Social Work : Meet our Faculty and Staff

Karen R. McLean, MSW, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department Chair

B.A. University of Connecticut
M.S.W. University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Ph.D. University of Connecticut School of Social Work

Office location

White Hall, Suite 101B

Phone and Email:
(203) 837-8937


Biographical Information

Dr. McLean has been a faculty member of the Social Work department at WCSU since Fall 2015 where she focuses on policy and macro practice. Dr. McLean is a graduate of the University of Connecticut where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a Masters of Social Work Degree and Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Social Work. Dr. McLean’s previous work experience stems over 26 years of public service in social welfare, where she worked as a social worker and a fair hearings officer. Dr. McLean worked as an adjunct professor for over 10 years prior to joining WCSU full-time at several universities including Capital Community College, the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, Smith College School for Social Work, and Simmons College School of Social Work.

Dr. McLean’s research interests include community-based participatory research, cultural diversity, and social work mentoring. She has coauthored a book with Dr. Harris on cultural diversity with an emphasis on social work practice. Dr. McLean’s current research projects include examining self-care practices with undergraduate social work students, the mentoring experiences of African American social work students at predominantly white institutions (PWI), and the experiences of hair discrimination practice among students of color. Dr. McLean aspires to increase dialogue and knowledge on understanding differences across communities in order to foster change.

Peer-reviewed publications:

Brown McLean, K., & Williamson, K. (2019). Collective Voices: Engagement of Hartford community residents through participatory action research. In S.B. Merriam & R.S. Grenier (Eds.) Qualitative research in practice: Discussion and analysis (2nd ed.) (pp. 365-381). New York: Wiley. 

Brown McLean, K., & Williamson, K. (2019). Trust the process: Reflections on Participatory Action Research. In S.B. Merriam & R.S. Grenier (Eds.) Qualitative research in practice: Discussion and analysis (2nd ed.) (pp. 382-385). New York: Wiley. 

Harris, D.M., & Brown, K. (2019). Cultural Diversity. California: Cognella Publishing. 

 Brown, K.R. (2015). Hearing officers’ perceptions of their roles in welfare organizations. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from 

Williamson, K. W., & Brown, K. (2014). Collective Voices: Engagement of Hartford Community Residents through Participatory Action Research. The Qualitative Report, 19(72), 1-14. 

Peer-reviewed presentations:

Chin, S., Clemons, C., Cordero, A., Green, C., Hamilton, M., Krieger, I., & McLean, K. (2019, May 3). Understanding Cultural Awareness through micro, mezzo, and macro practice, presentation at National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter. 

Harris, D., & McLean, K. (2019, April 3). Blackness, Trauma, and Empathetic Engagement: Self-care plan required, presentation at the Scholars in Action Program, Western CT State University.

McLean, K. (2019, March 3). Black Heroes Among Us, presentation at the Manchester Department of Social Services Black History Month event.

McLean, K., & Harris, D. (2018, May 4). Creating a culture of self-care, workshop presentation at the National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter Annual Statewide Conference, Cromwell, CT.

 ​Harris, D.,McLean, K., Bryant, M., Lewis, J., Webb, L., & Rocourt, S. (2018, April 27). Blackness, Trauma, and Empathetic Engagement: Self-care plan required, panel presentation at the National Association of Black Social Workers Annual Conference, San Diego, California.

​Harris, D., & McLean, K. (2018, March) ·   An examination of a study of self-care among undergraduate social work students, workshop presentation at the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Annual Conference (BPD), Atlanta, Georgia. 

McLean, K. (2018, February 26). Understanding Microaggressions, presentation at the Connecticut Department of Social Services Annual Black History Month Celebration.

McLean, K., & Moya Salas, L. (2017, December 1).  How to Speak with your children about Race, presentation at the Brewster Central School District’s Multicultural Day Celebration, Brewster, NY.

McLean, K. (2017, August 28). The Value of Journaling, workshop at the School of Professional Studies Opening Meeting, Western CT State University, Danbury, CT.

Libal, K.,Brown, K., & Schoenfeld, A. (2015, October 17). Social Work and Law in Pursuit of Social Justice and Human Rights, panel presentation at the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Program Meeting (APM), Denver, Colorado.

Brown, K. (2015, September). On the welfare lines: pursuing careers in welfare social work, workshop presentation at Western CT State University Social Work Professional Development Day.

Brown, K. (2014, November 18). Who we are: An analysis of hearing officials and our perceptions of our roles, workshop presentation at the National Association of Hearing Officials’ Annual Training Conference, Charleston, South Carolina.

Brown, K. (2012, October). Achieving Success Through Higher Education,presentation at the Capital Community College Lunchtime Lecture Series, Hartford, CT. 

​Brown, K. (2007, March).  Service Learning, CBPR and Social Justice, panel presentation at the Crossroads II Conference,  The Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT. 

Williamson, K. & Brown, K. (2004, March).  Engaging City Residents in Community Based Research: A Companion of 3 Models, panel presentation at the Crossroads Conference sponsored by the Institute for Community Research, Hartford, CT.