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John M. Palella

About John Palella

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John Palella

Brown University

John M. Palella is a Lecturer in Education and Director of the Social Studies MAT Cohort at Brown University. He holds a PhD in History from the University at Albany, a Masters' Degree in Social Studies Education from NYU Steinhardt, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Communication and PR Strategies from Cornell University, and a Bachelor's Degree in Social Studies Education and Public Communication from Ithaca College.


At Brown University John not only runs the graduate program in social studies education, he teaches undergraduate courses in LGBTQIA studies, histories of education, and antiracist teaching and practices. He combines his academic training and educational experience with his passion for critical identity studies. After completing his doctoral work, John served as the inaugural postdoctoral fellow in Clark University’s new Center for Gender, Race, and Area Studies (CGRAS). John directed the Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies concentration, served as the Interim Director of Africana Studies, and taught courses in Women’s and Gender Studies.


As a scholar and educator, John has an unyielding passion for media studies. His dissertation “For a Love of Beauty and Strength:” Masculinity, Muscularity and American Culture, 1880-1980 was the first history of physical fitness and bodybuilding media in the United States. He brings this love for media into the classroom by training social studies teachers in the art and science of storytelling and media literacy. Recently he served as a core faculty member of the URI Media Lab’s professional development program, Courageous Rhode Island.


John has spent the past 22 years teaching history as a means of facilitating intersectional social justice for all stakeholders. He empowers students, of all levels, to engage in resistance, recognize their resilience, and find their joy through social studies curricula. Most recently, he accomplished this by serving as a principal standard writer for the new Rhode Island Social Studies Standards released in March of 2023.