Dr Ritesh Shah

PhD (Auckland), MA (1st Class Hons, Auckland), BSc (Stanford University, USA)


Born and raised in the United States to immigrant parents from India, Ritesh completed his undergraduate degree at Stanford University in Earth Systems (an interdisciplinary degree combining environmental science, policy and economics).  He then taught in primary and middle schools in Los Angeles for five years.  In 2005, he arrived in New Zealand as a Fulbright Graduate Student and completed his Masters in Development Studies in 2007.  In 2013, Ritesh joined the Faculty of Education as a part-time lecturer after completing his doctorate.  

Most of his research occurs in international settings where changes in political, economic or social regimes driven by crises and/or conflict have lead to calls for significant reform to a nation’s education system. His main research sites have been in Latin America and Southeast Asia, but he has and continues to also work as an evaluation consultant for various development partners (INGOs and bilateral agencies) across the Asia-Pacific region and Middle East. 

Research | Current

What does it mean to create more socially just educational experiences and outcomes in societies facing social, political or economic conflict, or those on the periphery of the globalised economy? This is the big question Ritesh has pursued in his past and present research endeavours. Through largely ethnographic and qualitative methods of inquiry, he has uncovered the tensions and contractions that periods of significant economic, political, and social change bring about in schooling systems using a critical realist ontological framework. He continues to pursue these lines of enquiry. His goal is to better identify how global educational policies and discourses interact with the cultural political economy of particular societies to create contingent educational practices, beliefs and values: challenging paradigms of a “Globalised Culture of Schooling.” He maintains a geopolitical focus on countries and regions in transition—namely contexts on the ‘periphery’ of the globalised economy.

At present, he is one of two lead researchers on an ongoing research project titled Peacebuilding, social justice and education in Aceh, Indonesia. His focus within this project is whether and how school-based management reforms exacerbate or address the forms of exclusion that exist within Aceh's schooling system at present, as well as the implications this has for peace-building in the province.

Ritesh is also a senior researcher on a new research consortium between UNICEF and the Universities of Ulster, Amsterdam and Sussex.  Over the coming two years the consortium will explore through a series of country case studies:

  1. The integration of education into peacebuilding processes at global and country levels;
  2. The role of teachers in peacebuilding; and
  3. The role of formal and non-formal peacebuilding education programmes targeting youth

Ritesh also continues to reflect on and write about his experiences as an evaluator (see for example pg. 10 from this edition of Te Kuaka, the Faculty of Education's magazine).


Postgraduate supervision


  • Donella Cobb (PhD, Education) - The promotion of learner-centred education by the Commonwealth of Learning
  • Yulida Pangastuti (PhD, Education) - Conceptions of early childhood education in Indonesia
  • Daniel Couch (PhD, Education) - The role of teacher educaton in Afghanistan's reconstruction
  • Vitou Or (PhD, Education) - The integration of Cambodian higher education into ASEAN
  • John Mackisack (MArts Thesis) - Geopolitics of educational aid in Aceh, Indonesia
  • Farzana Noorzai (M Ed Dissertation) - Images of Islam in NZ Media
  • Semahar Gebremariam (M Ed Dissertation) - Ethiopian parents' participation in their children's education in New Zealand


  • Lilly Florence Manohoran (2014, M Ed Thesis) - Conceptions of 'quality' in NZ Tertiary Education Strategies
  • Hester Mostert (2011, M Ed Thesis) - Basic Education Provision in the "Fragile" State of Papua New Guinea
  • Maria Teresa Paz (2013, M Profst Dissertation) - Neoliberal Education Reforms in Chile


  • 2011 U21 Student Mobility Scholarship: Award granted by University of Auckland to undertake collaborative research with a colleague at the University of Amsterdam for ten days.
  • 2010 New Zealand Aid Postgraduate Research Grant: Award granted for costs incurred while conducting fieldwork.
  • 2009 TEC Bright Futures Scheme Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship: A fully funded scholarship to complete doctoral study at The University of Auckland. This scholarship is awarded to the top 10% of all doctoral candidates in New Zealand.
  • 2005 Fulbright US Graduate Student Award: Awarded one of ten scholarships (out of a total of 250 applications) to study in New Zealand for one year as an American postgraduate scholar at The University of Auckland.


Areas of expertise

  • Education and international development
  • Comparative and International Education
  • Education and globalsation
  • Governance of education
  • Education, peacebuilding and social justice
  • Educational policy studies
  • Monitoring and evaluation

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Shah, R. (2017). Improving children's wellbeing: An evaluation of NRC's better learning programme in Palestine. Oslo: Norwegian Refugee Council. Related URL.
  • Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A., & Shah, R. A. (2016). A conceptual framework to analyse the multiscalar politics of education for sustainable peacebuilding. Comparative Education: an international journal of comparative studies, 52 (4).10.1080/03050068.2016.1220144
  • Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A., & Shah, R. (2016). ‘The fruit caught between two stones’: the conflicted position of teachers within Aceh's independence struggle †. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 14 (3), 331-344. 10.1080/14767724.2016.1145572
  • Shah, R., Maber, E., Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A., & Paterson, R. (2016). Peacebuilding, education and advocacy in conflict-affected contexts programme: UNICEF programme report 2012-2016. New York, USA: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Related URL.
  • Shah, R., & Cardozo, M. T. L. (2016). Transformative teachers or teachers to be transformed? The cases of Bolivia and Timor-Leste. Research in Comparative and International Education, 11 (2), 208-221. 10.1177/1745499916633314
  • Higgins, S., Maber, E., Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A., & Shah, R. (2016). The role of education in peacebuilding: Myanmar. University of Amsterdam: Research Consortium on Education and Peacebuilding. Related URL.
  • Shah, R. (2015). Protecting children in a situation of ongoing conflict: Is resilience sufficient as the end product?. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 14, 179-185. 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2015.06.003
  • Shah, R. A. (2015). Norwegian Refugee Council's Accelerated Education Responses: A meta-evaluation. Oslo: Norwegian Refugee Council. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/27669

Contact details

Office hours

By appointment

Primary location

Level 3, Room 363
New Zealand