Office of Scholar Development Staff
- Director, Office of Scholar Development; Associate Professor of History
- HCIC 1040
Honors 402: Capstone Experience/Thesis Proposal Writing
History 348: The United States, 1900-1945
History 491: Special Topics: Disease and Medicine in the United States (Fall 2020)
Honors 300: Medicine and Society in Modern America
Honors 300: Disability in America
Dr. Audra Jennings directs the Office of Scholar Development and serves as Associate Professor of History at Western Kentucky University (WKU), where she teaches the history of disability, medicine, and modern United States history.
Her book, Out of the Horrors of War: Disability Politics in World War II America ((Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), analyzes the ways in which the U.S. state at mid-century defined citizenship around notions of ablebodiedness by examining the American Federation of the Physically Handicapped, a national, cross-disability social movement organization that emerged during the war. She is currently writing a book, Insecurity: Disability, the Great Depression, and the New Deal State, that examines how thinking about citizens’ bodies, abled or disabled, shaped New Dealers’ efforts to relieve the suffering wrought by the Great Depression and effect long-term economic security. Perceptions of disability informed how reformers and policymakers imagined that the nation might undertake the business of saving capitalism and implementing the promises of security and economic citizenship. Insecurity examines ideas about disability, both as a metaphor about and a physical condition of bodies, policy responses to disability, and the actual experiences of disabled Americans who increasingly became the objects of policy meant to correct, contain, understand, and erase a central element of their identity. The project has been funded by the National Science Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the Roosevelt Institute, and Western Kentucky University’s Office of Research and Creative Activity, Potter College of Arts and Letters, and University College.
Dr. Jennings has written articles that focus on how concern for health and safety inspired and shaped the U.S. labor movement, examine the dynamics of gender and disability, and analyze the medicalized politics of veterans’ health and disabled veterans’ activism in mid-century America. She is the recipient of the Disability History Association Outstanding Article Award and the James Madison Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government for her article "‘An Emblem of Distinction': The Politics of Disability Entitlement, 1940-1950," which appeared in The Politics of Veterans Policy: Federal Policies and Veterans in the Modern US, ed. Stephen R. Ortiz (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2012). She also served three terms as Secretary of the Disability History Association and chaired the OAH Committee on Disability and Disability History.
She received her Ph.D. in modern U.S. history from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2008.
Dr. Jennings is a native of Sacramento, Kentucky. She began her career at Ohio State University, Newark, where she taught U.S. history and historical methods. In 2009, she joined the Mahurin Honors College at WKU, first working with students pursuing Capstone Experience/Thesis projects and then taking on the role of Director of the Office of Scholar Development in 2011. In the Office of Scholar Development, she provides intensive writing support as students develop national scholarship applications and research proposals and offers workshops focused on helping students plan for their careers, pursue national scholarships, and learn about opportunities for research, internships, and international study, among other avenues for experiential learning. She is the advisor for the Out in Honors Network and Americans for Informed Democracy.
In her free time, she enjoys running, CrossFit, baking, and spending time with her dogs.