Lisa Starr

Academic title(s): 

Associate Professor

Department Chair

Lisa Starr
Contact Information

Office: Education Room 247
Email: chair.dise [at]

Email address: 
lisa.starr2 [at]

My passion for the study of education follows two streams: (1) Teaching and leading in K-Graduation schools, and (2) Addressing gender-based violence in educational contexts in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and South Africa. In a K-graduation context, my research and teaching focuses on relational leadership/pedagogy as well as innovative approaches to K-Graduation education in Canada. As an innovative research methodology, I commonly use autoethnography as a means to study and disseminate research about educators’ experience with change. I am dedicated to improving education by facilitating and/or generating deep understanding around the complex issues present in today’s schools. The second stream of my research focuses on the use of participatory visual methodologies, like cellphilming, photovoice and drawing, as tools to address gender-based violence. I study the complex barriers that impede educational change and how those barriers impact women’s leadership.



2014 Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction. Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia
Dissertation: We lead who we are: A collaborative inquiry to inform educational leadership praxis in contexts of diversity
2006 Master of Arts in Education, Administration and Supervision.  Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Arizona
Project: Improving the Application of Student Values in the Context of Academic Malpractice

1993 Bachelor of Education, Physical Education, English & Health. Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan

Areas of expertise: 
  • Sexual and Gender Based Violence
  • Teacher Education
  • Educational Leadership
  • Autoethnography
  • Collaborative inquiry
  • Transformative inquiry
  • Action research
  • Reflexivity
  • Teacher identity
  • Teacher leadership
  • School/institutional partnerships
  • Women in education
Current research: 

Current Canadian Research


Principal Investigator

NEXTSchools: Studying Educational Change in four Québec High Schools. 2017 to present. Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded: (1) Partnership Development Grant $198 184 [2019-22 awarded]; (2) Internal Social Sciences and Humanities Development Grant $5 000 [2018-20 awarded].

Description: NEXTschools is predicated on the belief that in order to navigate the complexity of the world today, students need critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and leadership, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, and curiosity and imagination (Wagner, 2008). NEXTschools focuses developing these skills through a systems approach to innovation in teaching and learning that will significantly transform how English high school education looks, feels and functions in Québec. NEXTschools unites the following partners: (1) teachers and administrators at Three Rivers Academy (Central Québec School Board), Howard S. Billings Regional High School (New Frontiers School Board) and Heritage Regional High School (Riverside School Board); (2) pedagogical specialists/researchers in educational reform and innovative learning in the Faculty of Education at McGill University; and (3) LEARN (the Leading English Education and Resource Network), a non-profit educational organization charged with supporting English education in Québec. The research goal is to effect and research innovative educational change within a collaborative partnership between school, university and community settings.


Current International Research


Principal Investigator

Designing and implementing pedagogical strategies for addressing Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Teacher Training Colleges in Mozambique. Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight program $259 166 [2018-2022 awarded].

Description: Broadly, this research responds to three priority areas identified by Global Affairs Canada (2017) in its first feminist development assistance policy: (1) To advance women’s equal participation with men as decision makers in shaping the sustainable development of their societies; (2) To support women and girls in the realization of their full human rights; and (3) To reduce gender inequalities in access to and control over the resources and benefits of development (Government of Canada, 2017). Specifically, we are studying the implementation and impact of three pedagogical intervention tools intended to combat SGBV: (1) Gender Matters: Strategies for Gender Responsive Teaching, (2) a Sexual and Gender-based Violence Tool-kit for IFPs; and (3) Participatory Visual Methodologies: Tools for Local Engagement.


Transforming Girls Education Project 

In partnership with CODE. Funded by Global Affairs Canada. Collaborator with Dr. Claudia Mitchell. November 2019 to August 2022.

Description: Transforming Girls Education Project is a two-year, Global Affairs Canada and CODE co-funded project aiming to dismantle barriers to education for girls while improving the quality of education for both girls and boys in Sierra Leone. This project will be implemented by CODE, McGill University and TALLE— CODE local partner. TGEP aims to improve learning outcomes for girls attending upper primary classes (grades 4 to 6) thus girls typically between 9 and 16 years of age. At the teacher training level, the TGEP works with teacher training institutes (TTI) educators for their heightened awareness of how gender biases shape pedagogy, classroom relationships and opportunity for learning. In the wake of awareness, TTI educators work together, with the support of CODE, to design training modules to support teachers’ inclusive classroom practices and gender responsive pedagogy (GRP). Our area of expertise is the design and development of materials that support specific pedagogies that are both Gender Responsive and differentiated for P4-6 literacy instruction and teaching and learning in Classes 4-6 that address Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Gender Based Violence.


Participatory Research on Education and Agency in Mali (PREAM)

In partnership with Plan Canada. Project funded by the Dubai Cares fund for $863 595 USD. Collaborator with Dr. Claudia Mitchell & Dr. Catherine Vanner. September 2019 – August 2023.

Description: This research project is implemented in Mali by Plan Canada, in partnership with McGill University. To ensure a locally driven, relevant and inclusive project, these partners will work alongside a local research institute and other stakeholders. Using a participatory mixed methods approach, the research will investigate and produce much needed evidence on the relationship between gender, agency, and education in conflict affected contexts. The project’s main research question is: What is the relationship between the agency of adolescents (aged 12-17 years), especially girls, and their experience of primary education in conflict affected settings of Mopti and Ségou, Mali.

Selected publications: 



Starr, L.J., Rosenberg, A., Levitan, J., MacCannell, E., & Gold, V. (2020). NEXTschool Reform: Situating local perspectives within global trends for 21st century learning. Systemic Change Journal, 2(1), 1-21. Retrieved from

Rosenberg, A, & Starr, L.J. (2019, accepted for publication). Educational change and rethinking disciplinarity: A concept analysis. Accepted for publication in the McGill Journal of Education.

Starr, L.J., Rosenberg, A, Gold, V., MacCannell, E., Levitan, J, & Butler Kisber. (2019, submitted for publication). NEXTschool: A review of literature informing innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Submitted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Education.

Incio Serra, N. Levitan, J, Johnson, K, & L.J. Starr. (2019, submitted for publication). Peruvian Indigenous female student lives: A daily exercise in resilience. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

Starr, L.J., Rosenberg, A., Levitan, J., & Hibberd, A. (2019, in review). NEXTschool: Design thinking, 21st century learning and innovation in high school education. Submitted for publication in the Journal of Educational Change.


Harvey, B., Starr, L.J., & Levitan, J. (2020, January 21). Opinion: Preparing our students for the climate future. Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from



Starr, L.J. Mitchell, C., & Macentee, K. (2019, August). Participatory Visual Methodology and Gender Training for Teacher Training Institutes Workshop 3. Metodologia Visual Participativa e Formação em Gênero nos IFPs. Prepared for the Better Education through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results (BETTER) project Training Report.

Levitan, J. Gold, V., MacCannell, E., & Starr, L.J. (2019). NEXTschool Preliminary Report: Student Voice and Engagement Consultation Activity. Prepared for the Three Rivers Academy, Trois Riviere, Quebec.

Starr, L.J., Levitan, J., Rosenberg, A, Gold, V., & MacCannell, E. (2019). NEXTschool Initiative: Literature Review. Prepared for LEARN.

Starr, L.J. & Mitchell, C. (2019). Understanding gender equality and gender-based violence in Mozambican IFPs: Findings from focus groups and narrative responses at Chibututuine, Chitima, Cumba, and Pemba IFPs. Prepared for the Better Education through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results (BETTER) project.



Thompson, J., Mitchell, C., & Starr, L.J. (2019). Cellphiming: Uma Ferramenta para a Abordagem da Igualdade de Género. Guião do Facilitador. Developed as part of the Better Education through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results (BETTER) project funded by Global Affairs Canada and directed by the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE) in partnership with Associação Progresso, Maputo, Mozambique.

Graduate supervision: 


Brown, K. Examining sensory tools as a strategy for reducing youth crisis and self-harm for adolescents in youth care (Year 1). Awards: 1) Graduate Entrance Award ($6000). Expected completion date: May 2024

Gold, V. Understanding the impact of school reform on teacher education programs. (Year 2, fast tracked to Doctoral program from MA program). Co-supervision: Dr. J. Levitan, Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Awards: (1) SSHRC Doctoral Award ($25 000), (2) FRQSC Doctoral Award ($21 000 over 3 years), (3) SSHRC Storytellers Top 25 finalist ($3000), (4) Doctoral Entrance Award ($7500), (5) DISE Outstanding leadership & Service Award ($2000), (6) 7th International Cellphilm festival Bronze medal, (7) Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Travel Award ($300). Expected completion date: August 2023

Kumar Gill, R. Living on both sides of the screen: An ethnographic study of the impact of personal and professional identities on teacher candidates’ pedagogical practices(Candidate, Year 4). Awards: FRQSC Doctoral Award ($21 000 over 3 years). Expected completion date: May 2022

MacCannell, E. Investigating the impact of NEXTschools on student engagement. (Year 2, Fast tracked to Doctoral program from MA program). Co-supervision: Dr. J. Levitan, Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Awards: (1) Doctoral Entrance Award ($7500), (2) Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Travel Award ($300). Expected completion date: August 2023

Nural Laila, A. Consultation Sessions to Support Student Teachers’ Transformative Change in Facilitating the Secondary English Language Learning: A Case Study of Indonesia’s Student Teachers’ Teaching Practice Program (Year 3). Expected completion date: May 2024.

Philip, L. Principals perspectives: Discourse on cultural responsiveness, social justice and inclusion in Catholic schools (Candidate, Year 4). Awards: (1) Ruth Hoyt Cameron Fellowship ($5350), (2) Graduate Excellence Departmental Fellowship ($3650), (3) Entrance Award ($5000), (4) GREAT Award ($900), (5) Graduate Excellence Award ($26 960), (6) DISE ABDUL Award ($2000), (7) DISE Dissertation Proposal Award ($2000). Expected completion date: August 2021

Ramazan, M. Educational policy and its reflection in day-to-day secondary school principals’ practices in the context of Afghanistan (Year 4). Expected completion date: August 2024.


Selected talks and presentations: 


Awards, honours, and fellowships: 




Professional activities: 

Academic Leadership

2021-2024 Deputy Chair, Committee for Student Discipline

2021-24 Chair, Department Tenure Committee

2019-present Chair, Teacher Education Program Revision Subcommittee, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

2019-present Co-Lead, Sustainability and Well-being: Education and Global Development Network, McGill Institute for Human Development and Well Being

2018-2021 Director, Internships and Student Affairs Office, Faculty of Education

2018-2021 Discipline Officer, Faculty of Education, McGill University

2018-present Co-Director, Educational Leadership in Action (ELIA) Research Group

Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

2018-19 University Representative, Leadership Committee for English Education in Quebec (LCEEQ),

2017-2021 Chair, Bicentennial Committee, Faculty of Education, McGill University

2017-20 University Senator, Faculty of Education Representative, McGill University

2016-20 Director, Graduate Certificates in Educational Leadership (GCEL) program

Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

2016-18 Assistant Graduate Program Director, Masters Programs in Educational Leadership, Education and Society and Teaching and Learning.

Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

2016-18 Past-President, Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education, an association within the Canadian Society for the Study of Education

2013-16 President, Canadian Association for the Study of Women and Education, an association within the Canadian Society for the Study of Education


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