Dr Sean Kohingarara Sturm

PhD, MA (Hons), PGCertAcadPrac


Sean is of German, Russian, English and Māori descent. He affiliates with Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa (Ngāti Rakapaaka). Before he began study at the University of Auckland, he was a songwriter and musician.

He majored in Philosophy and English for his BA (1999) and MA (2001), and in English for his PhD (2009). His thesis, supervised by Alex Calder and Wystan Curnow, took New Zealand colonial engineer and novelist George Chamier as exemplary of the ambivalent figure of the "unsettled settler," complicit in but critical of the colonial enterprise. It was titled "Chamier the Epicurean: The Life and Works of George Chamier (1842-1915)."

He taught before, during and after his doctoral studies in the Writing Studies programme in the Department of English (2002-2010) and in the Creative Writing programme at the Manukau Institute of Technology (2009-2010). He joined CLeaR as a Senior Tutor in 2009, and took up a position there as a Lecturer in Academic Development in 2013. Since then, he has served as Deputy Director (2015-2017, 2019) and as Acting Director of CLeaR (2018).

Research | Current

Sean researches the university as a place of possibilities (Sturm & Turner, 2017), taking in several fields of higher education research:

  • the philosophy of education,
  • critical university studies,
  • critical pedagogy,
  • writing studies,
  • settler studies,
  • post-qualitative/arts-based methodology, and
  • indigenous methodologies.

Funded research projects

2018-2019: (co-PI) Pathways to the Past: Effective Pedagogies for Māori and Pasifika Students in the Historical Disciplines. Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI). (With 'Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki [UoA] and Nancy November [UoA].) NZD200,000

2018: (PI) Rethinking dissent in the university. Education FDRF. NZD8,241

2017-2018: (AI) Enhancing future employabilty through tertiary education. Ako Aotearoa. (With Susan Geertshuis [UoA, PI], Rob Wass [UoO], Tim Watts [NZAGE], Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA], Jennifer Curtin [UoA], Helena Cooper-Thomas [AUT], Gavin Brown [UoA], Annette Dunham [UoA], Brendon Potter [UoA], Narissa Lewis [UoA].) NZD300,000

2016: (co-PI) Historical literacy Aotearoa: The progression and engagement of Maori and Pasifika students in the historical disciplines. Education FDRF. (With Nancy November [Music], Jennifer Frost [History], Lisa Bailey [Classics & Ancient History], Martyn Davison [Pakuranga College].) NZD10,800

2015-2016: (AI) Making the invisible visible: Illuminating undergraduate learning outcomes beyond content and skills. Ako Aotearoa. (With Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA, PI], Alison Cleland [UoA], Alys Longley [UoA], Andrea Mead [UoA], Amanda Gilbert [Vic], Bernadette Knewstubb [Vic].) NZD300,000

2013-2015: (co-PI) Mapping Institutional Resources and Processes Supporting the Development of Tertiary Learning and Teaching Grant Applications. Office of Learning and Teaching (Australia) Specific Initiative. (With Gavin Sanderson [UniSA, co-PI], Kerry Allison [Monash], Tania Broadley [Curtin], Matt Eliot [CQU], Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA], Jan McLean [UNSW], and Jan Tuovinen [Tabor].) NZD280,000

2013-2014: (AI) The Liveable University. Transforming Cities: Innovations for Sustainable Futures. WUN Urban Research Seeding Fund. (With Stephen Turner [PI], Niki Harré and Kirsten Locke from the University of Auckland.) NZD15,000


Reviews Editor, Educational Philosophy and Theory

Associate Editor, Knowledge Cultures 

Editorial Board, Teaching in Higher Education

Editorial Board, Policy Futures in Education

Editorial Board, Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy

College of Reviewers, Higher Education Research & Development

Regular reviewer for Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and TEXT: A Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, among other journals

Teaching | Current

Sean works primarily with academics to develop themselves as critical and creative practitioners. He coordinates the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, leading the Teaching, Learning and Assessment course (ACADPRAC 701), as well as contributing to CLeaR's Teaching Catalyst and other programmes. He also consults on curriculum review and researcher development. He is CLeaR's Faculty of Arts liaison.

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD supervisions

Ghulam Yahya Ahmadi (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Mohammad Taqi Amini (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Dominic Da Souza-Correa (co-supervision with Anna Boswell)

Victoria O'Sullivan (co-supervision with Alys Longley)

Lorenz Poeschl (co-supervision with Stephen Turner) [submitted]

John Roder

Joshua Sarpong (co-supervision with Cathy Gunn)

Morteza Sharifi (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Angela Tsai (co-supervision with Dawn Garbett) [part-time]

Completed PhD supervisions

Tatum Adiningrum (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Enni Suonio (co-supervision with Brad Coombes)

Completed Masters supervisions

Maarten Klene (co-supervision with Marek Tesar)

Future supervisions

Sean is looking to supervise in the following areas of higher education research:

  • the philosophy of education (especially critical theory in education)
  • critical pedagogy and critical university studies
  • learning and teaching spaces, online and "offline"
  • writing pedagogy
  • digital humanities

He is comfortable with many theoretical approaches, but has a particular focus, as his research interests suggest, on the philosophy of education and critical theory. He has expertise in qualitative and narrative methodologies, but has a particular interest in critical-creative approaches to research and writing.


University of Auckland Distinguished Visitor Award (2018)

Academic Leaders Programme (2017)

Te Amorangi National Māori Academic Excellence Award (2009)

University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (2007)

Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Bright Futures Top Achievers' Scholarship (2003)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

University service

  • Lecturers' Representative (at Large) on Senate (2013-2021)
  • Sub-Professorial Member on the Education Committee (2017-2022)
  • Sub-Professorial Member on the Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (2013-2018), including Teaching Excellence Awards Subcommittees, Learning Enhancement Grants Subcommittees, Graduate Profile Working Group, Assessment Working Group, Teaching Capability Model Working Group
  • Student Engagement Working Group: Assessment Sub-Group (2019)
  • CLeaR Faculty Liaison, Arts Faculty; Ex Officio Member, Faculty of Arts Academic Committee (2014-2017); Ex Officio Member, Faculty of Arts, Student Engagement and Retention Group (2018-2019)
  • Critical Theory Network Advisory Group (2018-)
  • CLeaR representative on TLQC, Staff Advisory Committee, HERD Governance Board, Faculty of Education and Social Work Senior Leadership Team (2018)
  • Faculty of Law Working Group on Teaching Delivery (2017)
  • CLeaR representative, Academic Audit (Cycle 5) Steering Group (2013-2014)
  • Member at Large, Tertiary Education Union Branch Committee (2011-2017, 2019); Academic Member, Collective Bargaining Team (2011-2015; 2017; 2019)

Service to the research community

  • Executive member and Treasurer, Association for Visual Pedagogies (2019-)
  • Executive member, Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (2017)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Brown, G., Cooper-Thomas, H., Curtin, J., Dunham, A., Geertshuis, S., Kensington-Miller, B., ... Wass, R. (2019). Teaching for transformation: The four E’s of teaching future-ready graduates. Paper presented at Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference, Auckland, New Zealand. 2 July - 5 July 2019. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Susan Geertshuis, Gavin Brown, Annette Dunham, Barbara Kensington-Miller
  • Kensington-Miller, B. A., Longley, A., Sturm, S., Mead, A., Gilbert, A., Knewstubb, B., & Cleland, A. (2019). Making the Invisible Visible: Illuminating Undergraduate Learning Outcomes Beyond Content and Skills. Wellington, new Zealand: Ako Aotearoa – The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45271
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Barbara Kensington-Miller, Andrea Mead
  • Adiningrum, T., Sturm, S., & Kensington-Miller, B. (2019). Part-time academics’ perception of their role and academic development: A case study from Indonesia. International Journal for Academic Development, 24 (2), 109-121. 10.1080/1360144X.2019.1593176
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46843
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Barbara Kensington-Miller
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2019). In the Wake of the Quake: Teaching the Emergency. In M. Peters, S. Weber (Eds.) Organization and Newness: Discourses and Ecologies of Innovation in the Creative University (pp. 205-215). Leiden: Brill/Sense. 10.1163/9789004394827_016
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45250
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2018). In the wake of the quake: Teaching the emergency. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50 (5), 519-527. 10.1080/00131857.2017.1384724
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/40145
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner
  • Roder, J., & Sturm, S. (2018). Flight from flight: Composing a pedagogy of affect. In C. Naughton, G. Biesta, D. R. Cole (Eds.) Art, artists and pedagogy: Philosophy and the arts in education (pp. 127-136). Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45368
  • Sturm, S. (2018). An art of orientation: The possibilities of learning spaces. In L. Benade, M. Jackson (Eds.) Transforming education: Design & governance in global contexts (pp. 135-148). Singapore: Springer.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/39896
  • Sturm, S. (2017). Beyond the Neoliberal University: Hopeful Critique. Cultural Studies Review, 23 (2), 190-190. 10.5130/csr.v23i2.5828


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 405
New Zealand

Web links