Elizabeth Thomas

Elizabeth Thomas

Professor of Psychology, Director of Urban Studies

Dr. Elizabeth Thomas is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director and Plough Chair of Urban Studies and Executive Director of the Memphis Center. Her 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. She is 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. She collaborates with children, university students, and community partners to conduct research and intervention in schools and other educational settings.

Selected Publications
Main, N.*, Emelue, C.*, Malabanan, E.*, Malpert, A.*, Hoffman, S., Walton, M., & Thomas, E. (2016). The Community Narrative Research Project: Undergraduate students examining their own and others’ experiences of civic engagement over time. The Community Psychologist, 49, 1, 5-8. 

Thomas, E., Pate, S.*, and Ranson, A.* (2015). The crosstown initiative: Art, community, and placemaking in Memphis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 55, 74-88.

Hill, J., Kloos, B., Thomas, E., & Wandersman, A. (2015). Prevention science. International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd Edition.

Dalton, J., Hill, J., Thomas, E. & Kloos, B. (2012). Community psychology. In I. B. Weiner (Series Ed.) & D. K. Freedheim (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of psychology: Vol. 1. History of psychology (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley. 

Weiner (Series Ed.) & D. K. Freedheim (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of psychology: Vol. 1. History of psychology (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley. 

Kloos, B., Hill, J., Thomas, E., Wandersman, A., Dalton, J., & Elias, M. (2012). Community Psychology: Linking Individuals and Communities, 3rd edition. Cengage Publishing.

Langhout, R., & Thomas, E. (2010). Imagining participatory action research in collaboration with children: An introduction. American Journal of Community Psychology, 46, 60-66.

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.

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.


Ph.D., Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
B.A., Psychology, Georgetown University (Phi Beta Kappa)