Jody Early, PhD, MS, MCHES Associate Professor
Associate Director, Teaching and Learning Center
Faculty Coordinator, Minor in Health Education & Promotion, School of Nursing & Health Studies
Affiliate Faculty, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, UW Bothell
Affiliate Faculty, Comparative History of Ideas Program, UW Seattle
Affiliate Faculty, Latino Center for Health, University of Washington
A social scientist and health education specialist, my research, teaching and praxis span over 20 years and are greatly influenced by Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, Uri Bronfenbrenner's ecological model, and bell hooks’ writings on radical education and transnational feminist. My work with and in communities is rooted in principles of community-based participatory research and the influence of socio-ecological factors on health and health disparities. Prior to my life in the academy, I worked across public sectors, in secondary education, community health, and regulatory (corporate) affairs. In higher education, I have developed and led accredited undergraduate and graduate health-related programs as well as directed grant-funded community health education and outreach programs primarily for underserved and marginalized populations.
Photo: Co-Presenting with BHS 420 students at the Northwest Film Forum's International Day for Women and Trans People (March 5, 2017).
My teaching philosophy is largely rooted in critical pedagogy and the writings of educators, activists, and scholars, Paulo Freire and bell hooks. A more educated citizenry, according to Freire, results in greater social consciousness and people’s ability to take action. 1 In her book, Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks so eloquently captured the essence of what propels me as an educator. I believe teaching is a practice of freedom, and a calling to “transgress” and to lead others to “transgress against racial, gender, social and class boundaries.”1 In order to assist my students and myself to “move beyond,” I gravitate to Constructivist strategies that involve problem-based learning, active learning, design thinking, and community engagement. Constructivist-centered teaching defies didactic thinking and elitism, in that it positions the student as an active partner and source of power. As such, I seek out ways in which to foster and amplify student voices in the classroom and to provide space to reflect on their experiences as well as see the relevance of what they are learning in their practice settings and daily lives. I support Freire’s assertion that a lecture-based, passive classroom promotes the dominant authority in society and disempowers students.2 Hence, I view the student-faculty relationship as reciprocal and synergetic: we learn from each other. I also believe that I must “teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students if [I am] to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin” (p.13)1 Therefore, I strive to create supportive and inclusive learning community for my students where they can question, apply, and refute concepts presented in the classroom. I also like to take calculated pedagogical risks, experimenting with new strategies and technologies when it is meaningful and possible. When used thoughtfully and effectively, technology can enhance students’ ability to connect to the content as well as to others. It is also a tool by which students can express themselves and demonstrate more authentic learning. I interrogate the use of technologies in my teaching and praxis, and I teach my students to do the same. I am continually exploring digital pedagogies, inside my classrooms as well out in the community, which are empowering, participatory and educative in the best traditions of Freire.
My scholarship has evolved over the years to move beyond purely post-positivist designs to community-based participatory research projects which include mixed methodologies. The foci of my research can be categorized into four primary areas of inquiry: 1) examining social-ecological factors that impact health and health promotion; 2) developing and evaluating tailored community-based health interventions that involve participatory methods, transnational feminism, and collaborative partnerships; and 3) exploring technologies and digital strategies that enhance critical pedagogy in health promotion and in higher education. These three areas overlap and forward the broader goals of reducing health disparities and social inequities and improving quality of life for individuals.
My most recent scholarly projects include: the examination of lay health promotion as feminist activism; developing a culturally tailored mHealth navigation tool for Latinx communities, and applying CBPR principles to assist health systems adopt more ecological and cross-sector approaches to improve healthcare and health equity. Another active stream of my research tests “critical digital” pedagogies that enhance learning and increase social consciousness, self-efficacy and social action.
Interested in collaborating or connecting on common interests? You can find me on Twitter @Jody_Early or reach me via email at Jearly3@uw.edu
1. hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
2. Freire, P (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
3. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Texas Woman’s University
Brigham Young University Provo, UT
Ph.D. Health Studies (Community Health)
M.S. Health Science (School Health emphasis)
B.A. English/Secondary Education (dual)
Minors: History; Health
Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC).