Prior to joining the Learning Sciences faculty at Northwestern University in 2014, Shirin Vossoughi was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the Exploratorium, where she led an ethnographic study of after-school programs that blend scientific inquiry, literacy and the arts. More broadly, she draws on a range of interpretive methods to study the social, historical, political and ethical dimensions of learning.
Bringing together the ethnographic study of talk and interaction with cultural-historical approaches to learning, Vossoughi seeks to integrate macro-political concerns (the roots of educational inequity, transnational migration, neoliberalism) with detailed studies of educational settings that imagine and enact alternative social relations. Vossoughi’s research centers on hybrid learning environments that blend formal and informal elements and support young people to engage in sophisticated forms of disciplinary thinking while questioning and expanding disciplinary boundaries. She is particularly concerned with the forms of pedagogical mediation and developmental trajectories that take shape within these settings.Vossoughi’s research therefore focuses on the following key phenomena: apprenticeship and joint activity; language and literacy practices; play and creativity; the subjective experience of educational dignity and indignity; the tensions and possibilities of political education; and the micro-genetic (moment-to-moment and day-to-day) development of scientific, social analytic and artistic discourse and practice.
Vossoughi has taught in schools, after-school and summer programs, and served as the director of a summer camp for youth in the Iranian diaspora. As the daughter of Iranian immigrants, she is personally invested in the design and study of educational settings for youth from migrant, immigrant and diasporic backgrounds. She has also designed and taught university-level courses on culture, learning, ethnography and social theory. She takes a collaborative approach to research, partnering with teachers and students to study the conditions that foster educational dignity and possibility.