Rebeccah Nelems

Associate faculty

Leadership Studies

Rebeccah Nelems' research focuses on the following key areas:

  • Leading Sustainable, Decolonizing Transformative Change: Relational, Eco-centric and Decolonizing Leadership Theory and Practices; Eco-centric Systems Leadership; Organizational Change Leadership.
  • Eco-Social Empathy and Advocacy: Youth Climate Justice Movement; Intersectional Social Justice; Community engagement; Race & Gender Theory; Democracy and Pluralism.
  • Engaged Research Design, Methodologies and Methods: Collaborative Research Design; Decolonizing and Indigenous Methodologies and Methods; Participatory, Arts-Based and Nature-Based Methods; Mixed Methods Design.
  • Interactive, experiential teaching methods to facilitate collaborative learning and engaged scholarship.

Her recent publications focus on democracy and diversity, teaching collaborative change leadership, climate change and eco-social empathy.


Teaching in the School of Leadership at Royal Roads enables Nelems to weave together her experience in the following areas:

  • 18 years as a dynamic educator of blended, technology-enabled, experiential, and learner-centred curriculums in academic, professional and organizational settings
  • A lifelong commitment to decolonizing advocacy work with Indigenous and racialized communities
  • More than 25 years leading collaborative research and advising leadership for government, UN, research, health, donor, international, community-based and non-profit agencies (ranging from $1 to $240 million annual budgets)
  • Active membership in interdisciplinary networks of leaders and scholars, including the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (, the Cedar Trees Institute (CTI) of which Nelems is co-founder (, UVic’s Centre for Global Studies and the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (

Nelems is the recipient of numerous awards for academic excellence and engaged scholarship, including three of Canada’s most prestigious doctoral awards from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation (PETF), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the Canadian Federation of University Women. Her doctoral research was also recognized by the University of Victoria (UVic) through six different awards, including the President’s Research Scholarship, and the Roy E. L. Watson Graduate Scholarship.


PhD, Sociology/Cultural, Social and Political Thought

University of Victoria

MA, Social and Political Thought

York University

BA, Philosophy/Literary Studies

University of Toronto


Agger-Gupta, Niels and Rebeccah Nelems. (In Press). Mapping the Action-Oriented Inquiry Process. In Doug Hamilton, Elizabeth Childs, Devina Dandar and Richard Kool (Eds.), Active Learning for Real World Inquiry. Creative Commons.

Lickers, Michael, Teara Fraser, Catherine Etmanski, Cheryl Heykoop, Niels Agger-Gupta and Rebeccah Nelems. (In Press). Indigenous Scholar in Residence. In Doug Hamilton, Elizabeth Childs, Devina Dandar and Richard Kool (Eds.), Active Learning for Real World Inquiry. Creative Commons.

Nelems, Rebeccah. (In Press). What the Tree Canopies Know: Other Wise Democracies. In Keith Cherry, Fonna Forman, Jeanne Morefield, Rebeccah Nelems, Pablo Ouziel, David Owen, Oliver Schmidtke and James Tully (Eds.), Democratic Multiplicity: Perceiving, Enacting & Integrating Democratic Diversity. Cambridge University Press.

Nelems, Rebeccah. (2019). Short Walk Home. In Catriona Sandilands (Ed.), Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times. Caitlin Press.

Nelems, Rebeccah J, & Theo, LJ (Nic), Eds. (2018). Exploring Empathy: Its Propagations, Perimeters and Potentialities. Brill.

Nelems, Rebeccah J, & Theo, LJ (Nic) Theo. (2018). Introduction. In Rebeccah J Nelems and LJ (Nic) Theo (Eds.), Exploring Empathy: Its Propagations, Perimeters and Potentialities (pp. vii-x). Brill. (Co-author)

Nelems, Rebeccah J. (2018). What is this thing called Empathy? In Rebeccah J Nelems and LJ (Nic) Theo (Eds.), Exploring Empathy: Its Propagations, Perimeters and Potentialities (pp. 17-40). Brill.

Nelems, Rebeccah J. (2015). The Horizons of Empathic Experience. In Veronica Wain and Paulus Pimomo (Eds.), Encountering Empathy: Interrogating the Past, Envisioning the Future (pp. 165-176). Inter-Disciplinary Press.

Nelems, Rebeccah. (2021.) Video: “Decolonizing Research and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR).” Royal Roads University.

Cedar Trees Institute, UVic. (2020). Human Rights in a Decolonizing Key: British Columbia Office of the Human Rights Commissioner (BCOHRC) Baseline Study Framework. BCOHRC.

Blanchet-Cohen, N., & Nelems, R. (2013). A Child-centered Evaluation of a Psychosocial Program for Children Post-Disaster. Children, Youth and Environments 23(1):23-42.

Blanchet-Cohen, N., & Nelems, R. (2010). Preparing children for disasters: Evaluation of the ready and resilient program. Journal of Emergency Management 8(4):17-24.

Nelems, Rebeccah, & Rebecca Lee. (2009). Evaluation Synthesis: Livelihoods Evaluations 2006-2008. Oxford: Oxfam Great Britain.