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Qingwen Dong
Department Chair
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211

Heather Hether, Ph.D.

Teresa BergmanAssistant Professor

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching is grounded in a two-pronged approach, one that focuses on enhancing critical thinking as well as developing a professional skill-set. Specifically, I incorporate many activities that will provide students with “real world” learning. This includes things like working on campaigns for a Client, inviting professionals to guest lecture in the classroom, preparing a case study to submit to a nation-wide competition, or developing writing and presentation skills. I strive to make my classes as relevant as they can be to best prepare students for jobs after college and to excite them about the field of communication and public relations. In addition to developing their practical skill-set, I also encourage students to think critically, engage with theory, and develop themselves intellectually as well. Therefore, in my classes I aim to strike a balance between developing students’ theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Courses I Teach at Pacific

COMM 135: Principles of Public Relations
COMM 137/237: Public Relations Case Studies and Problems
COMM 156/256: Public Relations Campaigns
COMM 275: Graduate Seminar in Public Relations

Special Topics (C193/293):
Social Media for Public Relations
Health Communication

Research Interests

My research focuses on health-related communication. I study both the process and impacts of how health-care organizations communicate health information in legacy and new media platforms. My research also examines how health care organizations cultivate relationships with their key publics, including health care consumers; health care practitioners; and health care policymakers through online platforms.

My current work examines how the country's largest not-for profit integrated health care delivery system, Kaiser Permanente (KP), uses social media to cultivate relationships with their key publics. This case study uses three research methodologies - in-depth interviews, content analysis, and social network analysis - to examine how KP facilitates dialogic communication on their social media properties. My previous research has examined the impacts of health information communicated through non-traditional channels, such as through social networking sites and through entertainment television programs.


Research Focus

Some Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications and Conference Presentations

Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.T., & Valente, T.W. (in press). It's better to give than to receive: The role of social support, trust, and participation on health-related social networking sites. Journal of Health Communication.

Pariera, K.L., Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.M., de Castro Buffingon, S., and L. Baezconde-Garbanati. (2013). Portrayals of reproductive and sexual health issues on primetime television. Health Communication.

Murphy, S.T., Hether, H.J., Felt, L.; & Buffington, S. (2012). Public diplomacy in prime time: Exploring the potential of entertainment education in international public diplomacy. American Journal of Media Psychology, 5, (1-4), 5-32.

Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.T., & Valente, T.W. (May, 2012). Social media and health: The impact of participation on a health-related social networking site. Paper presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, Phoenix, AZ. 

Pariera, K.L., Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.M., de Castro Buffingon, S. and L. Baezconde-Garbanati. (May, 2012). Reproductive and sexual health portrayals on primetime television. Paper presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, Phoenix, AZ. 

Hether, H.J., Murphy, S.T., & Valente, T.W. (March, 2012). Evidence for a hierarchy of social support on health-related social networking sites. Paper presented at the 32nd International Network for Social Network Analysis Conference, Redondo Beach, CA.

Murphy, S.T., Hether, H.J., Chatterjee, J., Buffington, S., & Baezconde-Garbanati, L. (November, 2011). Fiction versus fact: Comparing cancer narratives on popular US television to reality. Paper presented at the 5th International Entertainment-Educational Conference, New Delhi, India.

Contact Information

Heather Hether, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Communication Department
Email Link Email
Phone: 209.946.3046
Office: Psy/Comm Bldg Rm. 4

University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211