University of Calgary

Janki Shankar

  • Professor
  • Clinical Practice
  • Disabilities
  • Family Issues & Family Violence
  • International Social Work
  • Leadership in Human Services

Research Interests

Health, Mental Health and Wellness:

Immigrant, Refugee, Ethno-Cultural, and Racialized Groups:

Trauma and Violence:

Critical Disability:


Currently Teaching


Janki Shankar is Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. She joined academia after 17 years of clinical experience as a social worker and therapist primarily in mental health and specialised vocational rehabilitation settings for people with severe disability in Sydney Australia.  She has also worked in West Africa and India.   Dr. Shankar’s research focuses on the challenges to integration and well-being arising from stigma, discrimination and racism experienced by immigrant workers and families, immigrant students and people with disabilities arising from mental illness and brain injury.  Her current research is on occupational safety, health and well being of immigrant and Canadian born workers in precarious employment settings and prevention of family violence and Children’s services intervention in immigrant families. Dr. Shankar has received several research awards as principal investigator and has been a coinvestigator/collaborator in many research projects. Her research has been funded by tri-council grants, namely Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and other major funding bodies like Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Policy Wise, Alberta Health, and Department of Labor, Government of Alberta. Dr. Shankar has the distinction of being one of the very few social work academics in Canada to receive tri-council funding for leading the research on occupational safety and well-being of new Canadians.    

Dr. Shankar’s scholarship includes over hundred refereed presentations and publications in international conferences and journals. She has been invited by Universities in Australia and India to talk about her research and serves on the examination committees of higher degree national and international students.  At a National level, she is a reviewer of research grant applications for major funders like SSHRC, Policy Wise (Alberta) and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR, British Columbia). As an Adjunct Professor at University Alberta since 2010,  she has  collaborated on research projects in the areas of aging and mental health, workplace health, family caregiving, supported employment and education,  taught in their mental health and addictions program, has provided research mentorship to junior professors on tenure track and been on the supervisory and examination committees of their doctoral students.  Besides research, Dr. Shankar has extensive teaching and higher degree student supervision experience. She teaches a wide range of courses in the areas of Diversity, Oppression and Social Justice, Cross Cultural Violence, Advanced Practice in Mental Health, Research and Critical Social Policy.  Her teaching philosophy and practices are strongly influenced by decolonizing pedagogies, critical race and post colonial theories.   

Research and Scholarly Activity

Dr. Shankar’s current research examines the perspectives of new Canadians on occupational safety and well being and the roles of stakeholders in minimizing the risk of workplace physical and psychological injury. Other areas include prevention of family violence and best practices to reduce the risk of Children’s Services interventions in new immigrant families. 

Current Research

Her current areas of research include: 

  • Occupational  health, safety and well being of new Canadians   
  • Domestic violence and settlement issues in immigrant families
  • Reducing risk of Children’s Services intervention in new Canadian families


PhD:  Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney, Australia

M.Phil: National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India 

MSW: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India  

Professional and Community Associations

Dr. Shankar is a member of the Alberta College of Social Workers, International Association of the Schools of Social Work, And Board Member of Indo Canadian Women’s Association. She has served on the Boards of Alberta Caregivers Association and Centre for Race Relations.

Awards - Research








Immigrant employees’ perspectives on occupational safety, work conditions and their return-to-work experiences after occupational injury, OHS Futures, Funded by OHS Futures Alberta,  Dept of Labor, Alberta ( PI)

Prevention and Early Intervention Best Practices for New Canadian Children, Youth and Families: (PI)


Experiencing Masculinities – Community Approaches to Working with Men for Well-Being and Violence Prevention. Funded by University of Calgary  (Co-Applicant and Symposium Lead for Central and Northern Region, Edmonton). 


Immigrant worker, service provider and employer perspectives on the occupational safety and work conditions of immigrant workers and their return-to-work experiences after occupational injury or illness, funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (PI)).


Optimizing food choices and practices in the perinatal period for immigrant women. Funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Co applicant)


Working Together: Engaging communities to end violence against women and girls: Preventing and reducing violence against women and girls in the name of "honor" – Funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Coinvestigator)


Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture. Funded by RBC Canada (Co-applicant) 

2012- 2015

Transition from pediatric to adult care services:  the experiences of family caregivers of young adult survivors of traumatic brain injury.  Funded by Policy Wise, Alberta (PI)


Access to Health Care Services in the Hospital Emergency Room for Street Involved Youth. Funded by Policy Wise Alberta (Co-investigator)


Employer perspectives on mental illness, disability and workplace practices to improve employee mental health and well- being. Funded by Alberta Mental Health & Addiction Services. (PI)


Harmful cultural practices in Immigrant communities. Funded by Status of Women Canada ( Collaborator) .


A qualitative Longitudinal Cohort Assessment of Unaccompanied Refugee Youth in Edmonton: Pathways and transition Options for Successful Integration and Resettlement. Funded by SSHRC/Prairie Metropolis  .( Co-applicant) .


Child caregivers in Edmonton– a collaborative study with University of Alberta and University of British Columbia, Funded by Policy Wise Alberta ( Coinvestigator).


Examining the Transitional Needs of Adults with Developmental Disability and Mental Illness Funded by (Coinvestigator)


Support needs of post secondary youth who experience mental health difficulties (indigenous, immigrant, refugee and mainstream youths) - URGC Grant, University of Calgary. University Research Grant (URGC). PI

Media Work


2015, Edmonton Journal, Group of Edmonton social workers aims to sponsor Syrian family. 

2015  CIHR South Asian Food Choices: healthy eating in perinatal period 

Selected Publications 2014-Present

Shankar, J., Nicholas, D et al (2018). Transition from Pediatric to Adult Services: Challenges for Parents of Young Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury,  SAGE Open  October-December  1–14     DOI: 10.1177/2158244018807954

Shankar, J & Ip C (2018) Community College Counselors’ Experiences and Challenges with Postsecondary Students with Mental Health Disorders, Chapter 6, 83-99, Health and Academic Achievement   Intech Open Publishers. London, United Kingdom

Shankar, J., Ip, E and Khalema, N.E (2017). Addressing Academic Aspirations, Challenges and Barriers of Indigenous and Immigrant Students in a Postsecondary Education Setting. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work (in Press)

Drolet, J., Enns, R., Krietzer, L., Shankar, J., and Mclaughlin (2017), A Supporting the resettlement of a Syrian family in Canada: The social work resettlement practice experience of Social Justice Matters, International Journal of Social Work (In Press)

Lai, D., Shankar, J and Khalema, N. E. (2017) Unspoken skills and tactics: Essentials for immigrant professionals in integration to workplace culture", has been accepted for publication in Journal of International Migration and Integration. (In press)

Higginbotham, GMA; Valliantos, H., Shankar, J, Safipour, J and Davey, C (2017), Immigrant women’s food choices in pregnancy: perspectives from women of Chinese origin in Canada, Ethnicity & Health

Shankar, J & Khalema, N.E (2016).  Supporting Visible Minority and Indigenous Students in a Postsecondary Education Setting in Canada: Addressing their Academic Aspirations, Challenges, and Barriers, Research & Reviews: Journal of Educational Studies

Shankar, J., Gill, R and Ellis Z (2016), Perspectives on Honor and Crimes Against Women in the Name of Honor, in Mitchell, Ortiz ( Ed), Domestic Violence: Prevalence, Risk Factors and Perspectives, Chapter 7, 111-131, Nova Science Publishers 

Khalema, N.E., & Zulla, R., Shankar, J., Chiu Y and Oritz, L (2016) Participatory community Action Research process addressing employment integration of internationally trained professionals (ITPs) in Canada, Action Learning and Action Research Journal Vol 22 (1)

Higginbottom, G.M.A., Vallianatos, H., Shankar, J., Osswald, B., & Davey, C (2016). Understanding South Asian Immigrant Women’s Food Choices in the Perinatal Period International Journal of Women’s Health and Wellness Volume 2 | Issue 1 1-7

Shankar, J. & Martin, J. (2014). Australian social work and human rights: A critical multicultural perspective to working with diverse cultures in Charlotte,De Kock, Christian Van Kerckhore & Eva Vens (Eds), Social Work in International perspectives: history, views, human rights and diversity.  Ghent, Belgium, Academic Press

Shankar, J., Lili, L., Nicholas, D. Warren, S., Lai, D., Zulla R.,Tan, S., & Couture J ( 2014). Employers Perspectives on Hiring and Accommodating Workers with Mental Illness", SAGE Open Journal. DOI: 10.1177/2158244014547880

Khalema, N.E & Shankar, J (2014). Perspectives on Employment Integration, Mental Illness and Disability, and Workplace Health, Advances in Public Health, Article ID 258614, 7 pages 







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