Thomas' research focuses on political learning and democratic engagement; equity, diversity, and inclusion; academic freedom and free speech, and; legal issues in higher education. She directs research on higher education’s role in American democracy, including the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). Thomas currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Public Deliberation and senior associate with Everyday Democracy.
In the News
Discusses how the debate over free speech and inclusion in higher education has reached new levels of vitriol and confusion as legislators and others beyond the academy argue for unfettered speech. Argues that the solution lies in fostering discussion about democratic principles and practices as well as a sense of shared responsibility among members of a campus community for student learning and success.
Presents discussion-based teaching as a pedagogical approach for faculty members to create learning opportunities for their students across disciplines.
Discusses the events leading up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruling decision in Pompeo v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico to rule in favor of a university that had been accused of discriminating against a student because of her political views. Explains the relevant legal precedent, and takeaways professors in the classroom.
Places college student political learning and participation in a broader context by focusing on two long-standing struggles in higher education: how the academy achieves its civic mission, and how it protects and earns its freedom to achieve that mission.
Examines the stereotypes that girls and women face at all educational levels and describe the labyrinth that women enter when they pursue political careers. Explores the role o higher education in building or undermining women's confidence as they prepare for political roles. Points to shifts in American attitudes that foreshadows a more equitable future, and offers recommendations to help colleges and universities cultivate gender equity among the next generation of political leaders.
Discusses how to renew U.S. democracy by ensuring that Americans have an understanding of how American democracy works in order to become engaged citizens.
Summarizes past research and new Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) findings related to civic and political engagement among girls and women.
Explores the critical role that higher education can play alongside expanding coalitions of civic organizations, public officials, and everyday citizens in strengthening democracy. At the heart of these efforts is a conviction that persistent public problems call for dialogue and deliberation that result in collective action by diverse groups of informed, skilled, motivated, and principled citizens--what many call deliberative democracy.