Research Interests

Equity Studies
Learning Sciences & Human Development
Qualitative Research Methods
Science & Mathematics

Molly Shea

Assistant Professor

Prior to joining the College of Education at University of Washington, Dr. Shea worked at San Francisco State University and the Exploratorium, and is dedicated to teaching in ways that are meaningful to students lives in and beyond school. Shea consciously creates collaborative resourses and publications with community members, students, and colleagues because she believes that knowledge is built through shared engagement with issues that matter to our everyday lives. Finally, Dr. Shea loves spending time with family, being outside, and watching soccer.

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Dr. Shea brings together ethnographic study of informal learning environments with theories of learning that focus on the social, cultural, and historical interactions. Drawing on historical and political roots of educational inequity, Dr. Shea focuses on design interventions that people undertake to interrupt social and environmental injustices. She studies the design and organization of collective group efforts that seek social change. This involves understanding how people attempt to shift valued knowledge within infrastructures and how learning takes place through these efforts. Dr. Shea has studied local organizing and learning in collective movements that include: the Food Justice Movement, business school reform during Occupy Wall Street, and the Maker Movement. Each of these efforts examine how power, race, gender and class intersect with notions of knowledge creation, expertise, and learning. Her interest is in understanding how communities actively work against infrastructures of power in order to design for more just futures.


Shea, M. V., Jurow, A. S., Schiffer, J., Escudé, M., & Torres, A. (2023). Infrastructural injustices in community‐driven afterschool STEAM. Journal of Research in Science Teaching.

Shea, M. V. (2022). Organizing for material possibility in a community-led science program. Mind, Culture, and Activity29(2), 123-142.

Shea, M. V., & Jurow, A. S. (2020). Student-led organizing for sustainability in business. Cognition and Instruction38(4), 538-560.

Shea, M. V., & Sandoval, J. (2020). Using historical and political understanding to design for equity in science education. Science Education104(1), 27-49.

Jurow, A. S., & Shea, M. (2015). Learning in equity-oriented scale-making projects. Journal of the Learning Sciences24(2), 286-307.