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Sapna Thapa

  • Assistant Professor - add'l
  • Associate Professor


  • Doctor of Education, Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    University of Sheffield
  • Master of Arts, Early Childhood Education and Teaching
    University of Sheffield

Recent and upcoming courses

Spring 2024

Fall 2024


Sapna Thapa is an Associate Professor for Early Childhood Studies in the School of Urban Education. Her research areas include cross-cultural investigations of equity, quality, diversity and inter-cultural exchange in early childhood teacher education. Her priority and passion is to prepare early childhood educators who understand the cultural and social nature of teaching and learning. Her publications include articles related to policies on equity and quality in early childhood education as well as culturally appropriate development and learning.

Prior to joining Metropolitan State University, she was an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She was an advisory board member of the research project titled "Global visions through mobilizing networks: Co-developing intercultural music teacher education in Finland, Israel and Nepal".

Besides academics, Sapna is involved in supporting nonprofit organizations based in Nepal such as Orchid Garden Nepal, an early childhood and elementary school that serves children from lower socio-economic status, and Lunch for Nepal, an initiative that provides lunch as an incentive for children and families. Sapna enjoys having deep and meaningful conversations with preschoolers, early childhood educators, reading both fiction and non-fiction, watching movies and traveling to places on her bucket list.

Sapna has a masters and a doctorate in early childhood education from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.


  • Thapa, S., Akpovo, M. S., Nganga, L(under review). “Cross-national study on teachers' understanding of children’s socio-emotional development in Nepal and Kenya: A sociocultural perspective” Submitted to Early Education and Development Special Issue – “Studying Children’s Social-Emotional Development in School and at Home through a Cultural Lens”.
  • Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S. & Nganga, L. (accepted). Critical internationalization and cultural scripts of global teacher preparation: Western privilege and entitlement during international field experiences in Nepal and Kenya. In C. Ullom & N. Guler (Eds), At school in the world: Developing globally engaged teachers. New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
  • Thapa, S & Akpovo, M. S. (2020). “Cultural Humility in an intercultural mentor-mentee relationship: Overcoming Emotional “borders and borderlands” of Nepali-mentors and US-mentees”. Asia Pacific Journal of Education.
  • Kambutu, J., Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., Thapa, S., & Mwangi, A. (2020). “Privatization of Early Childhood Education (ECE): Implications for Social Justice in Nepal and Kenya”. Policy Futures in Education.
  • Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & Mwangi, A. (2020). “How socioeconomics and neocolonialism affect the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya: A cross-cultural perspective”. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.
  • Akpovo, S. M., Thapa, S. and M. Halladay (2020). “Learning to see teaching as a cultural activity: US preservice-teachers’ significant experiences with Nepali mentor-teachers’ during an international student-teaching internship”. Journal of Research in Childhood Education.
  • Treacy, D. S., Thapa, S. & Neupane, S. K (2021). Where the social stigma has been overcome: musician-teachers’ negotiating identity and place in Nepali society. In A. Kalio, S. Karlsen, K. Marsh, E. Saether & H. Westerlund (eds.,) The politics of Diversity in Music Education.
  • Thapa, S. (2019). Assessing intercultural competencies in teacher education – a missing link? In H. Westerlund, S. Karlsen and H. Partti (eds.,). Visions for intercultural music teacher education. Springer (Open Access).
  • Young, D., Akpovo, S. D. & Thapa, S. (2019). Culturally responsive awareness and competence in early childhood teacher candidates. In I. Jones & M. Lin (eds.,) Critical Issues in Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 2: International perspectives. Chinese American Educational Research and Development Association Book Series. IAP-Information Age Publishing.
  • Thapa, S., Madrid, S. and Young, D. (2017). Collaboration as a research tool: The narratives of three early childhood researchers. In S. Madrid, M. J. Moran, R. Brookshire and M. Buchanan (eds.) Collaborative Cross Cultural Research Methodologies in Diverse Early Care and Education Contexts. Routlege

Conference Proceedings

  • Thapa, S. & Kumaran, A. (2021). “Exploring the Emotional Experiences of faculty while teaching online during a pandemic”. Presented at the virtual 2021 AAC&U (Association of American Colleges & Universities).
  • Lea, V., Hines, E. & Thapa, S. (2020). “The Intercultural Development Inventory: cultural hegemony or counter hegemony?. Presented at the virtual 2020 NAME (National Association for Multicultural Education) Conference.
  • Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & Mwangi, A. (2020). “Exploring the consequences of neocolonialism and globalization on the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya”. Presented at the virtual 2020 American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) International Conference, San Francisco, California.
  • Thapa, S., Akpovo, M. S., Larkin, K. and Beltran, K. (2019) “Cultural humility and Western entitlement: Uncovering the emotional “borderlands” of Nepali-mentors and US-mentees when constructing a mentor-mentee relationship”. Presented at the 27th Re-Conceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) Conference 2019, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
  • Thapa, S. and Kohlmeir, T. (2019) “Inquiry Based Teaching and Learning: Experiences from Teacher Training in China” Presented at Office of Academic Programs and Educational Innovation (OPID) conference, UW-Madison.
  • Thapa, S. and Thapa, S. (2019) “Effective Interventions: Games and Activities to nurture Young Children in Adverse situations” Presented at the 41st Early Childhood Conference. University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA
  • Lea, V., Thapa, S. and Hines, E. (2019) “Disrupting racism, homophobia and cultural hegemony in teacher education programs: Infusing cultural responsiveness and social justice into curricula” Presented at Office of Academic Programs and Educational Innovation (OPID) conference, UW-Madison
  • Lea, V., Hines, E. and Thapa, S. (2018) “Social justice curricula in teacher education: Disrupting systemic division, racism, nationalism, and homophobia” Presented at the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.
  • Akpovo, S. M., Thapa, S. and Baldwin, N. (2018) “Rethinking intercultural competence: Understanding the co-constructed and negotiated aspects of intercultural relationships during an international field experience in Nepal” Presented at the Re-conceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE) Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Thapa, S. (Key-Note Speech, 2017). Seeking an identity: recognizing, reducing and repatriating structural and systemic hegemony in education and music education. Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME) Conference, 2017 - Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Treacy, D., Thapa, S. and Neupane, S. (March 2017). Cultural renewal and change: The role of global influences in Nepali music and music education. Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME) Conference, 2017 -Kathmandu, Nepal.

Book/Article Reviews

2020: Reviewer for AERA Conference submissions for the 2021 AERA Annual Meeting.

2020: Reviewer of Manuscript for International Perspectives of Education and Society, Emerald Publishing.

2020: Reviewer of Manuscript for Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Taylor and Francis.

2019: Reviewer for AERA Conference submissions for the 2020 AERA Annual Meeting.

2018: Reviewer of Manuscript for Global Studies of Childhood, Sage Journals

2018: Reviewer of Bista, K., Sharma, S., & Raby, R. L. (Eds.). (2019). Higher Education in Nepal: Policies and Perspectives. Routledge.

2017: Reviewer of Z. Brown & H. Perkins (eds.,) (2019) “Beyond the Conventional: Using Innovative Methods in Early Years Research”. Routledge.

2021 External panelist for PhD Candidate: Kathmandu University.