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Dr Christine Cunningham

Senior Lecturer

Staff Member Details
Telephone: +61 8 6304 6807
Campus: Mount Lawley  
Room: ML17.225  

Dr Christine Cunningham is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, who leads research projects studying educational administration, management and leadership and teaches about the latest developments in her research field from a comparative and cross-cultural educational context.

Current teaching

Unit Coordinator for:

  • EDU6185 - Research Preparation: Reviewing the Literature
  • EDU6186 - Research Preparation: Developing a Research Topic
  • EDU6160 - Leading Education in a Global Context
  • EDU6330 - Leading Education in a Global Context
  • EPA6161 - Global Perspectives of Educational Leadership (International in Zhejiang, China)
  • EDU6170 - Assessment in Education


Dr Cunningham’s research expertise is in international educational leadership. She currently co-leads an Australia-wide and international team of education researchers conducting, publishing and disseminating research about the effects of crises on educational leaders’ administrative practices in ‘Ring of Fire’ nations including Australia, Bolivia, New Zealand, China and Fiji. Dr Cunningham also supervises many PhD and Masters students and together they are asking questions to discover what are some of the best practices around the globe for school leaders wanting to administer excellent and safe learning environments.

Dr Christine Cunningham has an outstanding track record of teaching and learning and demonstrates a strong commitment to students based on the values of progressive education, diversity, social justice, and relationality.  She has led and contributed to significant and successful transnational programs within the University by leveraging her expertise in Chinese education and educational administration. She has taken on significant leadership roles around the conceptualisation, development, implementation and evaluation of new courses and units in the postgraduate suite of Master of Education by course work and by research programs.

Prior to joining academia, Dr Cunningham held leadership positions in schools in Australia, Timor Loro Sae and Bolivia. Her experiences beyond education include previous political representations as Deputy Mayor of a large local government council and she is a keen amateur percussionist and concert band participant.

Professional associations

  • 2015 - 2019: Elected Member of the City of Canning, Deputy Mayor and Ward Councillor
  • 2016 - 2018: School Board Member of Bannister Creek Primary School
  • 2018: School Board Member of Fremantle College

Research areas and interests

  • Educational administration, management and leadership (FOR: 390403); and
  • Comparative and cross-cultural education (FOR: 390401)


  • Bachelor of Professional Studies with Second Class Honours, Murdoch University.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education, The University of Western Australia.
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Murdoch University, 2010.

Research Outputs

Journal Articles

  • Striepe, M., Thompson, P., Robertson, S., Devi, M., Gurr, D., Longmuir, F., Taylor, A., Cunningham, C. (2023). Responsive, adaptive, and future-centred leadership in response to crisis: Findings from Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand. School Leadership and Management, 43(2), 104-124.
  • Cunningham, C. (2023). School leadership, female empowerment and China’s Rise. Management in Education, 37(2), 104–106.
  • Fogarty, S., Cunningham, C., Striepe, M., Rhodes, D. (2023). The provision of vocational education and training within contemporary political socio-economic conditions: a review of the literature. International Journal of Training Research, 2023(Article in press), 18 pages.

Journal Articles

  • Striepe, M., Cunningham, C. (2022). Gatekeepers, guides and ghosts: intermediaries impacting access to schools during COVID-19. Ethnography and Education, 2022(Article in Press), 18p.
  • Cunningham, C., Zhang, W., Striepe, M., Rhodes, D. (2022). Dual leadership in Chinese schools challenges executive principalships as best fit for 21st century educational development. International Journal of Educational Development, 89(March 2022), Article number 102531.
  • Striepe, M., Cunningham, C. (2022). Understanding educational leadership during times of crises: A scoping review. Journal of Educational Administration, 60(2), 133-147.
  • Cunningham, C., Hill, S., Zhang, W. (2022). Gender equality and educational leadership in Chinese schools. Power and Education, 14(1), 66-81.

Journal Articles

  • Zhang, W., Striepe, M., Cunningham, C. (2021). School leadership during the COVID-19 Crisis: A preliminary case study from China. Alternation: international journal for the study of Southern African literature and languages, 28(1), 225-250.
  • Fittock, S., Cunningham, C., Striepe, M. (2021). System leadership in Australian and Swedish education: What’s social justice got to do with it?. Access: critical perspectives on communication, cultural and policy studies, 41(2), 3-10.
  • Cunningham, C., Zhang, W., Barstow, C. (2021). Moral education in China and its critique. The Social Educator, 39(1), 3-13.
  • Harvankova, L., Cunningham, C., Striepe, M. (2021). “Mummy is meeting a teacher, play on the iPad”: Reflecting on educational leadership during COVID-19 lockdown in Australia. Management in Education, 2021(Article in Press), 5p..

Journal Articles

  • Fittock, S., Cunningham, C., Campbell-Evans, G. (2020). The Socialisation of WA Early Career Principals. Leading and Managing, 26(2), 14-31.
  • Nguyen, T., Cunningham, C., Paolino, A. (2020). An Investigation into Chinese Influence on the Current Curriculum of Bachelor of Business English Degrees at Vietnamese Universities. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 10(10), 1179-1190.
  • Loxton, J., Cunningham, C., Knaus, M. (2020). An investigation of Early Childhood Staff and Their Transition to the New Western Australian Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 45(7), 45-59.

Journal Articles

  • Cunningham, C. (2019). An investigation into school inspection policies in Western Australian state education performed by the Expert Review Group. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 18(1), 39-58.
  • Cunningham, C., Wandei, E. (2019). Critical reflections on postgraduate andragogy from the points of view of a Kenyan student and an Australian academic. Reflective Practice, 20(3), 305-324.

Journal Articles

  • Barwood, D., Penney, D., Cunningham, C. (2017). A paradox or a culture of acceptance? The idiosyncratic workforce delivering health education in lower secondary government schools in Western Australia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education, 8(3), 193-209.

Journal Articles

  • Barwood, D., Cunningham, C., Penney, D. (2016). What we know, what we do and what we could do: Creating an understanding of the delivery of health education in lower secondary government schools in Western Australia. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(11), 15-30.

Journal Articles

  • Cunningham, C., Coy, N. (2014). Understanding the need for fine-grained assessment. Australian Educational Leader, 36(3), 6-9.
  • Cunningham, C., Jackson, S. (2014). Leadership and the Australian Greens. Leadership, 11(1), 1-16.
  • Lyle, J., Cunningham, C., Gray, J. (2014). The New Australian Curriculum, Teachers and Change Fatigue. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(11), 45-64.
  • Cunningham, C. (2014). Decision-Making Processes and Educational Leadership in Australia. Leading and Managing, 20(1), 11-31.
  • Cunningham, C. (2014). Educational Leadership: What can China teach the West about inclusive decision making practices?. Journal of US-China Public Administration, 11(9), 773-789.

Journal Articles

  • Cunningham, C. (2013). The Australian Baccalaureate: A preliminary study. Curriculum Perspectives, 33(3), 46-57.

Journal Articles


  • Cunningham, C. (2011). Corrupted Principles and the Challenges of Critically Reflective Leadership. Peter Lang Publishing.

Research Projects

  • Research Project to Measure the Effectiveness of the Department of Education Western Australia Classroom Management Strategies (CMS) Foundation Program, Department of Education WA, Grant, 2015 ‑ 2016, $5,575.
  • A Comparative Analysis of Chinese and Australian Masters of Education Students' Insights into Leadership Models, Edith Cowan University, ECU Early Career Researcher - Grant, 2012 ‑ 2013, $22,555.

Research Student Supervision

Principal Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Providing vocational education and training in Western Australian secondary schools
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Problematising national education goals
  • Master of Education, Going 'full time': An exploration of vocational ballet training in Perth, Western Australia
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Experiences of ELICOS leaders during COVID-19 in Victoria

Associate Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy, An ethnographic study of Initial Teacher Education professionals' embodied policy work in Health and Physical Education in Western Australia and Wales
  • Master of Education, Leadership Beyond the Studio: Investigating Secondary School Dance Teachers' Striving for Leadership Positions

Principal Supervisor

  • Master of Education, The socialisation of early career principals in Western Australia
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Investigating the Efficacy of Teaching Practicum Supervision in Bhutan
  • Master of Education, Early childhood hass matters: An investigation of early childhood staff and their transition to the new Western Australian humanities and social sciences curriculum in 2017
  • Master of Education, Content and Frames of ©WeChat and Chinese State Media A critical literacy reflection of the narratives during the early stage of COVID-19 pandemic
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Inspiring Social Justice: Teacher educators’ experiences of Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Pedagogies in Initial Teacher Education units
  • Doctor of Philosophy, What we know, what we do and what we could do: Creating an understanding of the delivery of health education in lower secondary government schools in Western Australia
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Home and Away: The Effects of Patriotic Education on Chinese International Students in Australia Through a Critique of Identity Theories and Policy Myth Making
  • Doctor of Philosophy, A critique of the Vietnamese Bachelor of Business English
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Moving towards communication-oriented language teaching at the primary English level: A Vietnamese perspective

Co-principal Supervisor

  • Master of Education, The reality of reform: Teachers reflecting on curriculum reform in Western Australia

Associate Supervisor

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Searching for Equity in Positivity: A two-year case study of the effectiveness of the implementation of Positive Education in a West Australian public secondary school following a Year 7 cohort to Year 8.
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Muslim women in Australia and the netherlands: A multimodal enquiry into television documentary representations
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Headteachers in Difficult Circumstances: A Study of School Leaders in Post-Conflict, Post Disaster Nepal
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