Carolyn Shields

Professor College of Education
Phone: (313) 577-1692

Areas of expertise

achievement gap
Educational Leadership
Equity and Inclusion
Social Justice


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:

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.


I support human, cultural, and intellectual diversity within an inclusive environment that encourages research and program development advancing the field of 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.


Refereed Contributions – Books:

Shields, C. M. (2009) Courageous leadership for transforming schools: Democratizing practice. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

Shields, C. M. (2007). Bakhtin. New York: Peter Lang. 

Shields, C. M., Edwards, M. M., & Sayani, A. (Eds.). (2005). Inspiring practice: Spirituality and educational leadership. Lancaster, PA: Pro Active.

Shields, C. M., Bishop, R., & Mazawi, A. E. (2005). Pathologizing practices: The impact of deficit thinking on education. New York: Peter Lang.

Shields, C. M., & Edwards, M. M. (2005). Dialogue is not just talk: A new ground for educational leadership. New York: Peter Lang. (translated into Mandarin, 2009).

Shields, C. M. (2003). Good intentions are not enough. Transformative leadership for communities of difference. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. 

Refereed Articles (past 10 years):

Shields, C. M. (2010). Transformative leadership: Working for equity in diverse contexts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 46(4), 558-589.

Shields, C. M., & Warke, A. (2010). The invisible crisis: Connecting schools with homeless families. Journal of School Leadership, 20(5).

Kose, B. W., & Shields, C. M. (2010). Ecological and social justice: A leadership framework for sustainability. The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, 6(3), 275-288.

Shields, C. M. (2009). Leveling the playing field in racialized contexts: Leaders speaking out about difficult issues. International Journal of Educational Administration, 37(3), 55-70.

Shields, C. M., & Mohan, E. (2008). High quality education for all students: Putting social justice at its heart. Teacher Development, 12(4), 289-300.

Shields, C. M. (2007). A failed initiative: Democracy has spoken - or has it? Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 10(1), 14-21.

Fraser, D., & Shields, C. M. (2006). Spiritual daring: Paradox and educational leadership. New Zealand Journal of Educational Leadership, 21(1).

Hamilton, J., Johnston, S., Marshall, J., & Shields, C. M. (2006). Schools that like a challenge. Educational Leadership, 63(8), 72-73, (EJ745613).

Shields. C. M. (2006). Creating spaces for values-based conversations: The role of school leaders in the 21st century. International Journal of Educational Administration, 34(2), 62-81.

Shields, C. M. (2005). Hopscotch, jump-rope or boxing: Understanding power in educational leadership. International Studies in Educational Administration [special issue], 33(2).

Shields, C. M. (2005). Liberating discourses: Spirituality and educational leadership. Journal of School Leadership, 15, 608-623.

Shields, C. M. (2004). Good intentions are not enough: Leadership for social justice and academic excellence. New Zealand Journal of Educational Leadership, 19, 7-20. 

Shields, C.M. (2003). Dialogic leadership for social justice: Overcoming pathologies of silence. Educational Administrative Quarterly, XI(1), 111-134. 

Shields, C.M. (2003). Giving “voice” to students: Using the internet for data collection. Journal of Qualitative Research.  

Vibert, A.B., & Shields, C. M. (2003). Approaches to student engagement: Does ideology matter? McGill Journal of Education, 38(2), 221-240.

Ashmore, R., & Shields, C. M. (2002). The achievement gap. A comparison of Anglo and Navajo student writing samples. Planning and Changing, 33(1/2), 91-105.

Shields, C.M. (2002). A comparison study of student attitudes and perceptions in homogeneous and heterogeneous classrooms. Roeper Review [reprint of outstanding articles from past], 24(3), 115-119. 

Shields, C.M. (2002). Focusing a crowded leadership agenda: Social justice and academic excellence. New ZealandJournal of Educational Leadership, 17(1-96), 33-45. 

Shields, C. M., LaRocque, L. J., & Oberg, S. L. (2002). A conversation about race and ethnicity: Struggling to understand issues in cross-cultural leadership. Journal of School Leadership, 12(2), 116-137.

Vibert, A. B., Portelli, J. P., Shields, C. M., & LaRocque, L. (2002). Critical practice in elementary schools: Curriculum of life, voice, and community. Journal of Educational Change, 3(2), 93-116. 

Oberg, S. L., & Shields, C. M. (2001). Francis Howell School District: Lessons about change from year-round schooling’s best kept secret. Planning and Changing, 31(3/4), 148-165.

Shields, C. M., & Oberg, S. L. (2001). The role of choice in school reform: Site-based design of year-round schooling for the 21st century. Canadian Journal of Education, 25(1), 27-40.

Book Chapters (Authored and Co-Authored, past 10 years):


Shields, C. M. (in press). Bakhtin’s “novel” proposal: Lessons for educational leaders. 

Shields, C. M. (in press). Critical advocacy research: An approach whose time has come. In Steinberg, S.  R., & Canella, G. S. (Eds.), Critical qualitative research reader. New York: Peter Lang Publisher.

Shields, C. M. (2011). 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., (invited chapter). Transformative leadership.  In E. Baker, P. Peterson, & B. McGaw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Shields, C. M. (2009, invited chapter). Leading in contexts of diversity. In S. R. Steinberg (Ed.), Diversity: A Reader. New York: Peter Lang Publisher.

Shields, C. M. Introducing Erica Mohan: A reflection and commentary on Mohan, E. J. (2009). Inclusivity and the changing face of Canadian schools: Compendium of Canadian research. 

Shields, C. M. (2009, invited chapter). Leading justly in a complex world. In C. Boske & A. Tooms, (Eds.), Bridge leadership: Connecting educational leadership and social justice to improve schools. (PB) (Educational Leadership for Social Justice) Information Age Publishing.

Shields, C. M. (2009, invited chapter). Roles, rights, and responsibilities in American educational governance: Paradoxes and challenges. In C. Riches & F. J. Benson (Eds.), Engaging in conversation about ideas in teacher education. New York: Peter Lang Publisher.

Shields, C. M. (invited response). Response to Dr. Peter Grimmett’s The governance of Canadian teacher education: A macro-political perspective. In C. Riches & F. J. Benson (Eds.), Engaging in conversation about ideas in teacher education. New York: Peter Lang Publisher.

Shields, C. M. (invited case commentary). Blindsided. Ethical leadership: Fostering ethical knowledge through professional inquiry. Ontario College of Teachers, Quebec, QC, Canada: Laval Press.

Shields, C. M. (2007). What is a good school? In W. Hare & J. P. Portelli (Eds.), Key questions for educators. San Francisco, CA: Caddo Gap Press. 97-100. (American publication, first published in Canada 2005-2006).  

Shields, C. M. (2007, invited chapter). What’s a researcher to do? Insights for “post-anything” researchers. In F. W. English & G. C. Furman (Eds.),  Gauging the impact of scientific research on understanding educational leadership. UCEA Monograph Series. 

Shields, C. M. (2005, invited chapter). School leadership in the 21st century: Broadening the base. In W. K. Hoy & C. Miskel (Eds.), Educational leadership and reform. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. 

Shields, C. M. (2005, invited chapter). What is a good school? In W. Hare & J. P. Portelli (Eds.), Key questions for educators(pp. 77-79). Halifax, NS: Edphil Books. 

Shields, C. M. (2005). Taking account of spirituality: Should educational leaders care? In C. M. Shields, M. M. Edwards, & A. Sayani (Eds.), Inspiring practices: Spirituality and educational leadership (pp. 3-16). Lancaster, PA: Pro>Active. 

Shields, C. M. (2005). Spirituality: A foundation for educational leadership. In C. M. Shields, M. E. Edwards, & A. Sayani (Eds.), Inspiring practices: Spirituality and educational leadership (pp. xv-xxii). New York: Pro>Active.

Shields, C. M. (2005). Conclusion: Spiritually imbued educational leadership. In C. M. Shields, M. E. Edwards, & A. Sayani (Eds.), Inspiring practices: Spirituality and educational leadership (pp. 225-240). New  York: Pro>Active.

Shields, C. M. (2003). Leadership for communities of difference: Thinking about leading in diverse schools, Chapter 7. In K. Leithwood (Ed.), Second international handbook of educational leadership and administration. (pp. 209-244). Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 

Shields, C. M. (2002). Listening to educators: Insights into building more inclusive school communities, Chapter 6. In G. Furman-Brown (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 143-163). New York: SUNY.

Shields, C. M. (2002). Learning from Navajo students: Issues in the development of community, Chapter 8. In G. Furman-Brown (Ed.), School as community: From promise to practice (pp. 197-215). New York: SUNY.


Shields, C. M., & Requa, D. (invited chapter). Minoritized youth experiences in the (micro) policy context of U.S. schools. In P. Carr & B. J. Porfilio (Eds.), Youth culture, education and resistance: Subverting the commercial ordering of life. Boston, MA: Sense Publishers.

Fraser, D., & Shields, C. M. (invited chapter). Leaders’ roles in disrupting dominant discourses and promoting inclusion. In A. L. Edmunds & R. B. MacMillan (Eds.), Leadership for inclusion: A practical guide. Boston, MA: Sense Publishers.

Shields, C. M., & Oberg, S. L. (2009, invited chapter). Balanced calendar schools: A case for combining structural change and transformative leadership. In C. Kneese & C. Balinger (Eds.), Balancing the school calendar: Perspectives from the public and stakeholders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Shields, C. M., & Oberg, S. L. (2007, invited chapter). Doing time: Debates and tensions in schooling. In W. Ross & S. Matheson (Eds.), Encyclopedia: Battleground schools. Westport, CT: Greenwood. 

Shields, C. M., & Bishop, R. (2006, invited chapter). 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 (pp. 301-318). Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood.

Furman, G. C., & Shields, C. M. (2005, (invited chapter). Leadership for social justice and democratic community. In W. A. Firestone & C. Riehl (Eds.), A new agenda: Directions for research on educational leadership. New York: Teachers’ College Press. 

Shields, C. M., & Sayani, A. (2005). 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 (pp. 380-402). New York: Sage.

Papers Presented at Scholarly Meetings or Conferences (past 10 years):

Shields, C. M. (2011 February). Supporting Quebec’s disadvantaged schools through transformative leadership. Invited keynote presentation at the Montreal (anglophone) Conference on Quebec’s Underprivileged schools, Montreal, Canada.

Shields, C. M. (2010 October). Invited keynote address, conference on doctoral studies, Leicester, England. 

Shields, C. M. (2010 September). Invited keynote address, Commonwealth Conference of Educational Administration and Management, Sydney, Australia. 

Shields, C. M. (2010 May). Le leadership transformatif: Soutenir les écoles défavorisées montréalaises. Invited keynote presentation at the Montreal (francophone) Conference on Underprivileged schools, Montreal, Canada.

Shields, C. M. (2009 November). The complexity of difference: Conversation about meeting the needs of marginalized youth in American schools. Invited chair for conversation session presented at the annual conference of the University Council for Educational Administration, Anaheim, CA. 

Shields, C. M. (2009 May). What counts as evidence in educational administration. Invited participant for presentation at the CASEA senior scholar symposium, Ottawa.  

Shields, C. M. (2009). Transformative leadership: Effecting socially-just education, paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Studies in Education (CASEA), Ottawa. 

Shields, C. M. (2009). A call for engagement: Educational leaders as activists and public intellectuals, symposium organizer and presenter, annual meeting of CASEA, Ottawa. 

Shields, C. M., Mohan, E. J. (2009). Leadership for social justice: Multiple discourses from the literature. Paper presented in the symposium Teaching for social justice: Perspectives from the literature, annual meeting of CASEA, Ottawa.

Shields, C. M. (2008). Leveling the playing field in racialized contexts: Leaders speaking out about difficult Issues, paper presented at the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management, Durban, South Africa.

Shields, C. M. (2008). Rethinking Youth Identity in the (Micro)Policy Context of US schools, presented 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. (invited paper)

Shields, C. M. (2008). Engaged and transformative leadership: Working equitably in diverse contexts. Paper presented at the International Conference on Educational Leadership in Cultural Diversity and Globalization, Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand. April.

Shields, C. M. (2007). Combating the backlash to social justice. Paper presented (and symposium organized) at the annual conference of the University Council for Educational Administration, Alexandria, VA. 

Shields, C. M. (2007). Pedagogies at risk. Symposium presentation at the annual conference of the American Educational Studies Association, Cleveland, OH.

Shields, C. M. (2006). A study of two leaders: Promoting diversity and school improvement. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Keynote Addresses and Public Lectures:

Shields, C. M., (2009, Sept.). Le leadership transformatif. Presentation sponsored by the CRIRES Research group, Laval University. 

Shields, C. M., (2009, April). Invited discussant, Symposium: The education of multiracial students: Theory, pedagogy, and policy, given at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), San Diego, CA. 

Shields. C. M. (2008). Is there a relationship between social justice and school calendars? University of Illinois, Psychology Department lecture series.

Shields, C. M. (2006, December). The chips are stacked against us. Invited keynote for the annual leadership conference, Illinois State University, Normal, IL.

Shields, C. M. (2006). The potential of balanced calendars to foster equity. A presentation made to the Conseil Francophone Scolaire, Ottawa (also a presentation in 2005).

Shields, C. M. (2005, March). History, identity, and social justice. A presentation made (with slight modifications) to four universities in France (Strasbourg, Lyon, Toulouse, Tours).

Shields, C. M. (2005). Good Intentions are not enough: Leadership for social justice and academic excellence. Invited Keynote, New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Shields, C. M. (2003). Flexible calendars: What does the research say? Invited keynote, UBC School Leadership Centre inaugural symposium. 

Non-refereed Contributions in Professional or Trade Journals, Non-refereed Articles):

Kose, B. W., Shields, C. M., Ibrahim, G. K. (2008). Leadership for ecological justice: An unfulfilled obligation. UCEA Review, Summer, 5-9. 

Portelli, J., Shields, C. M., Vibert, A. (2007). Toward an equitable education: Poverty, diversity, and students at risk. Toronto, Canada: BTT Communications.

Hamilton, J., Johnston, S., Marshall, J., & Shields, C. M. (2006). Schools that like a challenge. Educational Leadership, 63(8), 72-73. (EJ745613)

Waithmann, M., & Shields, C. M. (2004). Balanced calendars. Commissioned Report for the BC Trustees Association.

Shields, C.M. (2004). Creating a community of difference. Educational Leadership, 61(7), 38-41. 

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)


To Know Is Not Enough: Engaging in Courageous Conversations for the Good of All
Shields, C. 2012   American Educational Research Association
Preparing Urban Teachers in a Postindustrial City
Shields, C. 2012   American Educational Research Association


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


2009                Recipient, Distinguished Service Award (career contributions) presented by the Canadian Association for Studies in Educational Administration, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 

Recipient, Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, College of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 

2004                Elected Fellow of the Commonwealth Council of Educational Administration and Management.

2000                Recipient Liebman Book Award for Shields, C. M. & Oberg, S. L. (2000). Year-round schooling: Promises and pitfalls.