Dawna Thomas

Professor and Chair of Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies, and Chair of Public Health

Dr. Dawna Marie Thomas is a professor and the chair of the Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies Department, chair of the Department of Public Health, the Director of the Law and Justice Minor in the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts & Humanities at Simmons University and a member of the Women's and Gender Studies program. She teaches a cross-section of courses that relate to women, culture, gender, race, culture, family violence, and health and disability. Dr. Thomas's research is grounded in her Cabo Verdean and African American cultural roots and in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood where she grew up and continues to live. Her research includes health and disability policy, racial/ethnic and gender disparities in health, family violence, and identity development. Her latest study The Cabo Verdean Women's Project includes four generations of Cabo Verdean women throughout New England where she explored their experiences with domestic violence, healthcare and disability, and concepts of womanhood. Dr. Thomas' research has been published in journals and books. Her latest book Women's Health: Readings on Social, Economic, and Political Issues includes a collection of articles on the history of women's health, access to health and disability services, health disparities, and culturally relevant approaches to more effective service delivery.
 

Courses

Dr. Thomas teaches a cross section of courses: 

  • SOCI 280 Sociology of the Law
  • SOCI 241 Health, Illness, and Society
  • SOCI/AST/WGST 232 Race, Gender and Health
  • SOCI/AST/WGST 365, WGST 565 Intimate Family Violence: A Multicultural Perspective
  • AST/WGST 210 Black Women, Gender, and Feminisms
  • WGST 100 Introduction to Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies
  • WGST 211 Gender and Society

Research/Creative Activities

Dr. Thomas' research interests include the intersection of disability, gender, race, ethnicity, and class. Her research spans the fields of healthcare policy, disability policy, community-based research, and grassroots coalition building. Her study Understanding Disability in the Cape Verdean Community: An Analysis of Race and Disability in Massachusetts was the first research conducted on disability in the Cape Verdean Community. The latest study The Cape Verdean Women's Project includes four generations of Cape Verdean women throughout New England where she explores their experiences with family life, marriage, domestic violence, healthcare and disability, and concepts of womanhood. Her upcoming recent article A Scholar's Reflection on Intimate Partner Violence in the Cape Verdean Community in the Violence Against Women Journal discusses the intersectionality of race, culture, and domestic violence and how mainstream agencies continue to fail the Cape Verdean community. Her new book Women's Health: Readings on Social, Economic, and Political Issues published by Kendall Hunt includes a collection of articles that provide a historical context about women, their environment, health needs, culture, and introduces innovative approaches around women's healthcare that is culturally relevant. Dr. Thomas's work and dedication are grounded in her Cape Verdean and African American cultural roots and in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood where she lives. Her work continues to show that the Cape Verdean community continues to be socially invisible, misrepresented, and misunderstood by mainstream society.

Dawna Thomas in the News

Dawna Thomas speaking at a Simmons event

Meet Your Professor: Dawna Marie Thomas

Meet Dawna Thomas, Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department! Find out why she dedicates her research to her Cape Verdean and African American cultural roots, and learn more about the new Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Cultural Studies.


Shout-outs from Students and Alums

Ifill Scholar Kaycee Jackson '23

Ifill Scholar Kaycee Jackson '23 Focuses on Race and Politics

Why did you choose to attend Simmons? I transferred to Simmons from another institution. I was interested in being challenged academically, and when I looked at the courses in the political science program at Simmons, I thought this will help...


Bria Gambrell with feminist activist Gloria Steinem at the 2019 National Women's Studies Association in San Francisco, California.

Be the Change: Bria Gambrell '19MA, '19MPP Promotes Intersectional Feminist Policy with Mass NOW

Co-Director of Mass NOW, Bria Gambrell, shares her motivation behind pursuing a dual degree in gender and cultural studies and public policy, and why she finds her position with Mass NOW so rewarding.