Samira Thomas

Storryteller and Curriculum Expert

Thomas, S. (2017). Grief and the curriculum of cosmopolitanism. UBC Dissertation. 

Abstract: This dissertation explores the cosmopolitan curricular value of attending to grief, understood as ‘heaviness.’ Grief is the response to structural and physical violence enacted in our world on a regular basis. The field of cosmopolitanism is critiqued for its violence in consistently centering European, male philosophers. Similarly, curriculum, it is argued, can be violent in negating and caricaturizing historically marginalized communities of people, including women, religious groups, and people of colour. By negating the histories and stories of these communities, the curriculum turns people into ghosts who haunt the classroom and our society, left intentionally unseen by power.  This dissertation introduces the method of the Intimate Dialogue, a concept introduced by Ibn Arabi when describing prayer. The method of the Intimate Dialogue, is a hopeful act in which the participants take one another as the beloved, in an ethic of hospitality informed by the Quranic conceptions of cosmopolitanism. 

Thomas, S. (2017). Wayfarers of the inner landscape: a feminist Sufi perspective. In Lyle, E. (ed) At the intersection of selves and subject. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Abstract: In this chapter, women's "estranged voices" are heard through the lens of complexity theory, conceived as an embrace, drawing on the wisdom of the Sufi path of love. Through an exploration of the artistic expression of maternal love and loss by Frida Kahlo and Virginia Woolf, this chapter offers a path for wayfarers to explore their own inner landscape


Thomas, S. (forthcoming 2017). The imaginal realm: a meeting place for the Intimate Dialogue. In Hasebe-Ludt, E., Leggo, C. (eds). Provoking Curriculum Studies: a Manifesto of Inspiration/Imagination/Interconnection. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholars Press.

Abstract: In this chapter, the Intimate Dialogue is explored as an approach to curriculum studies. It is through the intimate dialogue, realized through imagination, that we come to know ourselves as unique, our stories, and our place in the complex web of interconnectedness. It is in the realm of the imagination that we come to know ourselves and understand our experiences beyond the measurable. It is about how we share of ourselves, and our spirits, not by becoming lifeless curiosities as research subjects, but as pulsing, living, embodied spirits, full of imagination.  


Thomas, S. (2016). In praise of patience. Aeon Magazine. 


Thomas, S. (2015). Cosmopolitanism: a journey of suffering and forgiveness. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry. 12:1 pp. 28 - 39.

Abstract: In this paper, cosmopolitanism is examined and then approached with a Sufi ontology and epistemology, particularly drawing on the history of thought at the time of Al-Andalus. Using the concepts of hilm and ilm as a dyad of thought and action, cosmopolitanism is reimagined to become cosmopassion and cosmocharis, the dual reality of universal suffering and a call for universal grace and forgiveness. Through an autobiographical exploration of the enactment of cosmopolitanism as a lived curriculum, the complexities of this reimagining are brought to bear on the current moment we inhabit in history.


Boudreault, F., Haga, J., Paylor, B., Sabourine, A., Thomas, S., van der Linden, C. (2013). Future Tense: adapting Canada's Education Systems for the 21st Century. Action Canada Policy Paper. 

Abstract: Canadian education systems rank among the best in the world, resulting in a highly-skilled labour force and competitive industries. However, the challenges associated with the twenty-first century have placed new demands on Canada and, by extension, Canadian education systems. In particular, these systems are now tasked with educating a generation that faces an unprecedented pace of social, economic, and technological change.

In an effort to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to prosper in such an environment, provincial governments across Canada have begun to implement education strategies that focus on developing specific competencies which collectively fall under the rubric of 21st century learning. The objective of 21st century learning is to build capacity in areas that promote a resilient society capable of effectively adapting to rapid change. It represents a shift in emphasis from the instruction of facts to a model which focuses on competencies such as critical thinking, character, creativity, innovation, as well as digital and computer literacy.

This report takes stock of efforts by five provincial governments to adapt their respective elementary and secondary education systems to incorporate 21st century learning models. It reviews provincial education policies then presents the results of a survey commissioned as part of this report and fielded to teachers in each of the provinces under examination – all with a view to better understanding the extent to which 21st century learning is being implemented within Canada.

Thomas, S. (2012).  Integrating Landscape into Early Childhood Development in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning,  

Abstract: This thesis is an exploration of children's educational interactions with their landscape in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the ways in which landscape, as an important contributor to human development, can be integrated as a topic and as the setting of learning, into the early childhood curriculum in a meaningful and contextually appropriate way. The spaces of learning have increasingly become important components of engagement in education research - the concept of ''environment as teacher" is incorporated into this research study as a critical component of learning. This thesis has explored teacher willingness to participate in integrating landscape into the early childhood curriculum in their school, the Sparks Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The concept of landscape was approached both as the space of learning as well as a topic of study. It takes an approach to learning that moves beyond access and into the content and pedagogical style of teaching. This research concludes that Sparks is currently a community of enthusiastic teachers who wish to engage students in their learning in meaningful ways. There is a potential to build on current practices and turn current practice into an even more meaningful learning experience for young children in Kabul, Afghanistan. In particular, it extends the meaning of the Bagh-e-Babur from a space of cultural engagement, to a place of significant learning for Kabul's young.