I am an assistant professor at American University where I focus on civic media — especially through our game design lab and MA, communication studies PhD, and our Center for Media and Social Impact.

In 2004 I co-founded Games for Change, and today I continue to build the field of social issue games. Subsequently, I was a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation in their portfolio on Digital Media and Learning. Most recently I was at the UC Berkeley School of Information, where I was a postdoc researcher and instructor in their program on data science. My PhD is from USC Annenberg. You can follow me on Twitter @bgstokes and on LinkedIn.

Research Expertise:

  • Civic learning through real-world games: I study how digital media can structure participation in real-time, engaging participants as they build civic skills in the physical world, and form network ties with immediate impact on neighborhood social issues.
  • Participatory design as civic engagement: I also facilitate and teach community-based design, blurring the overlap of digital and physical worlds (from reinventing the bus stop to mobile mapping), empowering participants to tell a collective story about the future of their neighborhood, while learning skills of coding and urban planning.

Recent Research Affiliations (see also my Projects): I have been investigating how mobile media can situate civic learning in the physical world with the Situated Engagement Group that I helped start with François Bar at USC; in my work with Tracy Fullerton at the Game Innovation Lab I studied how real-world games shape learning networks; in working with the Metamorphosis project led by Sandra Ball-Rokeach I study neighborhood empowerment by analyzing the local communication ecology; and across all this, in my work with Henry Jenkins in Civic Paths I investigated how civic life is changing for young people in a digital age as part of the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics.

In Another Era… I managed programs at NetAid/Mercy Corps in gaming, online volunteering, and online peer learning for global citizenship (now the Global Citizen Corps). Working in educational technology, I was a producer at ProQuest/Bigchalk.com, which reached more than 43,000 schools. I have developed digital games (see the Peter Packet Challenge) and learning communities that engaged more than 150,000 youth in fighting extreme poverty. I studied the single atom wire for my B.A. in physics at Haverford College, and studied West African drumming in Senegal.  

Contact me: If you need to reach me by email, please write bstokes@american.edu.

* Photo credit: Ida Benedetto