Shirley Brice Heath

Shirley Brice Heath


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Shirley Brice Heath is a Professor of English and Dramatic Literature and a linguistic anthropologist whose primary interests are innovation in learning, business, health, race relations and organizational learning.

Nevertheless, her major research since 1987 has been with young people in under-resourced neighborhoods who are taught both entrepreneurial and community building skills as they help create and sustain positive learning environments that contribute to local cultural and economic resources.

Professor Heath is a Brown University professor-at-large and a visiting research professor at the Watson Institute. She directs an undergraduate research team at Watson that functions in many international locations but with a special focus on the Latin American and Caribbean nations and on U.S. communities that have immigrants from these nations.

She is a MacArthur Prize winner that has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and she also holds honorary degrees from Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Stockholm University, and Goldsmith University of the University of London.

During Prime Minister Tony Blair's administration she carried out research with Brown graduates and undergraduates on various Blair initiatives including health, education, and community building.

She directed a documentary entitled 'ArtShow' which explores four youth-based arts organizations in New York, Boston and in the rural communities of Kentucky and northern California and it profoundly illustrates the ways in which young people can defy the public perception of youth as vulnerable, apathetic and disengaged from productive challenge.

She is the author of the prize-winning book, 'Ways with Words: Language, Life, And Work In Communities And Classrooms' (1983) and was the co-editor of 'Identity and Inner-city Youth: Beyond Ethnicity And Gender' (1993).

She has written several other books and over one hundred articles and book chapters and her publications examine four major areas, language socialization, organizational learning, youth culture and language planning.

Professor Heath moved to Brown's Education Department after two decades of teaching at Stanford University in the Departments of English, Linguistics and Anthropology and also at Stanford's Graduate Schools of Education and Business.

Central to her current research is later language and multi-media literacy development focusing on learners between the ages of eight and twenty eight and the voluntary participation of young people in long-term projects that center on the arts, environmental sustainability and social justice.