Shaheen Shariff

Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE)

Faculty of Law


Photo of Shaheen Shariff

Associate Professor

Education Building, Rm 244 [Map]
3700 rue McTavish Montreal Quebec Canada
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1Y2
514.398.5396 [Office]


PhD Simon Fraser University, Legal Issues in Education
MA Simon Fraser University, Educational Psychology
BA Simon Fraser University, Criminology and Education

Curriculum vitae

Description of research/teaching activities

My research and teaching are grounded in the study of legal considerations that impact educational policy and practice. I am currently principal investigator on three SSHRC funded projects: 1) to study school policy and legal boundaries involving cyber-bullying and internet harassment; 2) to study the impact of Quebec’s intercultural policies on ethnic students and 3) an international study that looks at online interactions of children and youth and stakeholder responsibilities. I am an associate of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill’s Law Faculty.

Research Interests

School policy, leadership, education law, censorship, human rights, legal pluralism, legal issues relating to on-line social communications (includes cyber-bullying, cyber-libel, cyber-threats); constitutional law with focus on balancing free expression and privacy on-line; tort law (cyber-libel; negligence in the school context); criminal law (relating to on-line criminal harassment); secularism and/or religion in schools; competing rights/values in schools. Social responsibility by corporate intermediaries and technology corporations relating to on-line communications; sensitivity and social responsibility of news media.


Shaheen Shariff, Ph.D., Department of Integrated Studies, Faculty of Education, McGill University: Dr. Shariff is an Associate Professor and international expert on legal issues that have emerged in relation to on-line social communications such as cyber-bullying, free expression, privacy, libel and criminal harassment. Her research and teaching are grounded in the study of law as it impacts educational policy, pedagogy and practice. Specifically, her work addresses the emerging policy vacuum on legal and ethical limits of on-line expression, the tendency of policy makers to react and over-regulate as opposed to the need for increased education, dialogue and awareness about the limits of free expression in virtual society. Her work identifies limits on student free expression in school and cyber-space – such as the line between joking and cyber-threats; privacy rights, cyber-safety, cyber-libel; and school supervision. She has developed guidelines for school administrators, teachers and parents regarding the extent of their legal responsibilities to address cyber-bullying in various contexts. Her work also focuses on human rights, constitutional and tort law as they inform institutional responsibilities to provide safe and productive school and work environments; censorship and diversity in schools. She was invited to participate on a United Nations panel on cyber-hate chaired by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, and has served on an international advisory committee working with UNESCO and CIDA and the International Institute for Educational Planning to develop a toolkit for use globally in drafting Teacher Codes of Conduct. She was also recently a panelist with the (US) First Amendment Center’s online symposium which featured her scholarship on the legal implications for educational institutions in relation to policy issues around cyber-bullying.

Dr. Shariff’s publications are listed at and include the following books: 1) Cyber-bullying: Issues and solutions for the school, the classroom,and the home, Routledge (Taylor & Frances Group, U.K.); 2) Confronting Cyber-bullying: What schools need to know to control misconduct and avoid legal consequences, Cambridge University Press, New York. Dr. Shariff is Principal Investigator on three collaborative national and international projects studying the phenomenon of cyber-bullying, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). She has presented her work internationally at the American Education Research Association (AERA) in San Francisco, Chicago and New York; Learning Conference in Grenada, Spain; Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, UK. Her keynote addresses include the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) conference in Melbourne, Australia, April, 2010, the ExBus Conference, University of Aarhus in Copenhagen, 2009; Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education (CAPSLE); Centre for Innovation, Law and Policy; Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers.

Impact of Scholarship: Media Relations

Media Relations Surveys have disclosed Shariff among McGill’s top 20 academic experts regularly cited/quoted nationally and internationally in all forms of media reporting (print, television, radio, Internet).

Refereed Grants & Fellowship

Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

National 2009-2012 SSHRC Standard Grant, Principal Investigator: Dr. Shaheen Shariff, McGill University. Co-investigators: Dr. Tanya Beron, University of Calgary; Dr. Dawn Zinga, Brock University; Dr. France Bouthillier, McGill University. Title: Developing an interactive virtual forum to study children’s on-line interactions and stakeholder responsibilities to promote cyber-safety for Canada’s youngest technology users technology users.

International 2006-2008 SSHRC International Opportunities Fund, Principal Investigator: Dr. Shaheen Shariff, McGill University Inter-university collaborative project involving 8 countries Title: Cyber-bullying: A project to address the policy vacuum & develop international guidelines for schools.

National 2007-2010 SSHRC Standard Grant. Principal Investigator: Dr. Tanya Beron, University of Calgary Co-Investigators: Shaheen Shariff, McGill University, Faye Mishna, University of Toronto Ross Heatherington, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children Title: The impact of cyber-bullying.

2005-2008 SSHRC Standard Research Grant, Principal Investigator: Dr. Shaheen Shariff, McGill University Co-investigators: Margaret Jackson, Wanda Cassidy, Simon Fraser University Colleen Sheppard, McGill Faculty of Law Title: Cyber-bullying: Are schools obliged to prevent bullying in a virtual school environment?

2004-2005 SSHRC Strategic Multicultural Initiative, Principal Investigator: Dr. Shaheen Shariff, McGill University Co-investigators: Dr. Mela Sarkar, Dr. Michelle Hartman McGill Faculty of Education and Institute of Islamic Studies Title: Investigating inclusion: From educational policies to practices.

2002-2003 SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. Title: A system on trial: Legal obligations of schools to prevent bullying.

Quebec Ministry of Education

2009-2011 Programme de soutien a la formation continue du personnel scolaire, Principal Investigator: Shaheen Shariff, McGill University Title: Engaging Educators with Quebec’s Kids Through Teacher Education and Professional Development on E-Q-Kids Website to reduce Cyber-violence.

Montréal Centre for Immigration et Métropolis (IM)

2005-2007 Principal Investigator, Shaheen Shariff. Project 4.7, Title: Exploring legally defensible policy standards for Quebec educators: Safety, equality and citizenship through reasonable accommodation of students from diverse backgrounds.

2005-2007 Principal Investigator, Shaheen Shariff. Project 4.6, Title: Reasonable accommodation of immigrant and refugee students in cyber-space: Investigating the policy and programming challenges of inclusive student discourse in the information age.