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Kayla Johnson
134A Taylor Education Building

Dr. Kayla Johnson joined EPE in the Fall of 2020. In her research, she uses visual, student voice, action, and community-engaged methods to explore issues related to learning, development, and social justice in higher and international education. Dr. Johnson’s research has been supported by $500k+ in research grants. Her most recent projects explored: 1) the impact of Covid-19 on teaching and learning opportunities for Indigenous youth in the Peruvian Andes, 2) the impact of international community engagement and service learning programs on developing students as global change agents; 3) the influence of access to postsecondary education on the identity development of rural first-generation Indigenous students; 4) study abroad opportunities for first-generation college students; and 5) collaboratively developing culturally-grounded e-learning opportunities with rural Indigenous communities.

In addition to being an assistant professor in the College, Dr. Johnson also serves as Director of Graduate Global Learning Initiatives, where she aims to further internationalize the graduate student experience. In 2016, she co-founded Centro Educativo Pallata Ayllu (Pallata Community Education Center), a non-governmental organization that facilitates access to culturally-grounded and community-driven educational opportunities for Indigenous children and adults in the Peruvian Andes. She also serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Education and the Journal of International Students (where she was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Service Award).

A first-generation college student, Dr. Johnson earned a dual-title PhD in Higher Education and Comparative & International Education from the Pennsylvania State University, an MS in Higher Education from UK, and BAs in English, French, and Secondary Education from Marshall University. Prior to coming to UK, Dr. Johnson was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Cincinnati, a Postdoctoral Scholar at McGill University (Canada), and an Instructor of Higher Education at Penn State. She has also worked with UK Transformative Learning, International Student and Scholar Services, and Education Abroad.

An Appalachian at heart, Dr. Johnson is excited to return “home.” She drinks too much coffee, is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, a cat lover, a proud Slytherin, and an escape room extraordinaire.


Research: Higher Education, International Education, Qualitative Methodology, Curriculum Design, Diversity in Education, Educational Leadership, Social Justice