Shama Dossa, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Social Development & Policy
School of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences


  • Ph.D in Adult Education and Community Development, Department of Leadership and Higher Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada.
  • M.Sc. in Rural Extension Studies, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph, Canada.
  • BA Hons in Anthropology and Political Science, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

Awards and Honors

  • University of Toronto Doctoral Scholarship
  • University of Toronto OISE Merit Award
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Government of Ontario.
Current Research Projects
Strengthening Health Systems for Reproductive Health and Rights in Pakistan funded by the International Development Research Centre.
Literary & Artistic Works
Haberstich, P., Afsar, H.A., & Dossa, S. (Writer) (2004). Breaking walls (Documentary DVD). Aahung (Producer). Pakistan: Aahung.


Dr. Shama Dossa is a community development practitioner, researcher and academic with over fifteen years of experience working in the Asia-Pacific Region. Dr. Shama recently completed her tenure as Director Research, Evaluation and Learning with Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan. Prior to this she was based at ARROW (Asia Pacific Resource and Research Centre) in Malaysia where she worked on policy advocacy and research on sexual and reproductive health. She was also involved in regional and global advocacy campaigns and facilitated civil society interaction with government delegations at ESCAP and other UN processes including the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

Dr. Shama is particularly interested in the dialectic of theory and practice in community development, and in improving the quality of research in the field of social development in the region. The courses she teaches draw on adult learning approaches; the power of performance and the visual; and are primarily designed to have a practical outcome grounded in theory. Her multidisciplinary research and teaching interests range from Participatory Action Research and Arts Informed Research to Transnational Feminism, Critical Theory, Medical Anthropology, Community Driven Social Change to Quality of Life. She has taught at Ryerson University’s, Department of Sociology; Aga Khan University’s, Department of Community Health Sciences; and Quaid-e-Azam University’s, Department of Gender Studies; and most recently the University of Central Asia’s Graduate School of Development located in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. In her spare time she continues to work with local non-profits in the region and support research initiatives focused on social justice.

Research Grants

Project Title: :Strengthening research capacity for undergraduate students on Climate Change Adaptation, Conflict, and Peacebuilding from an Intersectional Feminist Lens

Funder: United States Institute for Peace
Duration: August 2023- July 2024 (USD 25,000)

Develop an advanced-level research seminar for Habib University’s Social Development and Policy students which is focused on the nexus between climate change, gender, and peace. On the seminar’s completion at the end of phase 2 of the project, students will be expected to craft a robust qualitative research question focused on climate change, conflict, peace, and gender; develop and present a theoretical and conceptual framework based on their research question and a literature review; develop and present a methodological approach appropriate to their research question based on a literature review; and analyze secondary/primary data using manual and computer-assisted software techniques.
Produce 10 to 15 research proposals of independently researched reports related to climate change, conflict, and peace through a feminist lens. In phase 2 of this project, the reports will be prepared, a two-day conference to share the reports with policymakers, practitioners, and other junior and senior scholars, and publication of a selected research papers as conference proceedings in collaboration with USIP.

Current Research

Project Title: Family and Community in the time of COVID-19

Study Duration: June 2020 – June 2021 ( Co-PI)

This research aims to get a better understanding of the complexity of daily life during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and major hub of the outbreak. The research forms part of an international network of projects in ten countries led by University College London (UCL), all using similar methods and addressing related questions. This network includes the U.K., Argentina, Chile, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan and the USA.[1] These represent a range of countries from across the global North and South, with different approaches to managing the pandemic. Together the projects will provide an internationally comparative, longitudinal lens on local responses to a global health crisis. The intention is to investigate the challenges experienced by families, the risks posed to well-being and the steps being taken by families to overcome these risks during these difficult times.
Pakistan Collaborators: Collective for Social Sciences; Habib University, Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture; Habib University Faculty Research Grant Awarded December 2020.

Project Title: Leveraging the Humanities in healthcare training: A mixed methods study for development and testing of an integrative Humanities curriculum for Lady Health Workers in Karachi, Pakistan (2020-2021) Co-collaborator with IRD. Funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

Technical Expert
Member of the Country Research Expert Group “Sustaining Power: Women’s struggles against contemporary backlash in South Asia” (2020 to 2024), Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex

Member of the International Advisory Committee Queen Mary University to join the International Advisory Board for the research PIECEs: Improving outcomes for people with psychosis in Pakistan and India – enhancing the Effectiveness of Community-based care as a technical research expert. PIECEs is a research project jointly developed by the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry (Queen Mary University of London), Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF – Chennai, India) and International Research and Development (IRD – Karachi, Pakistan). People’s Palace Projects (PPP), an arts research centre related to Queen Mary University of London, will lead the arts work in partnership with the appointed local arts organisations (EVAM in Pakistan and IRC in India). The research is funded by NHIR and runs from September 2020 to August 2024.

Member of the Advisory Board for Naya Qadam a post-pregnancy family planning intervention in Pakistan led by Pathfinder International

Previous Research Projects

Title: Developing Inter Agency Protocols for Gender based Violence in Pre & Post Disaster Scenarios in Collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority through Action Research (2018-2020)

Funder: UNFPA
Status: Completed
Title: Strengthening Health Systems Governance for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Pakistan
Role: Co-PI
Funder: International Development Research Center (IDRC)
Year: 2013
Status: Completed

Recent Publications & Artistic Works

Selected Publications

  • Dossa, S. & Roy, P (2017) Girls Education in Afghanistan-Complexities of Context and the Need for Innovation: Case Study of the Flexible Response Fund (FRF) in D. Asharaf, M.A.Tajik & S. Niyozov (Eds.) Education Policies in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan: Contested Terrain in the Twenty First Century, Lexington Books.
  • Dossa,S; Ramay S, & Sarosh, T. (2013) Caught between an onslaught of Imperialisms: Struggles of constructing feminists identities in Contemporary Pakistan. Paper presented at the 15th Regional Sustainable Development Policy Institute Conference (11-13 Dec 2012)
  • Dossa S. (2011) Re(ART)iculating Empowerment: Cooperative Explorations with Community Development Workers in Pakistan. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Toronto.
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