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Samara Madrid Akpovo

Associate Professor, Director of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Research Lab


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 intercultural and emotional lives of adults and children in early childhood classrooms using collaborative ethnographic methods and discourse analysis. Her research also examines teachers’ intercultural and global competence during virtual exchange programs (Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders) and international field experiences in Nepal.

(Currently accepting new graduate students)

Visit Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB) here


  • Peer culture and school cultures of classroom life
  • Cross-cultural and collaborative ethnography
  • Emotional lives of children and adults in diverse classroom contexts
  • Intercultural and global understandings of teaching and learning


  • Ph.D., Teaching and Learning: Early Childhood Education, The Ohio State University, 2007
  • M.A., Psychology, San Jose State University, 2000
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Hawaii-Hilo, 1998

Curriculum Vitae

Awards and Recognitions

  • Global Engagement Champion, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Center for Global Engagement, June 2021
  • Longview Foundation, Global Teaching Mentor, 2020-2021
  • Frances Speight Clark Faculty Enrichment and Development Award, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, 2020


Select Journal Articles (2020 to present)

*Indicates graduate student or classroom teacher 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Kambutu, J., & Thapa, S. (in press). Educational policies in early childhood programs in Kenya and Nepal: Challenging unjust binary mindset around curricula policies and practices. Policy Futures in Education. 


*Sorrells, C., Madrid Akpovo, S., & *Leclerc, M. (2023). The infant/toddler teacher as willful subject: A critical narrative analysis of gendered discursive regimes in US-based early care and education. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 0(0).


Thapa, S., & Nganga, L., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2022). Early childhood teachers’ understandings of children’s emotional lives Nepal and Kenya: A majority world perspective. Early Education and Development. 


*Sorrells, C. & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2022) “You can hold two things to be true at the same time”: The emotional duality of early childhood teachers’ experiences during COVID-19. Journal of Research in Childhood Education DOI:10.1080/02568543.2022.2044415 


Madrid Akpovo, S., *Neessen, S., Nganga, L., & *Sorrells, C. (2021). Staying with discomfort: Early childhood teachers’ emotional themes to children’s peer culture aggression. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 


Arndt, S., Madrid Akpovo, S., Tesar, M., Han, T. K., *Huang, F. & *Halladay, M. (2021). Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB): Examining the intercultural understandings of preservice-teachers’ using a virtual cross-cultural university-based program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2021.1880994


Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Halladay, M. (2020). Learning to see teaching as a cultural activity: US preservice-teachers’ significant experiences with Nepali mentor-teachers during an international field experience. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,34(1), 59-7, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1692107 


Thapa, S., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2020). Cultural humility in an intercultural mentor-mentee relationship: Overcoming Emotional “borders and borderlands” of Nepal-mentors and US-mentees. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. DOI/pdf/10.1080/02188791.2020.1848798?needAccess=true 


Lash, M., Madrid Akpovo, S. & Cushner, K. (2020). Developing the intercultural competency of early childhood preservice teachers: Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 


Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). How neocolonialism and globalization affects the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, DOI: 10.1177/1463949120929471 


Kambutu, J., Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). Privatization of early childhood education (ECE): Implications for social justice in Kenya and Nepal. Policy Futures in Education,  DOI:10.1177/1478210320922111 


Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., & Kambutu, J. (2020). Culturally inclusive and contextually appropriate practices: Rethinking perspectives, practices, polices, and experiences in early childhood education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 34(1), 2-5, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1697153 


Select Books (2018 to present)

Madrid Akpovo, S., Moran, M.J., Brookshire, R. (2018)Collaborative cross-cultural research methodologies in early care and education contextsNew York, NY: Routledge Press.  


Select Book Chapters (2020 to present)

Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., *Abou-Zied, N., & *McBride, R. (forthcoming). Cross-cultural early childhoods. In Marek Tesar (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Social Justice in Early Childhoods and Childhood Studies.  


Thapa, S.Nganga, L., Kambutu, J., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (in press). Changing global contexts and impacts of neocolonialism in schooling. In Douglas Bourn (Ed.) Global Education on Social Justice Education. 


Nganga, L., Thapa, S., Kambutu, J., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2022). Special needs children in Majority-World communities: Policies and practices in Kenya and Nepal. In P. Wood (ED) Policy, Provision and Practice for Special Educational Needs and Disability: Perspectives across countries.  


Young, D., Madrid Akpovo, S., & Thapa, S. (2020). Culturally responsive awareness and competence curriculum in early childhood pre-service teachers. In I. Jones and M. Lin. (Eds),Critical issues in early childhood teacher education: A US perspective. New York, NY: Information Age Publishing. 


Madrid Akpovo, S., *Baldwin, & *Belbase, S. (2020). International field experiences: An ethnographic case study of one Minority-World student’s development of intercultural empathy and sensitivity. Critical issues in early childhood teacher education: An international perspective. New York, NY:  Information Age Publishing. 

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