Dancing across diverse scholarly worlds ~
Dr. SunWolf has been a trial attorney, an appellate attorney, and the Training Director for Colorado’s Public Defender Office, until she left to get her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of California—studying juries, persuasion, and group communication. Her commitment is to bringing the book-scholarship of social science to the streets and, occasionally, calling out social injustices.
She had also been a performing storyteller, studying with some of the most talented tellers in the country, so she added storytelling to her scholarly research. She has published numerous articles about narrative and the effects of both storytelling and storylistening.
She is now Professor of Communication at Santa Clara University, teaching interpersonal communication, friendships and romances, group dynamics, conflict, persuasion, and multicultural folktales—together with serving as a Visiting Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, teaching Jury Law & Strategies. She recently created a new course, The Science of Happiness, that integrates research about neuroscience, prosocial behavior, complaints and gratitude, and our complex relationships with other people. Her various books translate social science for trial attorneys, describe peer group dynamics (focusing on social inclusion and exclusion), and her upcoming book (God-Thinking, from LexisNexis) bridges neuroscience, religion, and a juror's moral brain. Book now in the typewriter: "Naming: Giving names, changing names, reclaiming names—the complex social rules and consequences of what we call ourselves and others." Stay tuned.
Her research with juries and children’s peer groups has won scholarly awards, including her 2008 book, Practical Jury Dynamics2. Dr. SunWolf conceived and published a new theory, Decisional Regret Theory, which describes how people facing salient decisions engage in counterfactual thinking and storied talk with others—in an attempt to imagine and then avoid unwanted decisional outcomes. In 2008, she received her university's award for scholarship over the previous five years that best represents a major contribution to a field of knowledge.
She has been appointed to the Editorial Boards of Communication Monographs, Small Group Research, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Communication Studies, and Review of Communication.
In the remaining cracks of her life, she is an avid collector of multicultural ghostly tales, a writer of mysteries, and a poet.
Ph.D. Communication, University of California-Santa Barbara
Dissertation: Unlocking the Jury Box: Structure, Leadership, and Storytelling in Jury Deliberations
M.A. Communication, University of California-Santa Barbara
Thesis: Jurors' Intuitive Rules for Deliberation: A Structurational Approach to Communication in Jury Decision Making
J.D. Law, University of Denver, College of Law, Order of St. Ives
B.A. Psychology, California State University-Fresno, summa cum laude
Inside one wolf's den:
Reading Now: How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like and 1001 Arabian Nights
Inspired By: People who keep moving forward, in spite of horrific loss.
Treasured Indulgences: Books and garden roses.
Favorite Movie: Bagdad Cafe.
Dislikes: Bullies and deadlines.
Listening To: Through the Window of a Train, by Blue Highway.
Comfort Food: Buttered popcorn.
Owns a Collection of: Vintage typewriters.
Favorite Time of Day: Sunrise, saffron-rose ball of flame gently turning on the colors.
Favorite Job: My current gig is pretty hard to beat.
Causes: Books for Africa and Pets of the Homeless
Essential Toy: Crayons.
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Department of Communication • Santa Clara University
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