Valerie Shirley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies from Purdue University and M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Upon receiving her B.A. degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, she taught in two elementary schools located in two Indigenous communities in Arizona. She is a member of the Diné Nation (Ma’iideeshgizhinii, Tsinaajinni, Todich’iinii and Honaghaanii clans) which continues to shape her research and pedagogical interests. As such, her previous research work engaged Diné youth in the process of decolonization to critically examine their identities in relation to history and the Diné epistemology. Her research interests are within the areas of critical Indigenous pedagogy, social justice pedagogy, youth empowerment, curriculum development, teacher education and Indigenous education.
Prior to her arrival at the UA, she worked with diverse preservice teachers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Purdue University; relying on the frameworks of critical multicultural education and social justice to support equitable learning experiences for students while encouraging educators to keep issues such as race, class, gender, sexuality, culture and language at the forefront of curriculum and instruction.