Kristen Atkinson

Degree: Ph.D.


Department: Social Work

Kristen Atkinson


Bullying Children/Youth Issues Family Dynamics Social Work


  • Positive youth development
  • Community youth development
  • Youth civic engagement
  • Youth leadership development
  • Participatory research


Kristen Atkinson, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development, community youth development, youth civic engagement, youth leadership development and participatory research. She teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs, mostly overseeing clinical work.

Prior to teaching at MSU Denver, Atkinson taught a social research course to incoming graduate social work students at DePaul University. She was also a technical assistant in the College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago for a project called “Permanency Enhancement Project: A Community Initiative to Address Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare.” Atkinson was also a graduate research assistant in the same department for nearly five years. She still works there as a visiting assistant professor teaching graduate courses mainly in Youth Development Theory, Participatory Action Research, and Program Development. In fall 2012, Atkinson coordinated the annual Youth Development Summit, a one-day conference for youth development professionals. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Chicago Freedom School. Atkinson is currently a member of The Council on Social Work Education, The Association for Community Organization and Social Administration, and the Society for Research on Adolescence.

She has published her work titled “Trauma-Informed Care and Youth Development.” Her most recent research was a participatory research study at the Chicago Freedom School. It explores youth participation in a liberatory education program and the development of activism around social justice issues.

Atkinson received her doctorate in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012, a Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University in 2003 and a bachelor’s in Social Work from Eastern Michigan University in 2000.

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