Faculty Focus: Chuck Sterin

Multi-Talented Professor Chuck Sterin Makes Education a Multimedia Experience

By Stephanie Edwards |   October 2010

Chuck Sterin , Faculty

School of Undergraduate Studies

Years ago, when Chuck Sterin was asked to author two courses at UMUC—COMM 300 Communications Theory and COMM 400 Mass Media Law, he thought he would merely be authoring the courses, then teaching the test versions. Instead, he stayed on to become one of UMUC’s first collegiate faculty members. He continues to teach and inspire students today, not only through these courses, but also through his professional work.

A successful screenwriter, author, producer, and photographer, Chuck brings all these talents to the table when he teaches. He explained, “I see ‘my job’ as being to inspire and facilitate my students, my documentary TV audiences, my readers, to captivate them with my stories in a way that helps them to look differently at aspects of their world.”

Chuck explained that his field is unique, because there is no one clear path to entry. He tells his students: plan on having to put in a lot of hard work, be a team player, read, watch, and listen to a broad range of topics, and above all be able to tell a good story. According to Chuck, effective storytelling teaches people critical thinking skills and expands their worldview, as well as entertaining.

 “The goal of my various forms and formats of storytelling is twofold: to motivate people to take responsibility for looking at important controversial events, trends, and phenomena…in a broader, more rounder context; and to teach them to be more skilled mass media consumers and better informed citizens—of America and of the world,” said Chuck.

His own ability to tell eye-opening stories led him to produce over 65 hours of documentary television. He has been awarded many national and international awards for his work. Though it is difficult to pinpoint his favorites, Chuck said he feels particularly good about three of his films: Rowing the Mainstream (PBS), December Dawn (PBS), and Seven Minutes that Changed the Navy (A&E Investigative Reports).

In addition to producing documentaries, Chuck has authored many screenplays—26 to date. He has developed two of his screenplays into novels and is currently co-authoring and co-creating a sci-fi television series with Paul Levinson.

On the educational side, Chuck’s media development and consulting company, MICSI, is currently under contract with Pearson Allyn & Bacon to develop and produce an undergraduate textbook and its companion multimedia Web site. More than just a textbook, Mass Media for the Digital Millennium, is a multimedia experience. Chuck looks to produce a “textbook of the future and the most highly media-rich based mass media textbook to date.” Along with authoring the book, Chuck is lead photo editor, member of the design team, and producer of 45 mini-documentary film segments, to be streamed on the companion Web site.

In the classroom, Chuck says he is always expanding his formats and mediums of storytelling. “Teaching at UMUC is another aspect of my calling,” said Chuck. He said that it is inspiring when students e-mail him or approach him to say they’ve never taken a course like his before.

“I’m especially gratified when I’ve ‘opened their eyes’ to how the media—and media law—really works, and I’ve caused them to question their preconceived notions and beliefs.”