• Source: Scopus
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Personal profile

Personal profile

Karen Bell is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; she was granted a CSU Research Fellowship (2018-2020).

Karen completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in legal studies and philosophy (La Trobe University Melbourne) in 1986, a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours, University of Melbourne) in 1988 and a PhD (CSU) in 2009.

Karen’s previous professional practice experience is mainly in health as a generalist hospital social worker and in mental health as an on-site social worker in a regional psychiatric unit. She has also undertaken various contract and locum positions in health and community services over the years. In addition, she worked at Centrelink in direct and indirect practice roles including staff training and development, reviews and projects.

Karen’s doctoral thesis - The experiences and support needs of non-metropolitan women who have used assisted reproduction clinics – explored the experiences of rural women in relation to infertility and assisted reproduction and the role of social work and human service professionals in this context. The dominant paradigm in assisted reproduction remains quite traditional, biomedical and individualistic in its ontological orientation. This shapes regulation, research and service provision. A major outcome of this research is its contribution to a post-conventional knowledge base in relation to human reproduction – one that validates women’s epistemic agency. In terms of national health and social services delivery, the research reinforces a need for a multidisciplinary, human rights approach to service delivery in the context of IVF in Australia and internationally.

Karen has worked in social work education at CSU since 1993, initially as a sessional academic and since 2000, as a tenured academic.  Karen teaches at all levels in the social work and human services degrees, including undergraduate and postgraduate subjects. She coordinates the  Bachelor of Social Work Honours program as well as the Masters-level research strand. In addition, she supervises PhD and DSW students, and she has examined several PhD theses. Karen has also co-facilitated several international student mobility programs (China, India, Samoa, Korea). 

Research interests include:

  • Philosophy of social work, social theory
  • Gender, women and social policy
  • International social work
  • Social work curriculum development, international education, and practicum
  • Assisted reproduction 
  • Rural and regional service delivery
  • Eco-social work

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