Karen Bell

Professorial Staff

Associate Professor Karen Bell

Associate Professor
Wagga Wagga
Building 26


Karen completed a Bachelor of Arts (La Trobe University Melbourne) in 1986, majoring in Legal Studies and Philosophy. She completed a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours grades (University of Melbourne) in 1988 and her PhD (CSU) in 2009. She's worked in social work education at CSU since 1993, initially as a casual lecturer and since 2000 as a permanent staff member.

Karen's professional practice background is mainly in the field of health as a generalist hospital social worker and in mental health as an on-site social worker in a regional psychiatric unit. She has undertaken various contract and locum positions in health and community services over the years. She worked at Centrelink as a caseworker and in indirect practice roles including staff training and development, reviews, policy and projects.


Karen has taught a range of subjects in welfare, social work and human services. She currently teaches Social Work Theory and Practice, Fields of Practice as well as in the field education subjects in the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) degrees. She coordinates the Bachelor of Social Work Honours program and the Master of Social Work dissertation subject. Karen also supervises PhD, DSW, MSW and Honours candidates and contributes to orientation and ongoing development of postgraduate students through the Social Work and Human Services Research Higher Degree Seminar program.

Doctoral research

The title of Karen's PhD thesis is 'The experiences and support needs of non-metropolitan women who have used assisted reproduction clinics'. This qualitative research explores 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.

Research interests

  • Philosophy of social work, post-conventional social theory, ecological social work;
  • Gender, women and social policy;
  • Social work education, international social work;
  • Women's health, assisted reproduction, ageing and palliative care;
  • Rural and regional service delivery.


  • Editorial Board, Australian Social Work - 2016
  • Fully accredited member of the Australian Association of Social Workers
  • Australian Women's and Gender Studies Association
  • National Women's Studies Association, USA
  • Coordinator of the steering committee for the Wagga Wagga Social Workers' Continuing Professional Education group, 1996 - current


    • Best Tertiary Student Resource - Educational Publishing Awards 2017 – as a chapter author – Bernoth & Winkler (eds.) (2017) Healthy ageing and aged care. Oxford University Press. Collaboration with School of Nursing, CSU.
    • Australasian Association of Gerontology Award 2017 - as a chapter author – Bernoth & Winkler (eds.) (2017) Healthy ageing and aged care. Oxford University Press. The association’s journal - Australasian Journal of Ageing - praised the ‘engaging and comprehensive nature’ of the text.
    • CSU Faculty of Arts Award - Research Excellence 2013.This award was in recognition of the quantum and quality of peer reviewed publications emerging from my doctoral research.
    • Faculty Leadership Excellence Award 2011 (with Dr Bill Anscombe)

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