Professor Shelly Grabe

Shelly in Tanzania

Contact Info

Room 259, Social Sciences 2
831-459-3519 (Psychology Dept Fax)
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

  • Social movements, activism, and justice
  • Women’s resistance/activism/empowerment
  • Human rights
  • Globalization/neoliberalism
  • Transnational intersectionality/Decolonial feminism
  • Structural inequities

My research focuses on the structural and individual components of women’s rights violations and social justice in the context of globalization. In partnership with grassroots women’s organizations in Nicaragua and Tanzania, my work intends to center the activism and voices of marginalized women who have limited structural power in society.  I have used a multimethod approach from within psychology to provide the currently missing, but necessary links between transnational feminism, the discourse on women’s human rights and globalization, and the international attention given to women’s “empowerment” to help inform strategies and interventions that can contribute to social change for women. I use frameworks informed by feminist liberation psychology, human rights discourse, decolonial feminism, and social justice to organize my research, teaching, and outreach.

I am currently working on two transnational projects exploring:

  • land ownership, civic participation, and violence among women in Tanzania
  • the role of the grass-roots social movement in promoting justice for women in Nicaragua.

I have also partnered with local groups in California to support outreach surrounding sexuality and violence against girls and women.

Cartoon on Cultural Perspective
U.N. Women Logo


My work focuses on collaborations with grassroots organizations in Nicaragua and Tanzania.  I have an ongoing relationship with several members and organizations within the Women’s Autonomous Movement in Nicaragua (Movimiento Autónomo de Mujeres), namely with the Xochilt-Acalt Women’s Center.  In Tanzania I work with the Maasai Women’s Development Organization, a grassroots organization that works toward women’s empowerment by addressing women’s social, cultural, political, and economic human rights.

In California I have worked closely with students and members of the Santa Cruz community as a field studies advisor, scholar, and member of the community.  I have supervised a variety of field placements for undergraduate students interested in positive social change for women. For example, I partnered with the Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission to create an intern position for a student to assist in writing a report to comply with the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Santa Cruz County. In another community project, together with a graduate student, I partnered with the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center to evaluate a local sex ed curriculum targeted at marginalized youth and aimed at improving healthy communication surrounding the body.  I have also supervised undergraduate students interning at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center.


  • Psych 140G: Women’s Lives in Context
  • Psych 140L: Women’s Bodies and Psychological Well-Being
  • Psych 159M: Transnational Feminism, Senior Seminar
  • Psych 159X: Psychology and Social Activism, Senior Seminar
  • Psych 193: Field Study
  • Psych 194A: Advanced Research in Social Psychology
  • Psych 231: Social Psychology Colloquium
  • Psych 256: Transnational Feminism, Grad Seminar
  • Psych 248: Survey Methods, Grad Seminar