Gerald Sussman


Professor Gerry Sussman bridges urban and international studies through a joint faculty position with the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning and the International and Global Studies Program. He encourages an exchange of ideas and critical awareness among the intersecting fields of urban studies, international community development, political economy, and communications. His research interests include democracy studies, urban technological history and culture, labor conditions in the digital era, media and information systems, international politics, public policy, and theories of development.

In 2011, Dr. Sussman published his sixth book, an edited volume titled The Propaganda Society: Promotional Culture and Politics in Global Context. He also authored the books Branding Democracy: U.S. Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe (2010), Global Electioneering: Campaign Consulting, Communications, and Corporate Financing (2005), and Communication, Technology and Politics in the Information Age (1997). Dr. Sussman edited and contributed to Global Productions: Labor in the Making of the "Information Society" (1998) and Transnational Communications: Wiring the Third World (1991). Prior to joining PSU faculty in 1994, Dr. Sussman taught for seven years in social sciences at Emerson College and previously taught for three years in the Department of Political Science, the School of Telecommunications, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University.

Some nine years spent in Southeast Asia, primarily the Philippines, taught Dr. Sussman about the critical issues of economic development and underdevelopment and how the modern histories of the Third World were shaped by the political economic forces and infrastructures of colonialism, imperialism, and neoliberalism. He continues to explore these concerns on a global basis, mainly through the lens of communications systems, ideological representations, and urban political economy.

Dr. Sussman encourages international understanding in the classroom experience through rigorous academic study and research, interactive discussion, and engaged forms of learning. He challenges students to question assumptions, recognize the influence of ideology, media and other external forces and institutions to broaden their worldview, critical interpretations, and sense of citizenship. He also mentors students who wish to use their education, talents, and passions to serve local and international communities.

Collaborating with other USP faculty, Dr. Sussman strives to make PSU more representative of the national demographics and ethnic and racial mix by actively recruiting and encouraging a more diverse faculty and student body. He seeks to contribute to the Toulan School by making its curriculum more inclusive of international perspectives and the diverse cultures of the city and more engaged in international community development.  

Highlights of his career, aside from publishing and editing books, include working as a newspaper journalist, consulting for the United Nations. keynote speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Journalists Association conference, contributing a policy analysis for the Philippine Constitutional Convention, earning the status of full professor at PSU, and delivering the 20th anniversary memorial lecture at Simon Fraser University in honor of Professor Dallas Smythe, a pioneer in the political economy of communication field. He considers research, writing, and publishing crucial elements in fostering a healthy classroom environment.

RESEARCH AREAS: Media and information infrastructures; globalization; political economy of urban development; political economic theory; electoral systems and democratization; Third World development; labor, technology, and public policy

What Professor Sussman has to say...

BEST PARTS OF JOB: Both teaching and the research. Keeping active in research improves the quality of classroom discussions, and an interactive class in turn stimulates the quest for answers to difficult questions, encouraging curiosity and further research.

UNIQUENESS OF THE TOULAN SCHOOL:  Students come with experience in working in communities and with progressive values about what constitutes healthy and socially just living environments. My experience tells me that our students are active learners who seek answers to challenging questions on their own without waiting to merely absorb ideas from their instructors. I also appreciate my colleagues for valuing the principle of interdisciplinary education, their concerns for equity and social justice, and for their commitments to the profession.

ON TEACHING IN PORTLAND: It’s great to work in a city that has a high level of civic engagement, that takes politics and citizenship seriously, and where the issues of quality of life in the City are integrated into the culture of the University and its curriculum.

VISION FOR THE TOULAN SCHOOL: To continue to develop an internationalist orientation, develop strong links with the community, especially with the less privileged neighborhoods, and continue to pursue a teaching approach that prioritizes social development aspects of planning and education.

HOW I FIT INTO THAT VISION: I believe my main contributions in teaching and research fall under the categories of internationalist education, political economic education, and media and communications literacy. All of these understandings, I think, are important learning objectives of the well-educated citizen in a globalizing, communication technology-centered and politically contested world in which our School’s future academics and planners will be working.

OVERARCHING INTERESTS IN THE FIELD: To prepare students for the roles of citizens, activists, scholars, and leaders in the service of the public good, strong communities, global awareness, and peaceful cooperation.

FAVORITE URBAN PLACES: Portland, for its vibrant communities and social interactions; Berlin, for its political and cultural institutions; and New York City, for its energy, diversity, and world city status.

DREAM FOR FUTURE URBAN AREAS: Cities designed for citizenship, cultural and social public interaction; environmental quality; and satisfying work conditions.

WHEN NOT TEACHING I...: Read, go to plays, films, and concerts, write, travel, exercise.

  • PhD
    University of Hawai'i/Manoa and East-West Center