One of the knowledge mobilization activities of my SSHRC grant on education futures was a podcast. This post shares episode 5 of 7.

First, a bit of background

The future of education is open and contested. In this podcast we approach the future of education from a storytelling perspective.Stories about the future of education are diverse, complex, and run the gamut of wild hope to doom and despair. In some of these stories techno-optimism drives what is thought to be possible. In others, education is imagined to be a regenerative cultural force. In yet others, the impact of capitalism and authoritarian systems of surveillance already taking hold in education create dystopian spaces of control and management. The stories we tell have the power to create the world we live in. Understanding the stories we tell about what is possible, and the trends in those stories, can give us insight into the present, into ourselves and each other, and the worlds we might seek to or are already in the process of creating.

What are the stories being told about the future of higher education today? Who tells them? What do these stories reveal about our values and our assumptions? What do they reveal about technology and about our universities? What do they say about the future, but also about the present? The speculative learning futures podcast,brings together diverse voices and perspectives, from artists to scholars of different backgrounds, to imagine and discuss the future of education and the role of storytelling in moving towards or away from those futures. [As an aside: More on this questions in this paper and this paper. And if you have a paper of yours that centers these questions, consider submitting it to a journal special issue I am co-editing].

Subscribe to all episodes on Google, Apple, or Spotify. Or, if you prefer to download the mp3 files without subscribing, you can download all of them from here.

Episode 5

In this episode, Shandell has an intimate conversation with Dr. Nilofar Shidmehr, an Iranian Canadian poet, where they explore what creativity, imagination, and perhaps most importantly, connection mean to learning today. What is the value of making art for doing scholarly research and creating knowledge? What can we learn about learning and education from appreciating what different education systems offer or constrain? Nilofar is a bit of a renaissance woman, earning a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, before abandoning that career to go on and earn a BA in Philosophy and Creative Writing, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a PhD in Cross Faculty Inquiry in Education, all from the University of British Columbia. She’s published widely in literary journals as well as in scholarly contexts, and is a scholar of arts-informed research and one of the pioneers of poetic inquiry as a methodology of research. Currently, she teaches related courses in the Liberal Arts Program at Simon Fraser University. She has published five books of poetry and two collections of short stories in English and Persian.


We are deeply grateful to the guests who spoke with us for each of the episodes of this series. We’re also fraeful to the Digital Public Interest Collective for their support, in dedicating the third series of the Digital Public Interest Collective podcast to education. Editing was provided by Andrea Galizia, and production advice was provided by Dr. Jaigris Hodson. The podcast was produced with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grant #430-2020-00404)