headshot photo of Dr. Michelle Samura

Dr. Michelle Samura

Associate Professor, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education
Attallah College of Educational Studies
Expertise: Spatial Design; Community Engagement; Belonging; Diversity; Visual Methodology
Office Location: Reeves Hall 105
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
University of California, San Diego, Bachelor of Arts
University of California, Santa Barbara, Master of Arts
University of California, Santa Barbara, Ph.D.


Dr. Michelle Samura is Associate Professor of Education and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in the Attallah College of Educational Studies. Dr. Samura primarily teaches in Chapman's undergraduate Integrated Educational Studies (IES) program, where she challenges students to think boldly and broadly about what it means to be an "educator" in today's society. Additionally, as the founding Co-Director of the Collaborate Initiative, she is engaged in efforts to reconceptualize purposes of higher education and develop ways to help people rethink where and how "learning" happens.

Dr. Samura’s research examines the intersections of space, race, and education. She is particularly interested in how a spatial approach offers a unique lens to more effectively examine varying levels of power and an accessible language to talk about the related dilemmas with which people wrestle. Drawing upon theories and methods from critical geography, visual sociology, education, architecture, and design, Dr. Samura recently launched the “Architecture of Belonging” project. The longitudinal study examines the role of space in the development of belonging and community in higher education settings. This work has a wide range of theoretical and pragmatic implications, such as offering an unconventional, student-informed approach to examine and address campus climate issues in higher education as well as K-12 settings; re-conceptualizing campus and classroom designs; and developing meaningful university-school-community partnerships.

Dr. Samura also is working on several other research projects including a study on emergent meanings of "Asian American-ness." She also is principal investigator of the “Connecting Communities” project that studies processes of collaboration among universities, schools, and communities. In addition to contributing to the research literature on university-community partnerships, the Connecting Communities project is informing the development of ongoing, mutually beneficial collaborations between Chapman and the surrounding neighborhood.

Dr. Samura's research and teaching have garnered a number of awards including selection as a semi-finalist for the 2011 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, recognition as one of the University of Michigan's National Center for Institutional Diversity Emerging Diversity Scholars, and recipient of the University of California All Campus Consortium On Research for Diversity Dissertation Fellowship. She also was awarded the 2015-2017 Outstanding Teaching Professorship Award, Chapman’s highest teaching honor.

Collaborate Initiative website

K-12 Teaching Experience

Dr. Samura earned her California Clear Single Subject Teaching Credential in Social Sciences from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She taught U.S. History, World History, U.S. Government, and Economics at Schurr High School in Montebello, CA. 


Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications