Thomas Piñeros-Shields is a Lecturer in the COLLEGE College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in the DEPARTMENT of Sociology.

Thomas Piñeros Shields, Ph.D.

Associate Teaching Professor

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Dugan Hall - 2nd Floor


Global migration of youth; intersections of social movements and public policy; experiential education and community engaged action research and democratic pedagogy.


  • Joint Ph.D.: Sociology and Social Policy, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. 2014 Dissertation Title: DREAMers Rising: Constituting the Undocumented Student Immigrant Movement.
  • M.A.: Urban & Environmental Policy, Tufts University, Medford, Mass., 1996 Thesis Title: The Service of Politics and the Politics of Service: Policy Paradoxes of National Service.
  • B.S.: Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. 1991


Thomas Piñeros Shields, Ph.D., is interested in global engaged experiential learning opportunities. Since 2017, he developed and has led an international internship exchange partnership between the University of Valencia and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Piñeros Shields educates students to respond to public problems including racism, sexual violence, global migration, the climate crisis and social equity through courses such as social problems, social policy and inequalities, and sociology of immigration. He also teaches the capstone internship program and leads the Capstone Experience for MPA students. In addition, Piñeros Shields is the founding graduate coordinator of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program as well as the concentration in Human Service Management and the Public Administration and Leadership Certificate.

He brings over thirty years of work in areas related to experiential education, participatory action research and civic engagement, with an emphasis on the experiences of youth and global migration.

Piñeros Shields' dissertation was a five-year in-depth ethnography of undocumented immigrant students in the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) in Massachusetts, a key player in the national DREAM Movement. Most of his scholarship has been applied research and program evaluations been for policy makers and non-profit organizations or foundations at the international, national, state and local levels. These have included projects for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, City of New Bedford, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, the YMCA of the USA, Junior Achievement Worldwide, Massachusetts Department of Education, US Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. As part of this work he has conducted multi-site, mixed-methods evaluations of programs to develop youth civic education, college access, entrepreneurship skills, and STEM capacities.

He has also conducted evaluations of rigorous substance abuse and HIV prevention efforts. He has vast experience as part of research teams where he has designed, conducted and analyzed surveys, held individual and group interviews, written case studies, and completed multivariate and logistics analyses of large data sets. Piñeros Shields has also developed community based and participatory action research projects with youth and adults from urban communities.

Selected Publications

  • Piñeros Shields, Thomas. (2019) What Mattered Most?: Lessons from the Origin Story of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. September 30, 2019. 
  • Piñeros Shields, Thomas. (2018) "Re-thinking First-Generation College Status Among Undocumented Immigrant Students" in Clearing the Path: Qualitative Studies of the Experiences of First-Generation College Students. Ashley C. Rondini, Bedelia Richards-Dowden, and Nicolas Simon (eds.). Lexington, MA: Lexington Press. 
  • Piñeros Shields, Thomas. (2018) The Vigil: How Religion and Motherhood Shape Social Movement Participation in Migrant Voices: Latin American Diaspora in Documentary Film. Esteban Loustaunau and Lauren Shaw (eds.). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press. 
  • Buitrago, Carolina, Sarah Phillips, Thomas Piñeros Shields, Jacob Rowley, Lars Dietrich, and Ronald Ferguson. (2017) Models of Professional Growth Study: Final Report. 
  • Piñeros Shields, Thomas (2015) "The Argument: Should the state adopt proposed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition?: Yes", Boston Globe Regionals: North, October 9, 2015.