Research Supervision Interests
I am interested in supervising students working on critically-oriented approaches to: the ethics, philosophy, foundations, and political economy of higher education; and internationalization, decolonization, political economy, sustainability and climate change, and the politics of difference in both formal and informal educational contexts. My approach to research and supervision emphasizes self-reflexivity, critical generosity, and deep engagements with the complexities, paradoxes, contradictions, and uncertainties of educational research, pedagogy, and practice in a contemporary era characterized by multiple overlapping local and global challenges. If you are interested in working with me, please review my work (in my “Bio” below, and the “Research and Education” tab), and send me an email with a bit of information about yourself and your interests, and how they relate to my areas of interest.
My research brings critical and decolonial perspectives to the role of the university in society, and denaturalizes narrow imaginaries of justice, responsibility, and change. In particular, I am interested in examining the social, political, and economic foundations of higher education and how these shape contemporary challenges – including how we both conceptualize and respond to these challenges. In my work on higher education and beyond, I emphasize both the importance and the difficulty of addressing the interrelated ecological, cognitive, affective, relational, and economic dimensions of local and global (in)justice. I am committed to supporting different communities to denaturalize the attachments and desires that keep us invested in violent and unsustainable modes of existence, and to ethically encounter and engage other horizons of possibility without turning away from our complicity in systemic harm. This means that I also work beyond institutionalized educational contexts and conceptualize education in a broader sense as the practice of encountering and being taught by the world in its full depth, complexity, and contradiction.
These are the general questions that currently orient my work:
If colonialism endures not because of a lack of knowledge about colonial violence but rather an enduring investment in colonial habits of being, what kind of cognitive, affective, and relational invitations might interrupt our satisfactions with this habit of being so that other forms of existence might become possible? Why do we keep desiring/hoping for things that hurt other people, other-than-human beings, and ourselves – even when we have an intellectual critique of these things and the harms they produce? Why do we continue to seek simplistic solutions to complex problems, and recreate narrow imaginaries of responsibility and change? What might prompt us to learn from our mistakes, and open ourselves to other possibilities without guarantees and with recognition of their gifts and limitations? What can interrupt and prompt people to surrender the modern/colonial desires for certainty, security, accumulation, individualism, hierarchy, and mastery? How can we invite people to sit with and be taught by critical histories of the present and their own ongoing complicity in harm without running away from it, disidentifying with it, or seeking immediate absolution or resolution? How can we support people to develop the humility and stamina that are required to be a part of a long-term, multi-layered, messy transformation toward alternative futures that are not-yet-knowable?
These are examples of the kinds of questions I ask about decolonization in higher education:
How can we challenge the presumed benevolence of higher education institutions, given the strength of enduring investments in the promises they offer (if don’t always fulfill)? How can we pedagogically interrupt the desire to arrive at a predetermined decolonized future (decolonization as a singular event), and reframe decolonization as a long-term commitment to sit with and ‘compost’ our individual and collective investments in harmful ways of knowing, being, wanting and relating, so that we might disinvest from them and learn to be otherwise (decolonization as an ongoing process)? How can we prompt people to go from merely stating their commitments to decolonization to living them, while recognizing that no action or intervention will ever be “enough”, and that we will likely make new mistakes in the process of trying? How can we interrupt the expectation that Indigenous people should shoulder the pedagogical and affective labor of decolonization for settlers? What are settlers expecting to hear when Indigenous people speak, and are they able to ‘hear’ Indigenous people when they deviate from that script? Are Indigenous knowledges and critiques engaged in earnest, or in selective and instrumentalizing ways? What kinds of futurities do different communities want from higher education? To what extent has a modern/colonial imaginary shaped these desired futurities, and to what extent do these futurities challenge that imaginary? If we let go of our existing desires for higher education, or at least loosened our grip on them, without necessary exiting the existing university, what else might become possible?
These are examples of the kinds of questions I ask about internationalization in higher education:
In efforts to internationalize the curriculum, how can we shift dominant relationships to knowledge from the search for absolute truth to appreciation of contextual relevance? How can we prepare students to navigate complexity and uncertainty in a rapidly changing, unequal, and deeply interdependent world with no clear epistemic authorities? How can our institutions support the development of ecologies of knowledges (and ignorances) in teaching, research, and community engagements, given the tendency to suppress knowledge systems that challenge Western epistemic hegemony and dominant modes of ecological, relational, and economic organization (Santos, 2007)? What economic and geopolitical histories and relations have made the West a desired location for international study? Does expanding access to Western universities for a subset of students alter or reproduce the uneven global higher education landscape? How might we denaturalize assumptions about the superiority of Western(ized) higher education?
In this project, I support the identification, denaturalization, and reimagining of dominant patterns of relationship, representation, and resource production and distribution in the internationalization of education. Beyond fostering engagements with and between diverse critical perspectives, and between scholars, practitioners, students, and community-based organizations, I seek to facilitate deepened understandings of the complexities and contradictions of internationalization as it is currently practiced, as well as the challenges and circularities of efforts to enact internationalization in a more ethical way. While my emphasis is on higher education contexts, there are many resonances with K-12 and informal education contexts as well.
In this project, I examine the social, political, and economic foundations of higher education, study the contemporary implications of these foundations, and consider how we might collectively work to imagine and practice higher education otherwise. The formalized field of higher education has yet to have a sustained and rigorous conversation about how the colonial-capitalist foundations of modern higher education institutions continue to shape both the challenges we face and dominant responses to those challenges. However, in my work in this area I do not seek nor claim to offer answers or recipes for “decolonizing higher education.” Rather, I work collaboratively and cross-disciplinarily with others to grapple with the uncertainties, complexities, contradictions, and difficulties that we face, and to support people in strategic, self-reflexive, and situated efforts to work within the ‘cracks’ of existing institutions to both reduce harm and experiment (responsibly) with possible alternatives. Future work in this area will develop critical and decolonial approaches to teaching and learning in higher education institutions across multiple disciplinary contexts.
In this project, I work with research groups and networks of educators, practitioners, community activists, and artists who have identified the limits of dominant theories of social change and imaginaries of justice, and who therefore seek to experiment with alternative possibilities that are viable but largely unimaginable within modern/colonial frames of reference and institutionalized forms of education. This work specifically emphasizes engagements with experiments that conceptualize social change beyond horizons of hope oriented by separability/individualism, global capitalism, the nation-state, and universal reason/values.
- Stein, S. (in press). A colonial history of the higher education present: Rethinking land-grant institutions through processes of accumulation and relations of conquest. Critical Studies in Education.
- Stein, S. (in press). Higher education for volatile times: Decolonial critique as a theory of change. Educational Studies.
- Stein, S. (in press). The ethical and ecological limits of sustainability: A decolonial approach to climate change in higher education. Australian Journal of Environmental Education.
- Stein, S. (in press). ‘Truth before reconciliation’: The difficulties of transforming higher education in settler colonial contexts. Higher Education Research and Development.
- Stein, S. (2019). Beyond higher education as we know it: Gesturing towards decolonial horizons of possibility. Studies in Philosophy & Education, 38(2), 143-161.
- Stein, S, Andreotti, V. & Suša, R. (2019). Pluralizing frameworks for global ethics in the internationalization of higher education in Canada. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 49(1), 22-46.
- Stein, S, Andreotti, V. & Suša, R. (2019). Beyond 2015, within the modern/colonial global imaginary? Critical Studies in Education.
- Buckner, E. & Stein, S. (2019). What counts as internationalization? Deconstructing the internationalization imperative. Journal of Studies in International Education, 60(3), 281-301.
- Stein, S. (2018). Confronting the racial-colonial foundations of US higher education. Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education, 3, 77-98.
- Stein, S. (2018). Frames of racial value in U.S. university presidents’ responses to the travel ban. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies. 17(4), 893-919.
- Stein, S. (2018). Higher education and the im/possibility of transformative justice. Critical Ethnic Studies, 4(1), 130-153.
- Stein, S. (2018). National exceptionalism in the “EduCanada” brand: Unpacking the ethics of internationalization marketing in Canada. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 39(3), 461-477.
- Stein, S. (2018). Rethinking critical approaches to global and development education. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 27, 1-13.
- Andreotti, V.D.O., Stein, S., Amsler, S., Sutherland, A., Suša, R., Pashby, K. & the Gesturing Toward Decolonial Futures Collective. (2018). Mobilising different conversations about global justice in education: Toward alternative futures in uncertain times. Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 26, 9-41.
- Stein, S. (2017). Internationalization for an uncertain future: Tensions, paradoxes, and possibilities. Review of Higher Education, 41(1), 3-32.
- Stein, S. (2017). The persistent challenges of addressing epistemic dominance in higher education: Considering the case of curriculum internationalization.Comparative Education Review, 61(S1), S25-S50.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V.D.O. (2017). Afterword: Provisional pedagogies toward imagining global mobilities otherwise. Curriculum Inquiry, 47(1), 135-146.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V.D.O. (2017). Higher education and the modern/colonial global imaginary. Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies, 17(3), 173-181.
- Stein, S., Hunt, D., Suša, R. & Andreotti, V.D.O. (2017). The educational challenge of unraveling the fantasies of ontological security. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 11(2), 69-79.
- Stein, S. (2016). Rethinking the ethics of internationalization: Five challenges for higher education. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 12(2), 1-23.
- Stein, S. (2016). Universities, slavery, and the unthought of anti-Blackness. Cultural Dynamics, 28(2), 169-187.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V. D. O. (2016). Cash, competition, or charity: International students and the global imaginary. Higher Education, 72(2), 225-239.
- Stein, S., Andreotti, V. D. O., Bruce, J., & Suša, R. (2016). Towards different conversations about the internationalization of higher education. Comparative and International Education/Éducation Comparée et Internationale, 45(1).
- Andreotti, V. D. O., Stein, S., Pashby, K., & Nicholson, M. (2016). Social cartographies as performative devices in research on higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 35(1), 84-99.
- Stein, S. (2015). Mapping global citizenship. Journal of College and Character, 16(4), 242-252.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V. D. O. (2015). Complicity, ethics and education: Political and existential readings of Spivak’s work.Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, 9(1), 29-43.
- Andreotti, V. D. O., Stein, S., Ahenakew, C., & Hunt, D. (2015). Mapping interpretations of decolonization in the context of higher education. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society,4(1), 21-40.
Selected book chapters
- Stein, S. (in press). Pluralizing possibilities for global learning in the context of Western higher education. In D. Bourne (Ed.), Bloomsbury handbook for global education and learning. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.
- Haapakoski, J. & Stein, S. (2018). The ethical implications of internationalisation for a knowledge economy: A critical discourse analysis approach to contemporary strategies in Finland and Canada. In V. Korhonen & P. Alenius (Eds.), Internationalisation and transnationalisation in higher education. Peter Lang.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V.D.O. (2018). What does theory matter? Conceptualizing race critical research. In G. Vass, J. Maxwell, S.Rudolph and K. N. Gulson, The relationality of race in education research. Routledge.
- Naepi, S., Stein, S., Ahenakew, C., & Andreotti, V. D. O. (2017). A cartography of higher education attempts at inclusion and insights from Pasifika scholarship. In C. Reid & J. Major (Eds.), Global teaching: Southern perspectives on working with diversity (pp. 81-99). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Stein, S. & Andreotti, V.D.O. (2016). Postcolonial insights for engaging difference in educational approaches to social justice and citizenship. In A. Peterson, R. Hattam, M. Zembylas, & J. Arthur (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of education for citizenship and social justice(pp. 229-245). London: Palgrave Macmillan.