Dr. Pratim Sengupta

Pratim is a Professor of Learning Sciences and STEM Education at the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education. Until Oct 2019, he also held the Research Chair of STEM education. He co-directs the Mind, Matter & Media Lab along with Dr. Marie Claire Shanahan.

Research Outline

My research sits at the intersection of modelling complex systems, multi-agent programming languages, art and social justice. (Prospective students: please see this page before sending me an inquiry)

As a technology designer, I build and lead the design of immersive, interactive and public computational systems for modelling complex phenomena. As an empirically and historically grounded theorist, I draw upon literatures on complex systems, computer science, critical theories, learning sciences, science education, and social justice. Across the different projects, my work develops critical phenomenological approaches for integrating computing in public education, in justice-oriented ways. Updated list of publications can be found on Google Scholar.

I began my research career in education focusing on conceptual change and integration of computational modelling in K-12 science classrooms. Over the next decade, along with m3lab alums Dr. Amy Farris, Dr. Amanda Dickes and Dr. Kara Krinks, this body of work focused on refining theories of conceptual change in science education using computational modelling, developing theoretical frameworks and pedagogical approaches for integrating computational modelling in science and STEM classrooms, grounded in the "science as practice" perspective.

This work involved a deep entrenchment in K-12 schools in US and Canada and led to a fundamental reorientation in how I approach technology design in the Learning Sciences: centering learners and teachers, not technology. In the book Voicing Code in STEM, we proposed computational heterogeneity as a Bakhtianian model for coding in K-12 STEM, arguing against technocentrism and device-centered approaches in computing and STEM education. Voicing Code also lays the foundation of a critical phenomenology of computing and technoscience education, and I see this work as a fundamental push for a axiological transformation of how we frame computing in education.

Current research projects are largely collaborative with Dr. Marie-Claire Shanahan and graduate student members of the Mind, Matter & Media Lab. A central focus of this work is Public Computing. Our goal is to make public and open the "inner sanctum" of technological worlds, in ways that center voices and experiences from the margins of discipline and society. Computing environments that we have developed have been installed at the Museum of Modern Art - New York (Cullman Research Center), and Telus SPARK (Calgary), Studio Bell - Canada's National Music Center (Calgary), and the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity (Banff).

I am working closely with Dr. Ariel Ducey in Sociology and Dr. Martina Ann Kelly in Medicine (both at UCalgary) on Critical Data Sense, a transdiscipinary research project that seeks to model, along with the public, the elusive moral horizons in our technologized experiences of pain.

Brief Bio

I completed my PhD in Learning Sciences and a Masters degree in Physics from Northwestern University, USA. My undergraduate degrees, also in Physics, are from Presidency University, Kolkata and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India. I have spent many years in physics research, although I did not complete my PhD in Physics at Northwestern - and for many of these years since high school, I have studied and modelled complex systems.

I began my professorial life at Vanderbilt University immediately after my PhD in Learning Sciences. At Vanderbilt, I also led the establishment of the Learning Sciences PhD program in 2011. In 2015, I moved to the University of Calgary as a dual career hire with my partner, sociologist Dr. Pallavi Banerjee.

I serve as an Executive Editor of Cognition and Instruction and a Senior Editor (STEM Education) for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. I am also honoured to be a Visiting and Adjunct Professor at Tata Institute for Fundamental Research - Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education in Mumbai, India.

I am a year-round cyclist and an advocate for active mobilities. I led the Infrastructure Group at Bike Calgary until recently.

Notable Awards / Recognitions

  • NSF CAREER Award (2012) from the US National Science Foundation

  • Paul D. Fleck Award / Fellowship from the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity (Canada) (2019)

  • Research Chair of STEM Education, University of Calgary (until Oct 2019)

  • Visiting Professorship (Honorary) at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research - Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, India (2020 - 2023)

  • Fellow of the International Society for Design and Development in Education (ISDDE.org), inducted in 2019

  • Several "best paper" awards and nominations at various international conferences.