Faculty and Staff

Janelle Silva

Janelle Silva

Assistant Professor

B.A., Psychology and History of Art & Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz
PhD., Social Psychology and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

Office: UW1-338
Phone: 425-352-3202

Email: jmsilva@uw.edu

Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


I see my classroom as a hotbed for critical thinking, knowledge generation, and intriguing dialogue. To quote John Brown Childs’ (2002), “we all live in different rooms, with different fixtures, different things that make our room our room. Yet together, we all live in the same house and we must learn how to live in that house as one.” Ideally, it is my hope that students will leave my classroom realizing the importance of recognizing difference and understanding how power and social structures shape a person’s lived experiences, as well as use the skills they have acquired to work toward social action.
My goal is for students to learn to use their voice, be agentic and active learners, and take their knowledge “to the streets”. To guide students in this process, I utilize a variety of methods in my teaching, including debates, class presentations, lectures, film screenings, group projects, and critical dialogue. My lectures are designed to be more conversational and I consistently challenge students to think about social context, power, and privilege so that they learn to work toward social change. My experiences in higher education consistently had me questioning the “so what?” as to why what I was learning was important for me to know. I address this in each class by providing students the “so what?” through connecting theory to practice and allowing students to discover this link for themselves. I encourage students to meet with me throughout the quarter to discuss the curriculum and their reflections on the course. It is my goal that all students leave my class and put theory into practice by taking the skills and knowledge they have acquired to be a part of future change.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 316 Topics in Psychology: Women’s Lives in Context
BISCP 343 Community Psychology
BISSEB 304 Institutions & Social Change
BCUSP 170 Introduction to Psychology


My research examines the role of context in children’s understanding of social groups and identities. Specifically, I have focused on the role of the media and school in constructing social identities that can lead to young children’s (mis)understanding of social groups. The questions that drive my research center on the topics of power, privilege, equity, and social justice. Which social groups are represented, and which are being ignored or derogated?  Whose perspective is being used to construct these identities? How does representation of particular social identities in these contexts equate to knowledge and power for children?  What shifts are needed to construct all social groups and identities in a positive manner, particularly for children who are members of these groups?  And, from a collectivistic standpoint, what are the potential outcomes (e.g., coalition building) for social change that can come from learning about social groups via a culturally and historically relevant perspective?

Selected Publications

Silva, J.M. (in press). Critical classrooms: Using artists’ lives to teach young students power and privilege. Urban Education.

Silva, J.M. & Grabe, S.A. (2011). The public sector, women and leadership. Invited chapter in M. Paludi & B. Coates (Eds.) Praeger Handbook on Women’s Leadership: Transforming Organization Through Shared Power.

Silva, J.M. & Langhout, R.D. (2011). Cultivating agents of change in children. Theory and Research in Social Education, 39(1), 61-91.

Hurtado, A. & Silva, J.M. (2008). Creating new social identities in children through critical multicultural media: The case of “Little Bill.”  New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 120, 17-30.

Hurtado, A. & Silva, J.M. (2008). The road less traveled: The sex lives of Mexican 
immigrants. [Review of the book Erotic Journeys: Mexican Immigrants and Their 
Sex Lives
, by G. González-Lopez]. MALCS Journal, 72, 78-80.