Carolyn M. Shields

Carolyn M. Shields
Professor - Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
397 Education Building

Office Hours: By appointment


  • 1968   Queen's University, BA, French, English
  • 1970   Queen's University, MA, French
  • 1991   University of Saskatchewan, PhD, Educational Administration
  • 1993   Certificate, Problem-based Learning, PBL Training Institute, Palo Alto, CA
  • 1993   National Association of Secondary School Principal's Assessment Training Certification
  • 1986   Certificate, Creative Education Foundation, Certification, Buffalo, NY and Vancouver, BC
    •  Specialist Certification in Special Education, Advanced French as a Second Language, and Administrative Officer Training


Professional Experience:

  • Currently: Professor, College of Education, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • 2005-2011: Professor and Administrator, Department of Educational Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
  • 1994-2005: Professor (all ranks) and Administrator, Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
  • 1991-1994: Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Salt Lake City, UT
  • 1970-1994: Teacher (mostly high school, some elementary for school districts in Labrador, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan); subjects taught: English, French, Special Education

Contributions to Training:

  • 2015-2017: Consultant, Lemont School District, IL
  • 2014-2016: Member, Advisory Board , Kia Eke Panuku, New Zealand
  • 2004: Director and Instructor Leadership Training Institute, Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, China (planned and conducted training for 40 secondary school principals)
  • 1996-present: Consultant to schools and school districts related to structural education change (year-round schooling) including the Roberta Bondar School, Peel, ON; Conseil Scolarie d’Ottawa, Richmond and Penticton School Districts, BC
  • 1992-present: Various workshops conducted related to the improvement of instruction and instructional leadership in contexts of diversity for academic departments, schools, and school districts in Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand, e.g. Hille Middle School, Tinsdale, IL
  • 1992-2003: Repeated consulting, program evaluation, and staff development contracts with the San Juan School District, UT, the district that contains the Utah portion of the Navajo Reservation, where my focus was Navajo schools
  • 2004-2006: External program reviewer for Ministry of Education NS and Ontario and Massey University, New Zealand

Administrative Experience (Education):

  • 2011-2014: Dean and Professor, College of Education, Wayne State University
  • Present: Advisory board member of five international refereed journals
  • 2005-present: Board member, University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA)
  • 2005-2007: Department Head, Educational Organization and Leadership (University of Illinois, Urbana Champagne - UIUC)
  • 2000-2004: Department Head, Educational Studies (University of British Columbia - UBC)
  • 2000-2004: Board Member, Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management
  • 1996-1998: Director, UBC-British Columbia Principals and Vice-Principals Association, Principals’ Short Course
  • 1999-2003: Elected member of the UBC Senate
  • 1998-2004: Appointed Member, BC Ministerial Advisory Council on Academic Standards
  • 1998-2000: President of the Canadian Association for Studies in Educational Administration (also program chair and member of the Board of the Canadian Society for Studies in Education)
  • 1997-2001: Appointed Member, BC Ministerial Advisory Council on Multiculturalism

Research Experience:

  • Over 1 million dollars in grant funding.


My graduate teaching and current research focuses on inclusion, equity, excellence, and social justice - with an emphasis on leadership for K-12 schools and school districts as well as higher education.

Academic Interests

My career has focused on cross-cultural understanding, cross-cultural leadership, and democratic education and leadership. I was a teacher in K-12 public education for 18 years and have been an administrator, teacher, researcher, and professor for over 20 years in higher education. I work collaboratively with colleagues in many countries and have supervised numerous international graduate students. I have planned and conducted leadership training in China; been a consultant to schools on the Navajo nation, to ministerial multicultural and education committees and have done volunteer work with non-profit organizations. Hence, skills are in program development, administration, educational policy development, research and supervision—all related to cross-cultural understanding and social justice.

Area Of Expertise

My teaching and research focuses on leadership for academic excellence and social justice, including the creation of environments in which democratic organizations can effectively prepare students for participation, engagement and citizenship in a pluralistic civil society and global community.  While recognizing the importance of contributing to a body of theoretical knowledge, I am also committed to research that has the potential to improve leadership practice and educational policy, and that contributes to a better understanding of how school leaders in diverse and multicultural contexts can create inclusive teaching and learning environments. Through my scholarly efforts I seek to help leaders understand that social justice involves facilitating the academic success of students as well as attending to the impact of inequitable conditions in the wider society. 

Research Interests

Research activities have resulted in over 100 publications in a wide variety of formats, including seven books, discipline-leading refereed journals, practitioner-owned publications, policy documents, invited book chapters, and consulting reports; service as either editor or editorial board member of sixteen professional publications, and as reviewer for over twenty publications.  During the past 15 years over 50 invited keynote and other presentations and dozens of refereed or reviewed conference presentations both at home and abroad have been given.

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Administration and Leadership (Masters Program)
  • Seminar in Administration, Leadership, and Research with an emphasis on Social Justice (doctoral program)
  • Research Course - Proposal Writing (doctoral seminar)

Community Engagement Activities

Service activities include university service and service to the profession as well as community engagement, i.e., principal leadership institutes in British Columbia and in China, appointment to provincial ministerial advisory committees related to diversity as well as educational academic standards, and founder of the School Leadership Center at UBC.   Community service contributions include founding a non-profit organization to send books to schools in need and membership on the British Columbia Leadership Council.

  • 2008-present: Founding Director and Board Member, non-profit, Books to Schools (shipping books to schools in developing countries in need of print materials)
  • 2000-2005: Board member of non-profit World Servants, BC (raised funds and helped plan development projects)


  •  2017
    Honorary Doctorate Degree - Laval University, Canada's oldest university - founded in 1852; the oldest French language university in North America, and ranked among Canada's top research universities.
  • 2000
    Recipient Liebman Book Award for Shields, C. M. & Oberg, S. L. (2000). Year-round schooling: Promises and pitfalls.
  • 2004
    Elected Fellow of the Commonwealth Council of Educational Administration and Management
  • 2009
    Recipient, Graduate Teaching Award, College of Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2009
    Recipient of the Distinguished Service Award (presented by the Canadian Association for Studies in Educational Administration for lifetime service and contributions to the field)
  • 2010
    Recipient of the Teaching for Social Justice Award (presented by the Leadership for Social Justice SIG of the American Educational Research Association)



  •  Flexible calendars: What does the research say?
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote) 2003 UBC School Leadership Centre inaugural symposium.
  • Good Intentions are not enough: Leadership for social justice and academic excellence
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote) 2005 New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society, Dunedin, New Zealand.
  • History, identity, and social justice
    Shields, C. M. 3 2005 A presentation made (with slight modifications) to four universities in France (Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse, Tours).
  • The potential of balanced calendars to foster equity
    Shields, C. M. 2006 A presentation made to the Conseil Francophone Scolaire, Ottawa (also a presentation in 2005).
  • The chips are stacked against us
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote) 12 2006 for the annual leadership conference, Illinois State University, Normal, IL.
  • Is there a relationship between social justice and school calendars?
    Shields, C. M. 2008 University of Illinois, Psychology Department lecture series.
  • Symposium: The education of multiracial students: Theory, pedagogy, and policy
    Shields, C. M. (Invited discussant). 4 2009 given at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Diego, CA.
  • Le leadership transformatif
    Shields, C. M. 9 2009 Presentation sponsored by the CRIRES Research group, Laval University.
  • Myth, Fairytale, and Educational Equity in Higher Education
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote) 3 2013 Michigan Equity Conference, Detroit, MI.
  • The war on poverty must be won
    Shields, C. M. (Keynote) 3 2014 3rd annual conference on the impact of poverty on education, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
  • Transformative leadership for Maori achievement
    Shields, C. M. 7 2014 presentation at the annual advisory board meeting of Ki Eke Panuku, Tauranga, New Zealand.
  • Crucial conversations in Educational leadership
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote) 8 2015 Leadership conference of Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
  • Transformative Leadership: A Call to Action
    Shields, C. M. 1 2015 Humanities Center Brown Bag presentation, Wayne State University.
  • Social Justice: Presence and Promise in Jesuit Education
    Shields, C. M.(Invited lecture). 1 2015 at the Loyola University, Chicago annual conference on social justice.
  • What does it mean to be Homeless?
    Shields, C. M.(Invited presentation). 5 2016 for the Community Chorus in Detroit, MI.
  • Transformative Leadership For Equitable Adult Education
    Shields, C. M.(Invited presentation). 6 2016 Adult Education, presentation made to the staff of the Michigan Dept. of Adult Education, Lansing, MI.
  • Reflections on the sustainability of Kei Eke Panuku
    Shields, C. M.(Invited presentation). 10 2016 for the annual advisory board meeting of Ki Eke Panuku, Tauranga, New Zealand.
  • A study of two leaders: Promoting diversity and school improvement
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented). 2006 at the annual meeting of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • Pedagogies at risk
    Shields, C. M. (Symposium presentation). 2007 the annual conference of the American Educational Studies Association, Cleveland, OH.
  • Combating the backlash to social justice
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented and symposium organized). 2007 at the annual conference of the University Council for Educational Administration, Alexandria, VA.
  • Engaged and transformative leadership: Working equitably in diverse contexts
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented). 4 2008 at the International Conference on Educational Leadership in Cultural Diversity and Globalization, Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.
  • Rethinking Youth Identity in the (Micro)Policy Context of US schools
    Shields, C. M. (Invited paper presented). 2008 at the post-conference symposium on Youth and Education, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Studies in Education, Vancouver, BC.
  • Leveling the playing field in racialized contexts: Leaders speaking out about difficult Issues
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented). 2008 at the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management, Durban, South Africa.
  • Leadership for social justice: Multiple discourses from the literature
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented). 2009 in the symposium Teaching for social justice: Perspectives from the literature, annual meeting of CASEA, Ottawa.
  • A call for engagement: Educational leaders as activists and public intellectuals
    Shields, C. M. (symposium organizer & presenter). 2009 annual meeting of CASEA, Ottawa.
  • Transformative leadership: Effecting socially-just education
    Shields, C. M. (paper presented). 2009 at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Studies in Education (CASEA), Ottawa.
  • What counts as evidence in educational administration
    Shields, C. M. (Invited participant for presentation). 5 2009 at the CASEA senior scholar symposium, Ottawa. 
  • The complexity of difference: Conversation about meeting the needs of marginalized youth in American school
    Shields, C. M. (Invited chair for conservation session) 11 2009 at the annual conference of the University Council for Educational Administration, Anaheim, CA.
  • Le leadership transformatif: Soutenir les écoles défavorisées montréalaises
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote presentation). 5 2010 at the Montreal (francophone) Conference on Underprivileged schools, Montreal, Canada.
  • Commonwealth Conference of Educational Administration and
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote address) 9 2010 Sydney, Australia.
  • Conference on doctoral studies
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote address) 10 2010 Leicester, England.
  • Supporting Quebec’s disadvantaged schools through transformative leadership
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote presentation). 2 2011 at the Montreal (anglophone) Conference on Quebec’s Underprivileged schools, Montreal, Canada
  • Preparing Leaders for Complex Urban Contexts: Challenges and New Directions
    Shields, C. M. 2012 paper presented at the biannual conference of the CCEAM, October, Cyprus.
  • To know is not enough: Engaging in Courageous Conversations
    Shields, C. M. (symposium organizer & presenter). 4 2012 ERA, Vancouver, CA.
  • University Council for Educational Administration
    Shields, C. M. 2013
  • Dialogue as an Educational Leadership Strategy for Impoverished Contexts
    Shields, C. M. 4 2013 AERA, San Francisco, CA.
  • Myth, Fairytale and Educational Equity, Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management
    Shields, C. M. (Invited keynote address) 6 2014 Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management, Fredericton, NB, Canada.
  • Can We Research Leadership for Social Justice in Rigorous and Meaningful Ways?
    Shields, C. M. 2014 Symposium organizer & presenter, AERA
  • Transformative Leadership: A Call to Action
    Shields, C. M. 11 2014 invited presentation at the Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia, November
  • Transformative Leadership: A Call to Action
    Shields, C. M. 10 2014 invited presentation at the University of Denver.
  • Transformative Leadership: Promising Approaches for Educating Impoverished Children
    Shields, C. M. 2014 paper presented at the annual conference of the European Educational Research Association, Porto, Portugal.
  • Using Transformative Leadership to Turn-Around Schools paper presented in symposium Educating Marginalized Children in Inclusive Transcultural Spaces
    Shields, C. M. 11 2015 at the annual conference of the University Council of Educational Administration, San Diego.
  • A Critical Examination of Some Tensions in Educational Leadership: Can a Rigorous Field of Study Address Issues of Social Justice?
    Shields, C. M. 9 2015 Paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Educational Research Conference, Budapest, Hungary.
  • Transformative Leadership as a “Turn-Around” Strategy
    Shields, C. M. 2015 at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Studies in Education, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Lived Experiences and Educational Experiences of Homeless Children: Misconceptions and Challenges for Educational Leaders paper presented in symposium Homelessness Should be no Child’s Heritage: Addressing the Impact of Homelessness in Education
    Shields, C. M. 2015 at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, Chicago,IL.
  • Transformative Leadership - From Technical to Equity Reform: Evolution or Revolution? Paper presented in symposium Theory, History, Debates, and Paradigm Wars: Whence the Field of Educational Administration?
    Shields, C. M. 4 2015 At the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association,Chicago,IL.
  • A transformative case study of superintendent Dr. David Dean: A committed social justice leader
    Shields, C. M. 8 2016 paper presented at the annual conference of the European Educational Research Association, Dublin.
  • Is truly transformative leadership practical or possible? Learning from superintendents
    Shields, C. M. 8 2016 paper presented at the annual conference of the European Educational Research Association, Dublin.
  • Preparing Urban Teachers in a Postindustrial City
    Shields, C. 4 2012 American Educational Research Association
  • To Know Is Not Enough: Engaging in Courageous Conversations for the Good of All
    Shields, C. 4 2012 American Educational Research Association



  •  Can we teach deep democracy: And can it make a difference? In D. Zyngier (Ed.), Can education make a difference? Experimenting with, and experiencing democracy in, education
    *Shields, C. M.* 2011 New York: Peter Lang.elds.
  • Bakhtin’s “novel” proposal: Lessons for educational leaders. In E. J. White & M. A. Peters (Eds.), Bakhtinian pedagogy: Opportunities and challenges for research, policy and practice in education across the globe
    *Shields, C. M.* 2011 ew York: Peter Lang.elds.
  • Creating a community of difference
    *Shields, C. M.* 2004 Educational Leadership, (Non-refereed Contributions) 61(7),
  • Balanced calendars
    Waithmann, M., & *Shields, C. M.* 2004 ommissioned Report for the BC Trustees Association. (Non-refereed Contributions)
  • Schools that like a challenge
    Hamilton, J., Johnston, S., Marshall, J., & *Shields, C. M.* 2006 Educational Leadership, 63(8), (Non-refereed Contributions)
  • Toward an equitable education: Poverty, diversity, and students at risk
    Portelli, J., *Shields, C. M.*, Vibert, A. 2007 Toronto, Canada: BTT Communications. (Non-refereed Contributions)
  • Leadership for ecological justice: An unfulfilled obligation
    Kose, B. W., *Shields, C. M.*, Ibrahim, G. K. 2008 UCEA Review (Non-refereed Contributions) Summer,
  • Leading in the midst of diversity: The challenge of our times. In F. W. English (Ed.), The SAGE handbook of educational leadership: Advances in theory, research, and practice
    *Shields, C. M.*, & Sayani, A. 2005 New York: Sage.
  • Leadership for social justice and democratic community. In W. A. Firestone & C. Riehl (Eds.), A new agenda: Directions for research on educational leadership
    Furman, G. C., & *Shields, C. M.* 2005 New York: Teachers’ College Press.
  • Overcoming disparity: Repositioning leadership to challenge the conceptual underpinnings of antiracist education. In E. W. Ross (Ed.), Race, ethnicity and education: Racism and antiracism in education
    *Shields, C. M.*, & Bishop, R. (Invited chapter). 2006 Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.
  • Doing time: Debates and tensions in schooling. In W. Ross & S. Matheson (Eds.), Encyclopedia: Battleground schools
    *Shields, C. M.*, & Oberg, S. L. (Invited chapter). 2007 Westport, CT: Greenwood.