Donna Freitas, Ph.D.
Scholar, Author, & Speaker
Fascinating, disturbing...Freitas's tone is engaging and her writing persuasive...Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn.
Provocative...Anyone with any interest in mentoring young people should read this book and its recommendations, because there's great hope and wisdom in them.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD
With thick description and compelling accounts from youth, Freitas invites the reader to tour American collegiate life as she showcases how social media exacerbates the pressure that today’s students feel to be happy and successful. The Happiness Effect demonstrates how timeless collegiate practices are being reshaped by the anxiety and stress students face, asking hard questions about technology and social life.
The "happiness effect" isn't as lurid a woe as teens sending racy pictures, but it is an important phenomenon to understand and one that parents, teachers and college administrators need to address.
The Wall Street Journal
Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction, and she lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students, most recently at Colby, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Yale. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and she’s currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College.
In 2008, Donna published Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses with Oxford University Press, based on her national study about sex on campus. Her latest book is called The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (Oxford, February 2017), and it is based on her research for a new study about social media and how it is effecting the ways we construct identity and sense of self, how we make meaning in the world, and navigate our relationships during college. In 2014 and 2015, Freitas conducted approximately 200 in-person interviews with college students at thirteen different colleges and universities, and collected nearly1000 online surveys about these subjects.
Donna is also the author of six novels for children and young adults, including The Survival Kit (FSG, 2011), named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winner of the Bookstar Award in Switzerland, and This Gorgeous Game (FSG, 2010), also named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, a winner of the CCBC Choice Award, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best winner. Her novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood (FSG, 2008), received five starred reviews and many accolades, including: an Indie Next Kids' List Great Read, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List. Donna has also published two middle grade companion novels with Scholastic, Gold Medal Summer (about a gymnast) and Gold Medal Winter (about an ice skater), which just won a CCBC Choice Award. In June, Unplugged the first novel in her sci-fi trilogy about two competing worlds, one real, one virtual, will be out in June from HarperTeen. She lives in Brooklyn.
A typical visit from Dr. Freitas will include a formal lecture, a professional development workshop with staff and faculty, often a classroom visit if a professor is teaching one of her books, and several informal conversations in small group settings and/or over a meal. Dr. Freitas works individually with each campus to develop a schedule of events that fits the needs of the various departments and inviduals who have planned her visit. Dr. Freitas will talk through possible events with her campus contact over the phone.
Individually Tailored Visits
Dr. Freitas lectures all over the country about her research on college students, in particular on hookup culture, romance, dating, and sexual assault, as well as college student religious & spiritual identity, and most recently about her research on social media and the college experience.
Dr. Freitas is a former student affairs professional and regularly works with Departments of Student Affairs and Campus Ministry at colleges and universities to develop practical programming and resources related to her research about college students.
Professional Development Sessions & Classsroom Visits
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For lecture, school visit, or media inquiries, please email Donna: