• 175 Citations
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Personal profile


I am Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Course Director for the MA Social Work at Coventry University. My educational background was diverse and involved work across different disciplines. My first degree was a BA from Melbourne University (1979-83) and I majored in Art History and Politics. After coming to the UK in 1986 I worked in the care sector and then undertook a Social Work Pg Dip from South Bank University between 1990-92. While working as a Social Worker in London I completed an MA at the University of London (1992-94) in Australian Studies and then a Ph.d at the University of Kent (1995 – 1999), both of which focussed on Australian literature. I began working at Coventry University 2001 and my teaching expertise is in Sociology, Critical Pedaogogy and Ethics and Philosophy. My first book 'The Ethical Foundations of Social Work (2011) was concerned with Social Work Ethics with my subsequent two books concerned with Critical Pedagogy. These are 'Acts of Knowing: Critical Pedagogy In Against and Beyond the University' with Gurnam Singh (2013) and 'The Practice of Equality: Jacques Ranciere and Critical Pedagogy' (2018) with David Ridley. Alongside my work on Critical Pedagogy and Social Work Ethics I have also developed reserach on the Sociology of Religious Fundmentalism and I am a memeber of the of 'Feminist Dissent' Editorial Collective, where I have also published a range of material on this subject. I am in addition a Commissioning editor for the Peter Lang series 'Critical Perspectives in Education' with Dr Jones Irwin.


Area of Expertise:

Social Work Ethics, Critical Pedagogy, Sociology of Religious Fundamentalism


Research Interests

Social Work Theory and Practice, Social Work Ethics, Teaching, Learning and Critical Pedagogy, Sociology of Religious Fundamentalism

Vision Statement

At the centre of my vision for research is the concept of praxis; the integration of theory and practice in Social Work and of teaching and research in academia. My Social Work research, mostly carried out collaboratively, is based on developing practice by integrating critical insights from sociological research and Theory, and my work on ethics is similarly concerned with how an awareness of philosophical perspectives can facilitate professional practice and identity. My work on Critical Pedagogy runs through both teaching and research as a method which seeks to engage students’ capacities for critical thinking and for action based on that. Underlying all of this is a concern with questions of social justice and exclusion, and the problems and challenges these pose for professional Social Work, and society at large.


External positions

Phd Supervisor, Tavistock Institute of Human Relations

1 May 201531 May 2018


  • B Philosophy (General)
  • Religious fundamentalism
  • HM Sociology
  • LB2300 Higher Education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Stephen Cowden is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Research Output 2007 2019

8 Downloads (Pure)

Safeguarding or Surveillance? Social Work, Prevent and Fundamentalist Violence

Cowden, S. & Picken, J., 11 Mar 2019, In : Feminist Dissent. No. 4, p. 91-131 41 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
social work
7 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)

Community Cohesion, Communitarianism and Neoliberalism

Cowden, S. & Singh, G., 1 May 2017, In : Critical Social Policy. 37, 2, p. 268-286 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Why Fundamentalism?

Cowden, S. & Sahgal, G., 22 Jun 2017, In : Feminist Dissent. 2, p. 7-38 31 p., 1.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
women's rights
social change

Working with Unaccompanied Minors

Cowden, S., Singh, G. & Hadwin, D., 8 Sep 2017, (Accepted/In press) Human Growth and Development in Children and Young People : Theoretical and Practice Perspectives (Volume I) . Parker, J. & Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (eds.). Bristol: Policy Press, Vol. Volume 1. p. (in press)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Intellectuality, student attainment and the contemporary higher education system

Singh, G. & Cowden, S., 2016, Student Attainment in Higher Education: Issues, controversies and debates. Steventon, G., Cureton, D. & Clouder, L. (eds.). Abingdon: Routledge, p. 82 - 97

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Activities 2006 2016

  • 18 Participation in conference
  • 1 Editorial activity
  • 1 Visiting an external academic institution

Feminist Dissent (Journal)

Stephen Cowden (Editor)
1 Apr 20161 Dec 2018

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditorial activity

European Association of Schools of Social Work Conference

Stephen Cowden (Speaker)
29 Jun 20152 Jul 2015

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Dialogue Society/Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies Conference: Senses of Belonging in a Diverse Britain

Stephen Cowden (Speaker)
20 Nov 201421 Nov 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

London Conference of Critical Thought

Stephen Cowden (Speaker)
6 Jun 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Tavistock Institute of Human Relations

Stephen Cowden (Supervisor)
1 May 201423 May 2018

Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external academic institution