Karen J. Bensen

Karen J. Bensen

Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work, Coordinator of Dual Degrees

  • Faculty

What I do

I create much needed change in the world by educating social work students, helping them discover their passion and connect with others who share it, and always grounding it in the work of social justice.


environment, higher education, international social work/global practice, LGBTQIA, social justice

Professional Biography

Associate Professor of the Practice of Social Work Karen Bensen is GSSW's Coordinator of Dual Degree Programs, providing leadership in the areas of innovative degree collaborations with other DU graduate programs and academic advising for dual degree students. She has a passion for social justice and leads a course to South Africa each fall studying social work and social justice in the context of post-Apartheid South Africa. She has many years of professional experience as a social worker, school-based counselor and program director.

Before joining the GSSW faculty, Bensen served as director of the University's Partners in Learning Program, where she created numerous opportunities for students to engage with faculty outside the classroom. Prior to that, she was the director of GLBT Student Services at three post-secondary educational institutions on Denver's Auraria campus.

Bensen has conducted hundreds of professional presentations on topics that include diversity in education, faculty involvement in student life, "safe zone" training and GLBT awareness. She has won numerous awards. including the 2005-06 Outstanding Staff Award from the University's Center for Multicultural Excellence.


  • MSW, Social Work, University of Denver, 1991
  • BS, Social Work, Syracuse University, 1984

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Certificate

Professional Affiliations

  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)


Bensen, K. J. (2015). Impact of Hunger Poverty and Sickness on Human Potential and Human Relations: A Social Work Perspective. Impact of Hunger and Poverty and Sickness on Human Potential and Human Relations. Madras Christian College, Chennai, India: Center for Peace Studies & The Dept of Philosophy.
Bensen, K. J. (2016). Positional Power, Social Work Values, Collaboration, and the Academy. Annual Program Meeting. Atlanta,Georgia: CSWE.
Bensen, K., St. Mary, J., Harland, B., Peterson, J., & Craddolph, R. (2016). Lessons Learned Abroad for Applicability at Home. Internationalization Summit. Denver, CO: University of Denver.
Bensen, K. J., & Belz, C. (2017). Have the need to Please? Evolving the Practice of Leadership. Women's Conference. DU Campus: DU.
Bensen, K. J., Pitts, V., & Tam, C. (2018). Quiet Change in a Noisy World: Activism for Introverts. 2018 HerDU. DU: DU.


  • Outstanding Woman of the Year, Metropolitan State College of Denver
  • Outstanding Staff Award 2005-2006, DU Center for Multicultural Excellence
  • Kay M. Stevenson Faculty Citizenship Award, Graduate School of Social Work
  • LGBTQ Oral History Project , Colorado LGBT History Project
  • Vagina Warrior, Auraria V-Day Alliance (Vagina Monologues)