Empowering Media That Matters
Home >> About Us

About Us

The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University, formerly the Center for Social Media, is an innovation lab and research center that studies, designs, and showcases media for social impact. Focusing on independent, documentary and public media, the Center bridges boundaries between scholars, producers and communication practitioners across media production, media impact, public policy and audience engagement. The Center produces resources for the field and academic research; convenes conferences and events; and works collaboratively to understand and design media that matters.

The Center’s activities include:

  • INNOVATIVE RESEARCH to answer key questions underlying social impact media.
  • RESOURCES to facilitate impact through media: issue briefs, fact sheets, blog, and models for documentary and impact campaign production.
  • CONVENING issue experts, social scientists, technology specialists and producers to discuss and track trends, lessons learned, and new models for USER ENGAGEMENT in media.
  • MAKING MEDIA through infographics, videos, and other forms of strategic storytelling.

The Center was founded in 2001 by Patricia Aufderheide, University Professor in the School of Communication at American University and is currently under the leadership of co-directors Caty Borum Chattoo and Brigid Maher. As part of the School, the Center offers research assistantships, screenings, master classes and volunteer opportunities to SOC students. The Center also has fellows associated with funded projects, but has no stand-alone funding for fellows. 

The Center’s work has been supported by the Annie E. Casey, Ford, MacArthur, McCormick, Surdna and Rockefeller and Wyncote Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Contact Information:

Center for Media & Social Impact

American University

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20016-8017

Phone: 202.885.3107

cmsimpact [at] gmail [dot] com