Bree Akesson

Dr. Bree Akesson has worked for over a decade with children and families affected by disaster, war, and other forms of adversity. She is currently Assistant Professor of Social Work at the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work and the Social Justice and Community Engagement Master of Arts (MA) Program, both at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Akesson is also a Faculty Affiliate for the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Learning Network and Research Associate for the Columbia Group for Children in Adversity, offering technical assistance regarding child protection to governments, operational agencies, and policymakers. In addition to her research and teaching, Dr. Akesson is the Treatment Facilitator for the Child Psychiatric Epidemiology Group (CPEG) based at the New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, where she provides clinical support to children and families affected by trauma.

Dr. Akesson’s research program spans micro- and macro-level understandings of international child protection issues. Past research projects include a program evaluation of a psychosocial program for children and pregnant women in Chechnya (2005), a program evaluation of psychosocial structured activities for school-aged children in Uganda (2007), and a review of international safe space programs for young children in emergencies (2009). Her SSHRC-funded doctoral research (2010-2014) with Palestinian children and families earned her several awards including the K.B. Jenkes Prize for Thesis Excellence and the Director’s Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Research in Social Work from McGill University. She most recently completed a UNICEF-funded research project on social service workforce strengthening in West and Central Africa in order to improve child protection systems in the region.

Dr. Akesson regularly presents her research at international conferences in a variety of disciplines including social work, public health, geography, and international affairs, as well as through academic and community-based venues. Her research has been published in over one dozen peer-reviewed journals (including Child Development, International Journal of Educational Development, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Global Social Welfare, Global Studies of Childhood, Refuge, and Social Work in Public Health). She is currently co-editing (with Dr. Myriam Denov) the forthcoming Children Affected by Armed Conflict: Theory, Method, and Practice to be published by Columbia University Press in 2016.

Current research projects include

  • A qualitative study to better understand the experiences of pregnant refugee women who have been displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict
  • A mixed methods study (including GPS) examining the socio-spatial experiences of displaced Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey
  • A global Delphi review of social service worker strengthening as a means to improve child protection
  • An eight-country baseline study and mapping of education and training of social service workers involved in child protection, in partnership with Terre des Hommes and the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, with funding from the European Union, the Oak Foundation, & the Austrian Development Cooperation