Pauline Sameshima, BEd (Elem) ’88, Dip (Ed) ’91, PhD ’06


Pauline Sameshima, BEd (Elem) ’88, Dip (Ed) ’91, PhD ’06Pauline Sameshima is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies at Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, ON. She is an artist, poet, and writer. Working across disciplines, Pauline’s creative research methods seek to respond to pressing calls for Canada to nurture and develop creativity and innovation capacity by leveraging broad interdisciplinary approaches.

When she graduated from UBC with a PhD in curriculum and pedagogy, Pauline was the recipient of the Gordon and Marion Smith Prize in Art Education for most promising artist and educator. She went on to win the UBC Ted T. Aoki Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in Curriculum Studies and three national, and international awards across educational disciplinary fields for her dissertation, written in the form of a novel. Seeing Red was published in 2007. Pauline has received numerous awards for research, teaching, and civic engagement.

Pauline was a Vancouver Churchill High School graduate. She worked as a classroom and head-teacher in the Burnaby School District for 17 years, was hired into a tenure track job in mathematics at Washington State University (WSU), then returned to Canada to take up the CRC at Lakehead. While at WSU, she spearheaded the arts integrated pre-service teacher program and was very involved in the research through the arts communities in the US and in Canada. Her collaborative research model framework, Parallaxic Praxis, has been taken up in research projects ranging from HIV research, interpersonal violence, mental health care, dementia studies, technology and inclusive education, knowledge generation, literacy, and more. Her latest award-winning book is Poetic Inquiry: Enchantment of Place, co-edited by Alexandra Fidyk, University of Alberta, and Kedrick James and Carl Leggo, both of UBC.

Pauline is certified in SomaYoga instruction (RYT 500) and Level 1 Yoga Therapy (International SomaYoga Institute); She is curator of Lakehead Education Research Galleries; and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies.

Meeting Pauline Sameshima

What is your most memorable experience from your time in the Faculty of Education at UBC?

Hmmm. I’ve been in an out of the Scarfe Building since 1989. Even though I work at Lakehead, I still have meetings in the building working with colleagues and students there. I did my Bachelor of Education, a Diploma in Visual and Performing Arts, and a PhD at UBC. If I had to choose the top pleasures, I’d say, first, cinnamon buns, then two summer courses by visiting professors–one on role drama and one on ecological identity; a course by Dr. Lynn Fels on Performative Inquiry, Dr. Rita Irwin’s course on a/r/tography; and most significantly, a narrative inquiry course I took with Dr. Carl Leggo. These courses shaped my thinking significantly and have been foundational to the work I do now. My dissertation committee members, Dr. Anthony Clarke, Dr. Carl Leggo, Dr. Rita Irwin, and Dr. J. Gary Knowles formed an incredible dissertation committee team. The guidance, support, and freedom they offered me in pursuing an alternative dissertation format opened the doors for seeing how genre and format can impact possibilities not only in what can be researched, what can be said, but also how research can become available to broader communities. Dr. Leggo remains my deepest mentor.

Where has your education from the Faculty of Education taken you in your career?

The courses I took in the Faculty of Education were foundational to my current position as Canada Research Chair in Arts Integrated Studies. The courses I mentioned above and the resulting dissertation set a path for my interest in thinking about how the arts “work” as a research tool that an be thought of as a doorway. My work since graduating from UBC aims to expand notions of creativity, reparative research, community engagement, and social innovation. I am particularly interested in:

  • how the arts can catalyze creative innovation;
  • how the arts can generate understandings about data;
  • how the arts can provoke new dialogues among researchers as well as participants; and
  • how the arts can teach multiple audiences in different ways.

Where do issues of inclusion find a place in your life or at work?

Equity and access are the keys to inclusion. If I look across the research projects I’m currently involved in, they are all focused on how doors can be opened, not just through research methodologies, but through participants, the communities they are in, through knowledge mobilization avenues, and through policy change. For example, in one of my cross disciplinary projects lead by Dr. Helle Møller (Lakehead Dept. of Health Sciences), our goal is to understand, from women’s perspectives, the experiences, needs, preferences, and challenges pregnant women in Northwestern Ontario face in relation to pre-conception, pre, peri- and post-natal knowledge and education. When we research questions such as: What facilitates or hinders women’s access to the knowledge/information about preconception and prenatal health, pregnancy, and birthing they feel they need?, we find that the availability of prenatal education programming, distance and access to transportation, childcare, timing of the programming, and “fitting in” all determine how women can be included in this programming.

Do you have any words of wisdom for current students? Any advice for newly graduated folks?

Wisdom? I don’t know about wisdom. . . As I think about my career from beginning teacher education at UBC at 18 and now working as a full professor and CRC, I think I could have tried to be less worried about things that just needed time. The education students want to graduate and find a job. The tenure track professor wants to get tenured. We all want to move quickly to the next milestone. When I’m worrying about something, my mother says to try not to force things, to let things happen. That is the best advice. You cannot force a garden to grow, only tend it, nurture it, and breathe.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
Aldous Huxley, The Island