Professor & Program Coordinator, Communication & New Media Production, & Program Coordinator of Theatre Studies
Office Location: Chapman Hall, 606
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John Shafer is proud to be a community college faculty member, one of the best jobs in the world, he feels, as it is true education for the people. And, he says, “I can’t think of a better place to teach than right here on the beautiful Middlesex campus with its great students, dedicated fellow faculty members, and enthusiastic group of supporting staff, administrators, and community volunteers.”
Currently, Shafer is a full professor and senior faculty member at Middlesex, where he has taught since 1986. He divides his teaching load between courses in film & media and philosophy & religion. He currently serves as program coordinator of the Communication & New Media Production program and the Theatre Studies program. Prior to this, he served as chair of the Humanities-Arts Division and coordinator of the Broadcast Communications program. He is co-founder of the college’s Digital Arts/Multimedia program and has authored major revisions to the Communication, Broadcast Communication, Liberal Arts & Science, and General Studies programs as well as proposing and implementing over 30 new courses at the college. He played a key role in reestablishing the college’s journalism and theater disciplines. Along with this, he co-founded the former student newspaper, The Flying Horse, and annual summer performing arts festivals in ballet and Shakespeare in the Grove, in partnership with the Connecticut Ballet and ARTFARM. In 2008, he co-developed the nationally recognized Connecticut Film Industry Training program held at Middlesex. Recently, Professor Shafer has focused his efforts on sustainability issues and co-founded the college’s Sustainability Team that helped implement a sustainability priority in the college’s strategic plan. He has received the Board of Trustees Merit Award for academic excellence twice as well as two Professional Staff Awards for service to students.
Originally from California, Professor Shafer attended the University of Southern California as an undergraduate humanities major, then moved east to attend graduate school at Syracuse University, where he studied film and media, and the University of Connecticut, where he studied philosophy. He also studied and worked in Europe for two years, mostly in London and Paris, which he considers two of the most stimulating years of his life.
Previously and while teaching at Middlesex, Professor Shafer has worked in film and television for many years. His production credits include work in feature films, commercials, documentaries, children’s programming, and music videos, as well as educational and corporate videos. He has done several projects in cooperation with Connecticut Public Television; worked on the feature film, The Natural; crewed on a music video for Sting; produced political ads for Governor Jerry Brown; and co-produced the award-winning, nationally syndicated TV show, Kid Stuff. His work has received an Emmy, (3) Awards for Cable Excellence (ACE), (2) Action for Children’s Television Awards, as well as Telly and Communicator Awards.
Professor Shafer also has a long-time interest in human values, the nature of consciousness, and trying to understand the meaning of our current human condition, which he believes is in a state of crisis and transformation. This greatly motivated his ongoing study of philosophy, religion, spirituality, culture, history, and the transition movement. In addition to formal studies in philosophy and religion, he studied and practiced a variety of inner traditions including Yoga, Zen Buddhist meditation, Transpersonal Psychology, Grof Holotropic Breathing, Sufism, Shamanism, and Native American culture and spirituality. He has traveled extensively, including most of Europe, Israel, northern Africa, India, and Russia, as well as in the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico.
A Portland resident, he is the proud father of four homeschooled children. He feels parenting has taught him more about human nature than any academic studies. One of his personal goals is to try and establish a mostly self-sustaining intentional community, or eco-village, in Connecticut that could help serve as a model for a more sustainable way of living.