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Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University

Academician in the Academy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences, is an experienced educator, practitioner and researcher and has published extensively in the fields of sociology, social policy and social work. Besides her position in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Lena is an Associate Director for the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Research with specific responsibility for the Vulnerability and Resilience Programme. In this latter capacity, she endeavours to bring people together in research dialogues across the physical sciences, social sciences, health sciences, arts and humanities.

Lena argues passionately for the realisation of human freedom from social inequalities and injustices in her writings, policymaking forums and communities seeking to change their social and physical environments. Her current research interests include: climate change and environmental social work; globalisation; social and community development; social change; women’s well being and welfare; motherhood; fatherhood; child well-being and children’s rights.

Lena is committed to working closely with students and enjoys watching emerging scholars grow through joint collaborations over their research interests. Lena welcomes applications from potential Ph D candidates in any of her research areas of interest. Anyone interested in having their doctoral studies supervised by Lena are warmly encouraged to apply through the School of Applied Social Sciences. She is also willing to answer questions that any potential candidate may have about their studies.

Amongst Lena's most recent single authored books are: Social Work in a Globalizing World (2010); Introducing Social Work (2009); Anti-Racist Social Work (2008, 3rd Edn.); Women and Community Action (2006, 2nd Edn.); Social Work: Theory and Practice in a Changing Profession (2004). Key edited works include Social Work: Themes, Issues and Dilemmas (3rd Edn.); Critical Practice in Social Work (2nd Edn.); and Practising Social Work in a Complex World; (all 3 edited with R Adams and M Payne, 2009); and Broadening Horizons: International Exchanges in Social Work (edited with W Thomas Bernard, 2003).

Lena has received accolades for her contributions to social welfare in the international arena, including a medal from the Social Affairs Committee of the French Senate; and an Honorary Doctorate from the Univeristy of KwaZulu Natal in Durban, South Africa.

Lena has served in various influential offices, including being President of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), 1996 to 2004, which involved representing social work educators at the United Nations and preparing papers on their behalf. She also led IASSW into a closer organisational collaboration with the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). This resulted in the production of the joint international definition of social work, ethics document and global qualifying standards. She continues to work with IFSW and the International Council of Social Welfare (ICSW) to promote the voice of social work internationally and amongst civil society organisations. She is currently IASSW’s Head of The Climate Change and Disasters' Intervention Committee and has participated in the United Nations' discussions on climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, Bonn, Germany and Cancun, Mexico.

Previous Funded Research
Lena Dominelli has recently completed projects on Connecting Communities, funded by SEEDA and the Hampton Trust; Sure Start Evaluation funded by KIDZ; Globalisation and Social Work Practice funded by H Newby; and Child Abuse, Protection and Welfare funded by the EU; Young Mothers' Project funded by SSHRC.

Celebrating Women's Achievements

The outreach activities being conducted by Professor Dominelli in the Gilesgate area of Durham involved the celebration of women's achievements during International Women's Day. Two women from the community, Margaret Laing and Rachel Barker, were awarded silver salvers for their contributions to the community on the Sherburn Road Estate over many years. In the photo, in order from left to right are The Hon Roberta Blackman-Wood (MP for Durham City), Margaret Laing (Awardee), Rachel Barker (Awardee), Jackie Graham (Community Worker and Manager of the Laurel Avenue Community Centre) and Professor Lena Dominelli (Durham University). Many thanks go to Krysia Johnson (IHRR) and Joanne Hare (SASS) who helped with the event.

Sichuan Earthquake Area

Lena Dominelli in front of a landslide in Wenchuan County with Yuchen Han who acted as interpreter during her visit to the Sichuan earthquake stricken area.

Lena gave the following papers during this trip at: the University of Beijing one entitled 'Capacity Building in Times of Disaster: Lessons from the Sri Lankan Tsunami of 2004' on 8 May 09; another entitled 'Community Development Initiatives Following the 12 May 2008 Earthquake: Reflections on the Social Work Stations in Sichuan Province' at Sichuan University on 12 May 2009; and one entitled 'Empowering Local Communities: The Gilesgate Project' at Southwest Petroleum University on 14 May 2009

Social Work in Times of Disaster Conference

On 24th April 2008, Lena Dominelli hosted the 'Social Work in Times of Disaster Conference' at St Aidan's Collge. It had presenters from Sri Lanka, Slovenia, Canada, India, China and the UK. Of major concern to those presenting was how to develop a curriculum on social work interventions during disaster situations for both immediate relief and long-term reconstruction in affected communities and how these could benefit from multi-disciplinary approaches. Members from the School of Applied Social Sciences and the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Research were also present amongst the participants.

The Gilesgate Project

Developing links with local residents forms an important part of academic activities at Durham University and make significant contributions to bringing the skills and expertise of the University into local communities. These endeavours include action-research projects and other developmental initiatives. One of these is the Gilesgate Project which has been organised by Professor Lena Dominelli who holds a joint post in the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) and the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR). The Gilesgate Project builds on long-standing community involvement in this part of Durham, particularly amongst community and social work staff in SASS. The focus on responding to community identified needs. These responses remain and include those of bringing residents, particularly young people, into the academy and providing important activities that encourage residents to follow their dreams in creating a better life for themselves, whatever the field they choose - sports, drama, music or science. However, a recent initiative has moved this Project in new and exciting directions, namely using scientific knowledge about energy and climate change to deal with pressing community problems like unemployment, fuel inequalities and marginalisation.

As a result of various discussions, residents on the Sherburn Road Estate have become involved in what has become known as the Gilesgate Energy Initiative. This has included several exhibitions where they could examine the relevance of renewable energy sources in reducing fuel poverty and providing job opportunities on the Estate. The free distribution of low-energy light bulbs, provision of energy audits for private homes, the creation of employment opportunities through the production of Inflector blinds are amongst the activities being generated by this Initiative. Its ultimate aim is to create investment in renewable energy sources that will, over time, enable the community to become self-sustaining in energy and thus enable a local action to contribute to solving a global social problem - the reduction of human reliance on fossil fuels and the contribution these make to climate change.

The Gilesgate Project involves a range of stakeholders in meeting these objectives. Alongside the local residents and community workers, these include representatives from private industry with GoSustainable taking a key role, housing associations owning properties in the local area, especially Three Rivers Housing Association, social and physical scientists from SASS, IHRR, and the Durham Energy Institute. The Project has been warmly welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, Professor Chris Higgins, the local MP, Roberta Blackman-Woods and employees of the Durham County Council.

Young People from Laurel Avenue

Lena Dominelli organised a day's activities for young people from the Sherburn Road Estate to enjoy at the University on 22 May 2009. Her aim was to encourage young people to think of the University as a place where they can come to study, meet other people and explore wider opportunities in life. They began the day by meeting the Vice-Chancellor and concluded it with a visit to Van Mildert College to get a sense of the University in all its guises. In-between these events, the group visited University College (the Castle), Durham Cathedral (where graduation ceremonies are held), the School of Applied Social Sciences, the Oriental Museum, and the Institute for Hazard and Risk Research. Many thanks go to Maurice Tucker, Craig Bellamy, Nick Rosser, Becky Townson, James Reevell and Anne Marron for making their day a memorable one. Thanks also to Jackie Graham, Simon Hackett, Patrick O'Mara, Stuart Lane and Elizabeth Oswald for their contributions to the success of this community venture.

Citizenship, Diversity and Change: Promoting Inclusion in Social Work Interventions with Socially Excluded Groups

Globalisation, migratory movements and cultural diversity within nation-states are creating major challenges for social work practice amongst socially excluded groups. The exclusion of certain groups from enjoying the benefits of citizenship associated with a particular nation-state create ethical dilemmas for social workers if diversity within a particular geographical location has been poorly handled. Social work students, practitioners and faculty from the University of Durham (The UK), Copenhagen School of Social Work (Denamrk), University of Victoria (Canada)and Dalhousie University (Canada)will explore this phenomenon by examining research on the topic and providing opportunities for students to take assessed practice placements overseas that promote best practice amongst social excluded groups. Amongst these will be Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, Métis) of Canada and Greenland (Inuit), black and minority ethnic (BME)groups in the UK, Denmark and Canada. The Project is funded through the EU-Canada Cooperation in Higher Education Programme.

Ethical Guidelines for Research into Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid
Ethical Guidelines for Research into Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid

ESRC Project Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid Toolkit V3 Apr 2013

Honorary Professorship

Professor Lena Dominelli was awarded an honorary professorship in May 2010 from the East China University of Science and Technology for her work on social work education with Chinese Colleagues. Professor Dominelli was awarded this honour by the Vice Chancellor Professor Xuhong Qian.


  • –present
    Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University