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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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Research Output

A philosophy of social work beyond the anthropocene

Bell, K., 2020, (Accepted/In press) Post-Anthropocentric Social Work: Critical posthuman and new materialist perspectives. Bozalek, V. & Pease, B. (eds.). Routledge

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)

  • Gender, environmental degradation and eco-feminism

    Bell, K., Kime, K. & Boetto, H., 2019, Social work promoting community and environmental sustainability : A workbook for global social workers and educators. Rinkel, M. & Powers, M. (eds.). 1st ed. Berne, Switzerland: International Federation of Social Workers, Vol. 3. p. 117-137 21 p.

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter in textbook/reference book

  • Internationalizing social work education: Insights from leading figures across the globe

    Bell, K., 02 Dec 2019, In : Australian Social Work. 72, 1, p. 124-125 1 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

  • 1 Citation (Scopus)


  • Leadership Excellence

    Bell, Karen (Recipient), 2011



    Nihon Fukushi University

    Karen Bell (Visiting researcher), & Bernadette Moorhead (Visiting researcher)

    04 Feb 202012 Feb 2020

    Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external organisationAcademic

    Nihon Fukushi University

    Bernadette Moorhead (Visiting researcher), , Karen Bell (Visiting researcher), & Wendy Bowles (Visiting researcher)

    03 Aug 201904 Aug 2019

    Activity: Academic EngagementExternal research and teaching

    Australian Social Work (Journal)

    Karen Bell (Member of editorial board)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial responsibility

    Australian Association of Social Work (External organisation)

    Karen Bell (Member)


    Activity: Membership Advisory panel/policy group/boardIndustry

    International Social Work Conference (Event)

    Karen Bell (Reviewer)

    01 Nov 2013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review responsibility, including review panel or committee

    Press / Media

    CSU social work team crowned tops, again

    Karen Bell, Manohar Pawar, Wendy Bowles & Cate Thomas


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    CSU social work team crowned tops, again

    Manohar Pawar, Wendy Bowles, Karen Bell, Andrew Vann & Garth Norris


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    From CSU to Samoa

    Karen Bell


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Green social work at CSU

    Heather Boetto, Bill Anscombe, Karen Bell & Heather Barton


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Press / Media