Dr Shari Sabeti

Reader in Arts and Humanities Education


After completing my PhD in English Literature in 1999, I undertook a teacher education qualification and worked as a secondary teacher of English in London and then Edinburgh. I moved to the School of Education, University of Stirling in 2010 to take up a post as a Lecturer in Education. I worked on the Initial Teacher Education programme and was responsible for students specialising in English. I moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2013 initially as a Chancellor's Fellow to focus on research. 


  • MA (Hons) First Class, English, University of Cambridge, 1994
  • MA with Distinction, English and American Literature, University College London, 1995
  • PhD English Literature, University of Cambridge, 1999
  • PGCE Secondary English, Institute of Education, University of London, 2002

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am Course Organiser for The Anthropology of Education and Learning (MSc Education).

I am part of the following UoE Centres and Networks:

Postgraduate teaching

  • Course Organiser: The Anthropology of Education and Learning,  MSc Education (Comparative Education and International Development)
  • Course Organiser: Assessing What Matters, MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching
  • Course Organiser: English Specialism 1, MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching
  • Course Organiser: English Specialism 2, MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am not currently accepting any more PhD students.

In general I am interested in receiving applications from prospective PhD students on topics such as:

  • arts and cultural heritage education (including museums, literature, visual arts, community arts, curriculum issues)
  • creative practice of artists, artist-educators and writers 
  • creative writing pedagogies
  • decolonizing approaches to education
  • anthropology of/and education
  • literacy in socio-cultural contexts
  • education in the Pacific region/Pacific diaspora

I supervise students who use the following methodological approaches:

  • ethnography and/or auto ethnography
  • arts-based methodologies
  • participatory research methodologies, e.g. CBPR
  • decolonizing methodologies
  • post qualitative/new materialist methodologies

Current PhD students supervised

  • Argyris Karapitsanis - Learning through Process Drama in Museums and Galleries. Co-Supervisor with Nicola MacCartney (English Literature ).
  • Sarah Austin - Teacher Education in an Ethiopian Refugee Camp - An Ethnography. Co-Supervisor with Jingy Li (Education) and J.B. Falisse (African Studies).
  • Huaiyuan (Simon) Huang - Identity and Citizenship Education amongst Ethnic Koreans in North East China. Co-supervised with Jingyi Li (Education).
  • Barbara Becnel - Culture of the Condemned: A Critique of How Death Row Became a Symbol of Heroism for America's Street-Gang Generation. Co-supervised with Callum McGregor (Education) and Richard Sparks (Law).
  • Alkisti Kallinikou - Exploration of myth, folklore and childhood in contemporary young adult fiction. Co-Supervised with Sarah Dunnigan (English Literature).
  • Zarina Muminova - Parental Engagement in Children's Early Learning in Rural Tajikistan (First Supervisor).
  • Yejin Shin - The Education of North Korean refugees in South Korean Religious Schools. Co-Supervised with Magnus Course (Social Anthropology).
  • Priyanka Jha - Creators in the Classroom. AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with University of Glasgow and Scottish Book Trust. Co-supervised with Mel Ramardashan Bold and Katherine Wilkinson.
  • Lis Angerer - Leadership and the Ecological Crisis
  • Yu Wang - Speculative design with generative AI: future forms of collaborative imagination and interdisciplinary interaction.
  • Sita de Kam - The Artistic Empowerment of the (future) Teacher

Past PhD students supervised

Jennifer Roberts  (PhD) An Ethnographic Study of how Gender Inequality is reproduced through Schooling in Scotland.

Xin Luo (PhD) Parenting in Modern China: an ethnographic exploration of Early Years Education through WeChat. 

Patrick Boxall (MSc by Research) Forest Schools and Concepts of Creativity.

Carolyn Cooke (PhD) Troubling Music Initial Teacher Education.

Linsha Zhou (PhD) - Teacher Identity and Creativity

Dandan Chen - The impact of Visual arts based methods in second language acquisition: intertwining illustration in a L2 classroom instructed setting.

Research summary

My research focuses on arts, humanities and cultural heritage education and has taken place in a variety of locales including schools, museums, community and commercial contexts. My main focus has been on artistic and creative processes from two perspectives: firstly, artists or artist-educators; secondly, those who you undertake arts education. My research is driven by anthropological perspectives on educational theory and creative practice, as well as ethnographic and arts-based methodologies. 

Current research interests

Decolonizing approaches to education and educational research Museum education, public pedagogy and the ways in which museum and gallery visitors experience art works. Literature, Creative Writing, Performance Poetry and their pedagogies; Relationships between education, heritage and the curriculum, including in displaced and diasporic communities; Education in Global South Contexts, in particular the Pacific Islands - Marshall Islands and Samoa. New Literacies; reading practices; children's literature and multimodal adaptation.

Knowledge exchange

  •  National Galleries of Scotland Research Conference, Edinburgh, October 2013. Title of paper: ‘Feeling fifty years younger’: creativity, ageing and the arts. 
  • Blog for Scottish Book Trust on my work with adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Interviewed for a film commissioned by Creative Scotland, Luminate and the Care Inspectorate about arts engagement and its value to those in later life, March 2016.
  • Presentation to Teachers and Librarians for Royal Society of Edinburgh WorkshopSeries on ‘Neuroscience and Narrative’, Glasgow, June 2016.
  • Anthropology for teachers workshop at MHSE –  with SQA 2017 and anthropology departments throughout Scotland.
  • Presentation to teachers at Central Middle School, Honolulu, HI– Using graphic novels to teach about migration and displacement, April 2017.
  • Workshop with teachers and teacher trainees at University of the South Pacific, Majuro, Marshall Islands – What kinds of resources do teachers in the RMI need and how can we build them? April 2017.
  • Symposium: The Marshallese Arts Project.University of the South Pacific, Majuro, Marshall Islands. Attended by teachers, teacher educators, major stakeholders (Ministry of Education, Alele Museum, International Organisation for Migration etc). Presentation of research findings and their implications. November, 2017.
  • Workshop for Teachers and Teacher Educators. University of the South Pacific, Majuro, Marshall Islands. Progress of resources made by Marshallese Arts Research Project so far. How might they be used and what kinds of pedagogic training/further resources would be useful? November 2017.
  • Presentation at University of Hawai’i, Hilo for academics and Marshallese community members. The Marshallese Arts Project, with Dr. Polly Atatoa Carr, University of Waikato, November 2017.
  • Led a three week Professional Development Programme for 4 teachers, and one government official from the Marshall Islands, at Moray House School of Education. March 2019.
  • Animation and Film Making workshopsfor students in Ebaye, Marshall Islands, Majuro Middle School and Laura High School in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Working with artists: Munro Te Whata and Jack Niedenthal. April – May, 2019.
  • Meetings and presentations at Ministry of Education, Majuro, Marshall Islands, and with Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (both partners on an AHRC Follow on Funding application) – building resources for teachers. May, 2019.
  • Workshops in Graphic Storytelling and Creative Writing, school children and university students, National University of Samoa, Apia, May 2019.
  • 'Healthy Ageing through the Arts', Healthy Ageing in India Conference for academics and stakeholders, UoE, UKRI GCRF, SCPHRP, MIDS, July 2021.


Affiliated research centres

Project activity

My research interests have arisen from a broad concern with cultural heritage, visual cultures, practices of reading and writing, and both formal and informal learning. In particular, my work explores the boundaries between the arts and humanities and educational processes, as well as how these intersect with anthropological ways of understanding culture and practice. I have worked on musuem education, the teaching of literature, and the potentials of arts education programmes to build community, identity and resilience. This has included work in schools with young people, as well as with older adult learners. I have a strong interest in educational research that is inter-generational and in participatory research processes. My work is largley qualitative with a focus on ethnographic and visual methodologies.


Current Projects:

'Remediating Stevenson: Decolonizing Robert Louis Stevenson's Pacific Fiction through graphic adaptation, arts education and community engagement.' 

This three year AHRC project explores the legacy of Stevenson's writing to contemporary communities in Samoa (where Stevenson lived and worked for the last few years of his life), Hawai'i and Scotland. The project will result in new art and poetry inspired by the three short stories published in Stevenson's 1893 collection ‘Island Nights' Entertainments’. These include 'The Bottle Imp' and 'The Isle of Voices' - both set in Hawai'i - and 'The Beach of Falesá', rooted in Stevenson's experience of Samoan culture.

Stevenson’s Pacific work and legacy present a particularly valuable focus of inquiry, given that educational institutions throughout the world are actively engaged in decolonising their curricula. Stevenson became actively involved in supporting Samoan and Hawaiian indigenous sovereignty movements at a crucial period just before these islands were annexed by the US and Germany, and yet his Pacific fiction, while iconoclastic in featuring indigenous protagonists with considerable agency and dignity and offering a critical proto-modernist analysis of western imperialism, still upholds many of the colonial stereotypes typical of fin-de-siecle western literature.

In partnership with Hawaiian, Samoan and Scottish educators and NGOs, the research will engage directly and extensively with contemporary members of the indigenous communities depicted in his fiction, involving them in every stage of the research process through Community Based Participatory Research.

The research will situate graphic adaptations, and Stevenson's original stories, within the multimodal context in which Stevenson was working in the late Nineteenth Century, by producing an edited collection of essays, project poetry and interviews with project artists; journal articles; and material on the project website. In particular, the research will analyse the relationship between Stevenson's fiction and his Pacific travel writing; ethnography; historiography; photography; letters and painting.


'Our Time is a Garden': crafting alternative pedagogical spaces for women and non-binary writers of colour in Scotland. 

The aim of the project is to explore the potential of alternative educational spaces in the development of community, identity and belonging in writers of colour across Scotland. It is a collaboration between Moray House School of Education and Sport, IASH Postdoctoral Fellow, Alycia Pirmohammed and the Scottish BPOC Writers Network. 



Recent Projects:

I completed (2017) a project and monograph on museum education, creative writing workshops and older adult learning. I am interested in the public pedagogy of museums and the role that art objects play in educational processes. In particular, I have been exploring the notion of 'creativity' and 'inspiration'. I am currently working on an ethnographic project with an adult creative writing class and exploring arts-based educational practice, creativity and their relationship to concepts of 'self' and 'temporality'. 



Most recently I have been working on an ESRC/AHRC Global Challenges project based in the Marshall Islands to explore the potentials of arts education and community-led arts production in building resilience. The project involves a series of participatory arts workshops to generate new understandings of the unique historical trajectories and community development needs of Marshall Islanders who have been forcibly displaced from their ancestral homelands from the Second World War to the present day. By involving Marshallese children, their extended families, and trainee schoolteachers, the project will investigate a range of experiences and perspectives, from survivors of the Cold-War nuclear testing era to young people whose families have migrated to urban centres in search of a better standard of living.



Current project grants

'Remediating Stevenson: Decolonizing Robert Louis Stevenson's Pacific Fiction through graphic adaptation, arts education and community engagement'. AHRC Standard Grant. Sum awarded: £1m. for three year project beginning 1st July 2022 (with Michelle Keown, LLC UoE and Simon Grennan, University of Chester).

Past project grants

• 2022 Co-investigator, ‘Remediating Stevenson: Decolonising Robert Louis Stevenson’s Pacific Fiction through graphic adaptation, arts education and community engagement’. AHRC Standard Grant. Sum awarded: £1,000,000. Grant Period: July 2022 – June 2025

• 2020-21 Co-investigator, ‘Universal Access to Secondary Education in the Asia-Pacific Region’. Global Challenges Research Fund/Scottish Funding Council. Sum awarded: £26, 540

• 2020 Co-investigator, ‘Navigating the nuclear legacy: bilingual education resources for Marshallese Schools and Communities.’ University of Edinburgh Global Impact Accelerator Account. Sum awarded: £20,000 [funded the publication of 500 copies of the Marshallese translation of Jerakiaarlap, a graphic novel produced from our ‘Forced Displacement GCRF Award, for free distribution to Marshallese educators, accompanied by a teaching resource pack].

• 2019 Co-investigator, ‘Remediating Stevenson in Samoa: an arts education project.’ Global Challenges Research Fund LMIC Travel and Partnership Fund. To establish and strengthen viable research partnerships with a view to an AHRC application. Sum awarded: £3,350

• 2018-19 Co-investigator, ‘Navigating Futures: arts education as a route to youth empowerment and pedagogical innovation.’ AHRC Follow on Funding. Sum awarded: £99,997

• 2018-19 Co-investigator, ‘Navigating Futures: empowering Marshallese youth and educators through arts education in the Marshall Islands’, GCRF Global Impact Accelerator Account.
Sum Awarded: £43,160 [funded CPD internships for Marshallese schoolteachers at Edinburgh University; and the publication of a volume of Marshallese children’s poetry/art, and the
translation into Marshallese of a graphic novel, produced from the ‘Forced Displacement’ GCRF project.]

• 2018-19 Principal Investigator, ‘Promoting understandings of Marshallese history, culture and migration in Hawaiian schools.’ University of Edinburgh Knowledge Exchange and Impact Grant. Sum awarded: £5,000

• 2016-17 Co-Investigator, ‘From Displacement to Development: arts education as a means by which to build cultural resilience and community-led arts production in the Marshall Islands.’ ESRC/AHRC GCRF. Sum awarded: £299,990

• 2015-6 Principal Investigator, ‘Comic Book Praxis and the Making of Academic Knowledge’. Brought together an interdisciplinary team to experiment with arts-based methodologies and approaches to analysis. Sum awarded: £13,859

• 2014-15 Principal Investigator, ‘Reading and Writing about Art: Literacy Events in the Context of the Museum’. United Kingdom Literacy Association Research Grant. Sum Awarded: £1909.

• 2014-15 Principal Investigator, ‘Shakespeare and Multimodal Adaptation: How do Teachers and Pupils Perceive and Employ these in Classroom Settings?’ Moray House School of Education Seed Corn Funding. Sum awarded: £1,396

• 2013-15 Principal Investigator, ‘Shakespeare, Adaptation and the ‘Educational’ Comic Book’. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. Sum awarded: £6,610

View all 18 publications on Research Explorer

More video

In the press

  • 'Feeling Fifty Years Younger': Creativty, Arts-based Education and Ageing. National Galleries of Scotland Research Conference. 2013



  • Presentation to Teachers and Librarians for Royal Society of Edinburgh Workshop Series on 'The Science of Stories’, Glasgow, June 2016.



  • Scottish Book Trust Blog on Shakespeare and Comic Books.