Dr. Odessa Gonzalez Benson is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Detroit School of Urban Studies. Her areas of research are refugee resettlement, grassroots organizations, participatory practice, state-civil society relations and critical policy studies, with three broad aspects to her research. First, she contributes to knowledge about grassroots organizations, particularly refugee-run community organizations (RCOs), aiming to inform participatory approaches to social work practice and urban governance. For instance, her studies have examined RCOs' crisis response during the COVID-19 pandemic, participation in urban governance, community health practices and role in resettlement practices. As part of her Just Futures Action Research Lab, she leads her research team in capacity building and technical assistance for RCOs in Grand Rapids, Michigan, including facilitating a vaccine outreach program and organizing efforts around the April 2022 fatal police shooting of a Black refugee community member. Second, in her critical policy studies, she examines various aspects of U.S. refugee policy, including refugee placement strategies, work policies and neoliberal discourse, using varied methodological approaches, from quantitative analyses of federal data to discourse analyses of historical text. Finally, Gonzalez Benson conducts critical theoretical inquiry about forced migration and social work practice with refugees, with work on state violence, active strategies in policy research and migrant ontologies for example. This research has been published in journals such as Social Services Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, British Journal of Social Work, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, and Cities. She draws upon years of engagement with refugee communities, diverse education and work experiences and her personal path as a 1.5-generation immigrant to inform and motivate her research. She has a PhD in social welfare from the University of Washington in Seattle, an MSW from Arizona State University, and a BA in communications from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
refugee resettlement, refugee/migrant-led organizations, participatory approaches to urban governance and social services with refugees, state-civil society relations, critical policy studies
|(734) firstname.lastname@example.org||3828 SSWB||University of Michigan|
School of Social Work
1080 S. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
|2017||PhD||Social Welfare||University of Washington|
|2010||MSW||Generalist||Arizona State University, Phoenix|
|2009||AS||Mental Health Services||Community College of the US Air Force|
|1999||BA||Communication||University of the Philippines|
|Just Futures, An action research collective on displacement, migration and urban studies|
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106