Faculty and Staff

Elizabeth Thomas

Associate Professor and Associate Director for Graduate Education

B.A. Psychology, Georgetown University
Ph.D. Psychology, University of Illinois

Office: UW1-338
Phone: 425-352-3590
Email: thomaseb@uw.edu
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


I think about teaching as facilitating meaningful dialogue, engagement, and inquiry with students. As a teacher, I try to communicate my curiosity and love of learning. I also value listening and learning with my students. I want students to think about learning as a process that enriches and enables valuable contributions they may make as individuals and as parts of communities. Toward these goals, I strive to teach in ways that foster active learning and encourage students to make connections between the classroom and other commitments. Teaching in IAS, a program that makes explicit connections across disciplinary boundaries, is particularly rewarding to me. We are challenged as teachers and students to think critically, creatively, and collaboratively in addressing difficult and complex problems.

Courses Taught

BIS 343 Community Psychology
BIS 348 Cultural Psychology
BIS 434 Psychology and the Visual Arts
BIS 489 Projects in Community Psychology
BIS 490 Senior Seminar: Community-Based Program Evaluation
BPOLST 592 Qualitative Inquiry


My research focuses on social and cultural contexts for learning, adolescent engagement in community-based settings, and the potential of arts-based and participatory strategies for community research and action. I am interested in how young people's understandings of themselves and others are shaped by specific educational experiences, but also how children and youth actively engage and shape their learning environments. I collaborate with children, university students, and community partners to conduct research and intervention in schools and other educational settings.

Selected Publications

Thomas, E., & Mulvey, A. (2008). Using the arts in teaching and learning: Building student capacity for community-based work in health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 13, 2, 239-250.

Place, N., Hillyard, C., & Thomas, E. (2008). Students and teachers learning to see: Using visual images in the college classroom to enhance the social context for learning. College Teaching, 56, 2, 74-77.

Thomas, E., Place, N., & Hillyard, C. (2008). Students and teachers learning to see: Using visual images in the college classroom to promote student capacities and skills. College Teaching, 56, 1, 23-27.

Thomas, E., & Gillespie, D. (2008). Weaving together undergraduate research, assessment, and mentoring of junior faculty: The case of an interdisciplinary program. Innovative Higher Education, 33, 1, 29-38.

Thomas, E. (2007). Student engagement and learning in a community-based arts classroom. Teachers College Record, 109, 3, 770-796.