Place-Based Research: Why place matters

Episode Summary

In this episode, we invite a panel of international researchers to discuss the importance of place in research. Led by Professor Susan Kemp from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, the panel discusses the importance of place in human security and the theoretical lens they bring to their research work.

Episode Notes

Please find a full transcript of this episode HERE

About our guests in this episode:

Bree Akesson, is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Adversity and Wellbeing at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. She is the Associate Director of the Center for Research on Security Practices. Her research focuses on families who face extreme adversity, such as poverty, war and climate change. 

Allen Ratliff is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Science and Social Work at Miami University in Ohio. He studies violence against marginalized young people, specifically violence against transgender and non-binary young people and young people experiencing homelessness. 

Genevieve Graaf is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington. She studies children's health and behavioural health policy and services. 

Cindy Sousa is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, outside of Philadelphia. She is the co-director of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being. Her work focuses on the health implications of violence, particularly related to families; the protective effects of culture, place, and social support; and professional responsibility in the face of collective suffering.

Susan Kemp is a Charles O. Cressey Endowed Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington School of Social Work, Seattle and Professor of Social Work at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. 


Contributors to this episode's production:

Avery Moore Kloss - Reporter, Host and Producer

Email her at

Bree Akesson  - Executive Producer and Panel Guest


Support and Funding for this episode:

This episode is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Wilfrid Laurier University.


Important links and studies you might be interested in:

Akesson, B., Burns, V., & Hordyk, S.-R. (2017). The Place of Place in Social Work: Rethinking the Person-in-Environment Model in Social Work Education and Practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(3), 372–383.

Kemp, S. P. (2010). Place matters: Toward a rejuvenated theory of environment for direct social work practice. In W. Borden (Ed.), Reshaping Theory in Contemporary Social Work: Toward a Critical Pluralism in Clinical Practice. Columbia University Press.

Ratliff, G. A. (2019). Social work, place, and power: Applying heterotopian principles to the social topology of social work. Social Service Review, 93(4), 640–677.

Sousa, C. A., Kemp, S. P., & El-Zuhairi, M. (2019). Place as a Social Determinant of Health: Narratives of Trauma and Homeland among Palestinian Women. The British Journal of Social Work, 49(4), 963–982.


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