Heather Woods, Ph.D.

Director, Associate Professor
Campus office: 234 E Nichols Hall

Heather Suzanne Woods
is a scholar, teacher and higher ed leader who helps people understand the social impacts of technology so we can build a more just future. She has been researching and teaching about the relationship between technology and culture for nearly a decade. Her research shapes policy-making, product development, and scholarly conversations on emerging technology. As a leader, she empowers communities in higher ed to build resilient, adaptive, inclusive processes and structures in preparation for a changing technological future.

Woods researches how technology influences culture, and how culture influences technology. Most recently, she has studied how memes influence political elections, how people negotiate the rise of artificially intelligent virtual assistants, and how people communicate with unknown others on social media. Her current research focuses on the smart home. Her latest book, “Threshold: How Smart Homes Change Us Inside and Out,” is forthcoming with the University of Alabama Press for the Rhetoric + Digitality series. You can find out more about her research here: https://heathersuzannewoods.com

Woods is primarily an interpretive scholar, but has training and experience in mixed-method qualitative approaches, project management, public engagement, and the digital humanities. Woods’ research has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, The Atlantic, CBC’s Spark, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and more. She also advises not-for-profit and advocacy groups on digital strategy and offers digital literacy and communication training in person and at a distance.

Woods routinely teaches COMM 330: Rhetoric in Western Thought, the introduction to rhetoric course in the Communication Studies program. She also teaches COMM 332: Comm and Technology and COMM 434: Rhetoric and Social Movements. At the graduate level, Woods frequently teaches COMM 732: Contemporary Rhetorical Theory.

Selected publications and media features:

Heather Suzanne Woods (2021) Smart homes: domestic futurity as Infrastructure, Cultural Studies, 35:4-5, 876-899, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2021.1895254

Featured in The New York Times. "Unwanted Connection: Who Has Control of Your Smart Home?" https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/17/realestate/smart-home-devices.html

Heather Suzanne Woods (2018) Asking more of Siri and Alexa: feminine persona in service of surveillance capitalism, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 35:4, 334-349, DOI: 10.1080/15295036.2018.1488082