. Montreal, Quebec, 22-26 May 1997.

Ross, Jesikah Maria.  2007.  "Training for Empowerment: Studies by John W. Higgins." Community Media Review 20.2: 8+.     [pdf 440 KB]

"The Teaching of American Media Studies: Contributions from Latin America." Paper presented at the conference "Crossing the Boundaries: Cultural Studies in the U.K. and the U.S." Ege University, Faculty of Letters. Izmir, Turkey, May 1996.
"Training Strategies That Promote Media Literacy." Panel presentation, national conference of Aliance for Community Media (ACM). Boston, July 1995.
"Empowerment: Access Visions and Producer Realities." Community Media Review 18.3 (May/June 1995): 13+.    [pdf  339 KB]
Tracing the Vision: A Study of Community Volunteer Producers, Public Access Cable Television, and Empowerment.   Diss. Ohio State U. Ann Arbor: UMI. 9517017. 1994.
"Beyond the Night of the Broadcast Clones: Visions of Empowerment, Media Literacy, and Demystification." Community Television Review 16.3 (May/June 1993): 17-19.    [pdf  287 KB]
"Development Communication as `Public Relations': The U.S. Army in Honduras." Paper presented at conference of International Association for Mass Communication Research (IAMCR), International Communication Section. Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 1992.
"Media as Voodoo: Broadcast and Community TV Through Jean Gebser's Interpretive Structures." Paper presented at annual conference of International Communication Association, Philosophy of Communication Division. Miami, May 1992.
"Video Pedagogy as Political Activity." Journal of Film and Video 43.3 (Fall 1991): 18-29.  [pdf  304 KB] 
"Night of the Broadcast Clones: The Politics of Video Training." Community Television Review 14.3 (August 1991): 9-12.   [pdf  416 KB] 
"Video Training as Political Act: Implications for Community Television and Higher Education." Paper presented at annual conference of UDC. San Diego, October 1990.

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