Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn headshot

Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn, PhD

Pronouns: She, her, hers


Director, Teaching Across Borders Program

Werklund School of Education, Undergraduate Programs in Education

Director, Apoema Research Circle

Werklund School of Education

Assistant Professor

Werklund School of Education, Specialization, Counselling Psychology

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.220.3631


Office: EDT620

For media enquiries, contact

Clayton MacGillivray
Content and Media Specialist

Email: clmacgil@ucalgary.ca
Twitter: @UCalgaryEduc



Educational Background

Ph.D. Educational Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 2020

M.A. Educational Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 2014

B.A. Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 2010


Dr. Lacerda-Vandenborn was born and grew up in Curitiba, Brazil, making Canada home in 2004. At Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, BC), she completed a BA in Psychology (2009), and an MA (2014) and PhD (2020) in Educational Psychology. She has vast research project management experience, having worked in different disciplines and universities on a variety of local, pan-university, and international projects, and Indigenous community-led and based educational and child welfare programs in western Canada and Brazil. 

Professional & Community Affiliations

  • Board Member, Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics Board. University of Calgary
  • Director, Teaching Across Borders Program, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Co-coordinator, Community Engagement: An Ethical Practice Certificate, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Editorial Advisor. Journal of Indigenous Social Development. https://ucalgary.ca/journals/indigenous-social-development 
  • Editorial Advisor. Canadian Journal of Child Psychology.
  • Editorial Advisor. Children and Youth Services Review https://www.journals.elsevier.com/children-and-youth-services-review 
  • Editorial Advisor. Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education. https://www.springer.com/journal/10780
  • Member of the International Advisory Committee - Office of Internalization. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. 
  • Member of the Undergraduate Programs in Education Scholarship Committee. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Member of the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology- Division 24 - American Psychological Association.
  • Member of the International Society for Dialogical Science (ISDS). 
  • Member of the Indigenous Research Institute (IRI) - Simon Fraser University


Areas of Research

Research Program

Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn is an Assistant Professor in Counselling Psychology and the Director of Apoema Research Circle 

Guided by interrelated principles of collaboration, interdisciplinarity, social impact, and community engagement, her research program is concerned with social implications of the translations and applications of theoretical disciplinary psychology concepts and ideas into social institutional practices, particularly those concerned with child welfare and mental health systems. 

Drawing from critical hermeneutic philosophy and socio-cultural and critical theories, her work considers issues of epistemological justice such as whose knowledge is offered as valid and is consequently implemented in social institutional practice and legislation, which research methodologies and tools count as evidence, and whose axiological principles hold weight and are reinforceable in the academy and society. 

Her body of work actively seeks the revisiting, revising, and re-envisioning of the individualistic presuppositions from which research, teaching, and service are offered in the discipline of psychology and other social sciences. A central concept she proposes, the communal self, serves as a theoretical space and framework for social equity, wherein intersectional scholars and citizens can consider the decolonization of themselves, their beliefs and practices.The communal and social justice-oriented nature of her research program aligns neatly with Indigenist and intercultural scholarship. Partnerships with Indigenous scholars and communities represent a great part of her research activity, particularly around trauma and decolonization of mental health. As a non-Indigenous scholar, she recognizes that the responsibility to decolonize psychological education, practice, and research rests heavily on non-Indigenous folks such as herself. In both her country of origin, Brazil, and Canada, she is seeking parallel paths forward to honour Indigenous ways of being, seeing, and moving through the world in accordance with Indigenous ethics. 

  • Theoretical and philosophical psychology
  • Critical cultural hermeneutics
  • Communal selfhood
  • Communal ethics
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Community-engaged scholarship
  • Relational and participatory methodologies
  • Intercultural understandings
  • Social policy and social justice
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Child welfare systems
  • Indigenous research paradigms;
  • Indigenist philosophy and praxis
  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous allyship and relations


Course number Course title Semester
EDER 655.20 Ethics of Community Engagement. Community Engagement: An Ethical Practice Certificate Fall 2021
EDER 655.18 LEC 02 02 Capstone Project in Indigenous Education 2021
EDER 655.15 LEC 02 02 Making a Case for Decolonization 2020
EDER 655.16 LEC 03 03 Decolonizing through Indigenous Arts and Media 2020
EDER 70306 LEC 01 01 Special Topics in Educational Theory 2021
EDUC 450 SEC 05 S05 Diversity in Learning 2020
EDUC 530 SEC 09 S09 Indigenous Education 2020
EDUC 450 SEC 06 S06 Diversity in Learning 2021
EDUC 520 SEC 03 S03 Interdisciplinary Learning 2020
EDUC 530 SEC 08 S08 Indigenous Education 2021
EDER 655.25 Community Engaged Project Spring 2022


Projects that Inform the Apoema Research Circle
  • Mapping social service provision: Communal intercultural perspectives and insights. 2021-2022, Principal Investigator

Funding: Werklund School of Education Office of Internationalization- Advancing Intercultural Capacity Grant ($2,500)

Co-Investigators: Dr. Patricia Danyluk & Dr. Tanya Mudry (Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary), Dr. Rita Helena Gomes & Dr. Denise Silva Vasconcelos (Community Psychology & Social Policy, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brazil), Dr. Marta Patrão & Dr. Teresa Forte (Social, Political, and Territorial Sciences, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal).

  • The experiences of Indigenous school psychology trainees working with Indigenous communities. 2020- 2021, Co-Investigator.

Funding: MITACS Accelerate ($300,000)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Meadow Schroeder (Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary). 

  • What does reconciliation mean to me? 2020- 2021, Co-Investigator.

Funding: iitaapohtop Grant Competition ($10,000)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Liza Lorenzetti (Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary).

Co-Investigators: Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt & Dr. Patricia Danyluk (Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary), Mr. Mick Elliot (Industry).

  • Relational Pedagogies for Engaging Students in Online Indigenous Education. 2019- 2021- Principal Investigator

Funding: Taylor Institute Teaching and Learning- Development and Innovation Grant ($7,250)

Co-Investigators: Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt, Dr. Patricia Danyluk, Dr. Aubrey Hanson, Dr. Teresa Fowler, Dr. Jennifer Markides, & Jennifer MacDonald (PhD candidate) (Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary).

  • Ethical community engagement: A cross-cultural and Indigenous collaboration between Canadian and Brazilian Indigenous teacher education programs. 2019-2020- Principal Investigator

Funding: University of Calgary Research Grants (URGC) Development Stream ($9,975).

Co-Investigators: Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt (Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary), Dr. Denise Silva & Dr. Rita Helena Gomes (Community Psychology & Social Policy, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Brazil).

  • Walking Together: A mini-documentary of an Indigenous-non-Indigenous community-engaged research partnership to return children in care home (2019-2022- Principal Investigator

Funding: Werklund School of Education- Community Engage Grant ($3,000).

  • An Indigenist-based evaluation of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itatas Family Group Conferencing Program. 2018- 2020, Co-Investigator.                                                                                                       

Funding: ($70,000) Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba Provincial Government and Government of Canada (2018-2020).

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michael A. Hart (Faculty of Social Work & Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement Office, University of Calgary).

Co-Investigator: Don Robinson, MA (Ma Mawi WiChi Itata Centre, Winnipeg, MB).

  • Apoema Project: Exploring a Communally-constituted Self Approach to Child Welfare. 2016- 2018, Principal Investigator.

Funding: ($40,000) SSHRCs Doctoral Talent Award.


  • Doctoral Talent Award, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 2016
  • Graduate Fellowship Award, Simon Fraser University. 2014
  • 10th Annual Awards, Douglas College. 2007
  • University Transfer Program Award, Douglas College. 2006
  • Erm Fiorillo - Hal Davis CKNW Award, Douglas College. 2006