Faculty and Staff

Janelle Silva

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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

BCUSP 170 Introduction to Psychology
BIS 225 Social Psychology
BISSEB 304 Institutions & Social Change
BISCP 343 Community Psychology
BIS 368 Women’s Lives in Context
BISCP 489 Projects in Community Psychology


My research focuses on how young people can be empowered to create socially just change in their schools. 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? How is power being defined and what can adults do to facilitate student empowerment? How are young people moving toward social action and how does that connect to their views of social justice? And, from a collectivistic standpoint, what are the potential outcomes (e.g., coalition building) for social change that can come from observing how young people are constructing their environments and impacting their surroundings?

Selected Publications

Silva, J.M. & Langhout, R.D. (2016). Moving Toward an Empowering First Grade Classroom for Working Class and Working Poor Latina/o Children: An Exploratory Analysis. The Urban Review, 48(1), 149-174.

Silva, J.M. & The Students for Gender Equity. (2015). A feminist approach to teaching community psychology: The senior seminar project. The Feminist Teacher, 25(2-3), 111-123.

Silva, J.M., Langhout, R.D., Kohfeldt, D, & Gurrola, E. (2015). “Good” and “Bad” kids? A race and gender analysis of effective behavioral support in an elementary school. Urban Education, 50(7), 787-811.

Silva, J.M. (2012). Critical classrooms: Using artists’ lives to teach young students power and privilege. Urban Education, 47(4), 776-800.

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.