Who are we?

We are a group of teacher educators from three universities: in the US (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), New Zealand (University of Auckland) and in Australia (University of Melbourne). COLAB emerged over a number of years from our work and shared concerns with how preservice teacher education programs respond to our increasingly multicultural communities, locally and globally. Fuelled by these concerns COLAB builds on our own cross-cultural scholarship, understandings and experiences in our respective contexts. Some of these concerns included a common lack of preservice teacher attention to nuanced and critical understandings of others' (for instance refugees and migrants', or Indigenous) and their own cultural identity.


Dr. Sonja Arndt

Sonja Arndt is a lecturer in early childhood education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She is the Vice President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA) and is particularly interested in the use of philosophical inquiry in educational research, pedagogies and concerns. Her research and teaching focus on cross cultural studies, cultural identity formation and interculturality in early childhood education settings.

Dr. Samara Madrid Akpovo

Samara Madrid Akpovo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Her research has focused on the emotional lives of adults and children in early childhood classrooms using collaborative ethnographic methods along with feminist and poststructural frameworks. Her research also examines early childhood pre-service teachers' development of cross-cultural and intercultural understandings. A central theme in her research has been to challenge and deconstruct normative ways of being, feeling, and knowing with young children and teachers in diverse social and cultural contexts.

Dr. Marek Tesar

Professor Marek Tesar is Head of School of Learning Development and Professional Practice, and the Associate Dean International at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland. He is also the director of Centre for Global Childhoods. His award-winning scholarship is focused on early childhood education in both New Zealand as well as in cross-country contexts. His academic work and consultancy focuses on educational policy, philosophy, pedagogy, methodology and curriculum, and draws on his background as a qualified teacher. Currently, Marek serves as a leader of two leading learned societies in his fields; he chairs the Steering Committee of the Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) and is elected President of Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia (PESA).

"By using technology to communicate it seemed a little easier to converse about a variety of things that could have been awkward to say in person. Each group member was willing to share and communicate effectively throughout the process so that we were able to gain understanding and knowledge from one another about our varying cultures."

-COLAB Student