Shamini Dias

Shamini Dias

AREA OF RESEARCH: Imagination and mindfulness in teacher education, complexity, futures thinking for leadership in teaching and learning

What draws you to this area of research?

My undergraduate work and Masters degree in literature, philosophy and linguistics gave me a deep sense of how the world is moving towards more and more complex ways of being. My work as an educator in both school and corporate contexts has built on this background and made me very concerned about the need to really understand how and why people engage optimally in learning and how we need to change the way we design learning environments, the way we train teachers, and the way we think about the purpose of education, especially because we live today in the very middle of a paradigm shift. Education in a shifting paradigm is both challenging and exciting and my research asks questions that I hope will move education into a more future-oriented perspective that will help us take action today.

I am part of a transdiscipinary research team on Knowledge Management that has been funded by the Transdisciplinary Reading Groups and Hillcrest awards and conduct research with my team on the interaction between technology and learning. I am also an RA on a research project funded by the Spencer foundation and run by Professors Jeanne Nakamura and Mike Csikszentmihalyi at the Quality of Life Research Center, SBOS, where we’re studying mentoring across different professional domains. Both these research groups have richly supported my research interests in allowing me to work across disciplines.

Would you like to collaborate?


Areas for collaboration (research studies, publishing, conference presentations, etc.)

Research, writing and publishing, conference presentations, arts-based education at any level of teaching and learning, projects involving schools, parents, and communities.

Would you say your research is Transdisciplinary?


I am currently part of a transdisciplinary research group studying knowledge management as understood from the perspectives of business, organizational development/learning organizations, learning and education, and information science.

The research for my dissertation in teacher education looks at motivation, resilience and learning engagement, imagination, leadership, systems theory, complexity science, and the neurology of mindfulness training and development.

Publications / Presentations


  • 2010: Postmodern picture books: Pathways to multiliteracies in a new knowledge paradigm. 17th International Conference on Learning, Hong Kong; 6 – 9th July
  • 2009 Holistic accountability: Creative arts and storymaking in nurturing success oriented identities. First Social Justice Conference, CSU Channel Islands.
  • 2005 Dramatic Arts for Literacy Development. Bi-annual International Reading Association LITCON Conferences, Penang, Malaysia
  • 2003 Storymaking for literacy development. Southern California Story Swap, CSU, San Bernardino
  • 2003 Drama, storytelling and learning. Bi-annual International Reading Association LITCON Conferences, Penang, Malaysia
  • 2002. Drama for literacy workshop. NAEYC annual conference, New York City, NY, and Teacher Education Seminar, Montclair University, New Jersey
  • 2001 Dramatic, creative approaches to teaching grammar. ACEI Conference, Toronto
  • 2001.Drama for learning workshop.  Wheelock College Playing For Keeps Conference, BAEYC Professional Development Teacher’s Workshop (Boston), Teacher’s Seminar at Montclair State University, New Jersey.



  • Postmodern picture books: Pathways to multiliteracies in a new knowledge paradigm. International Journal of Learning, 17

Future goals as a scholar

I aim to be a scholar-practitioner; I want to carry on developing the research directions I am developing, but I want to have a strong connection to learning communities. As an international student I am very open to options both in the United States and elsewhere in the world. I’d like to publish for 2 audiences – teachers and parents on the one hand, and my research peers on the other. My ultimate goal is to run a research /action-research space that is also a literacy centre for a community, where parents, children and teachers participate, and where researchers and educators can collaborate to improve and devleop ideas for effective teaching and learning.

Must-read books or articles in your field

  • Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society – Peter Senge
  • Democracy and Education – John Dewey
  • The Power of Partnership – Riane Eisler
  • Reimagining Schools – Elliot Eisner
  • An Imaginative Approach to Teaching – Kieran Egan
  • Social Foundations of Thought and Action – Albert Bandura
  • The Three Questions – Jon Muth
  • Consilience: The unity of knowledge – Edmund O. Wilson

Helpful resources at CGU

  • Honnold-Mudd Library – the research librarians are super helpful.
  • Honnold Online Resources - database searches, electronic journals, Refworks (also great workshops on how to use refworks – say goodbye to manually getting your reference list together!)
  • CGU Writing Center – amazing place to get help with writing, brainstorming ideas for papers, practising presentations, getting study skills ideas. If you’re in dissertation phase they have a wonderful dissertation support group and regular dissertation boot camps.
  • School of Educational Studies webpage for students – a one-stop space with information about students, events, news, and administrative info we need to get through our programme

Helpful resources outside of CGU (blogs, websites, social networking sites, etc. that connect with your areas of research)

  • New Horizons for Learning is a non-profit, international network of educators focused on identifying, communicating, and implementing the most effective teaching and learning strategies at all ages and abilities.
  • A wonderful drama in education site. Drama in education remains my favourite mode for teaching and its principles of how we approach learning figures strongly in my research on teaching and learning, and on teacher training programmes. Mantle of the Expert is a dramatic-inquiry based approach to teaching and learning invented and developed by Professor Dorothy Heathcote at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1980’s. This is drama that begins without a script, where the teacher facilitates the thinking, imagination, group collaboration and improvisation to develop ideas and narratives of action. There are some great video clips of Dorothy Heathcote in action here.
  • Everyone should read Kieran Egan’s work – he is an imaginative, passionate and brilliant scholar and advocate for positive changes in education
  • The Positive Psychology Center promotes research, training, education, and the dissemination of Positive Psychology. This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.