Staff Profile

Head shot of a smiling Keelin Howard wearing glasses stood facing straight on into the camera in front of a green floral wall

Dr Keelin Howard


I came to social science and academia as a mature student with a young family. Seeing the world through a social science lens was a revelation and insight I have not looked back from! I first joined Buckinghamshire New University as an undergraduate student in 1997 and completed my PhD at BNU in 2007 before going on to join the Social Sciences academic team as a part-time, then full-time lecturer. Before joining BNU I worked as a qualified youth worker around the Buckinghamshire area.

My PhD research investigated the role of the voluntary sector in implementing government policy on asylum seekers and migrants to the UK. Through my ethnography with a voluntary sector organisation receiving newly arrived asylum seekers from the London airports, I found that the voluntary sector was compelled to implement punitive policy and asylum seekers were left in limbo by the system.

My most recent piece of research was a qualitative study investigating the links between social media and mental health. This study found that individuals with diagnoses of severe and enduring mental health issues, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, needed to develop strategies to navigate social media to protect themselves from some of the harms alongside taking comfort from the more supportive elements. My specialist knowledge led to press and media interviews. I have used aspects of this research in developing a new module for all of our first-year social science students, which examines the key role of social and digital media in our contemporary lives and societies. I have since worked doing evaluative research with a local mental health charity on a debt and money management project they ran, and am passionate about equality, justice and de-stigmatisation for people dealing with mental health issues.

My career highlights include seeing students from diverse backgrounds finding the same passion for social science as I did when I began higher education and flourishing after their undergraduate degrees to go onto postgraduate study and careers in social science related work.

I am passionate about social justice and social equalities with a strong belief that evidence based social science can help work to achieve these in contemporary societies. I have recently specialised in criminology and the ways implementing social justice may be the most effective way of societies dealing with problems around crime and criminal justice.


View my Research Repository here.