Carole Christensen

Carole Pigler Christensen

Professor Emerita, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Born: U.S.A.

Dr. Carole Pigler Christensen is, since 2004, Professor Emerita at the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work, after 13 years as a Full Professor. In 1991, she became the 1st Black woman to be appointed Director of a School of Social Work in Canada, and the 2nd female Director of the UBC School in its 60-year history.

Career: Before joining UBC, she was a faculty member at McGill University School of Social Work (1970-91), and was a pioneer in cross-cultural and anti-racist studies; initiated undergraduate courses and a graduate-level concentration in cross-cultural and anti-racist practice; also introduced and taught courses in Human Sexuality at McGill, and appears to be the 1st Black woman in Canada certified as a Sex Therapist and Sex Educator. She initiated and chaired the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work’s Task Force on Multi-cultural and Multi-racial Issues in Social Work Education (1988-91), which produced a report (Social Work Education at the Crossroads: The Challenge of Diversity), leading to national accreditation standards cognizant of these issues. During her mandate as Director of the University of British Columbia School of Social Work, Dr. Christensen negotiated funds for the Jack Bell Building and outlined the unique design for the building, which now houses the School. Her grant from Canadian Heritage in 1990 allowed her to conduct research leading her to establish the Multicultural Family Centre in east Vancouver in 1992. The Centre assists immigrants and refugees to access health and social services. Dr. Christensen remained Program Director of the Centre until 2007.

Other: Taught at the Danish School of Social Work (Copenhagen) where she developed and taught courses in family therapy; visiting Professor, University of Hawaii; Co-Founder, Association of Black Human Service Workers (Montreal). Her publications and professional activities have focused on multicultural and anti-racist practice, research, and model building; access to health care and social services for immigrants and minorities; the interfaces between sexuality, race, and culture. She is often called upon as a keynote speaker; to deliver workshops for professionals working in multicultural and multiracial environments; and to consult at home and abroad with local, provincal/state and national governments in her areas of expertise. Numerous appearances on radio, e.g., CBC Radio (Daybreak, Quebec; The Early Edition, Vancouver; Cross-Country Check-Up, Canada-wide) and television, (e.g., CBC’s Newswatch, Quebec).

Honours: Include, 2007 announcement of the perpetual $1000 Dr. Carole Pigler Christensen Scholarship, awarded yearly to a student at Britannia Secondary in Vancouver, and offered by the REACH Community Health Centre; End Racism Award, UBC (2004); UBC Celebrate Research Award (2001); End Racism Award, BC Min. of Multiculturalism & Immigration (2000); Woman of Distinction, BC Black History Society (2003); Distinguished Service to Families Award, BC Council for the Family (1997); Community Service Award, Congress of Black Women/BC (1994); Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Biennial Award (1981), Canadian Guidance & Counselling Association; Fulbright Scholar, Copenhagen, Denmark, (1960-61). Awarded Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi National honour society memberships for outstanding academic achievement at universities in the United States.

Works: Numerous refereed books and academic journal publications, such as Journal of Multicultural Social Work; Canadian Ethnic Studies; Women and Therapy; Counselor Education and Supervision; Journal of  Social Work & Human Sexuality; book: Linking Schools of Social Work to Aboriginal Students & Communities (1994); chapters in Canadian Social Welfare (J.C Turner & F. J. Turner), on Immigrant Minorities and Multicultural Social Work in Canada (1986 through 2008 editions).

Reviewed in: Danish national newspapers, Politiken and Berlingske Tidende; Montreal Gazette; Vancouver Sun; The Province; Richmond Review; Richmond News; Education Leader; News & Views on Education; UBC Reports; McGill Reporter; The Afro News.

Education: D.Ed., Counselling Psych, McGill University (1980); Master of Social Work, University of Michigan (1963); Bachelor of Arts, Howard University (1960).

Favourite book? Too many to choose only one.

Favourite quote? “The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” – Dalai Lama

Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Travel to yet unseen destinations and meet local people there.

Who inspires you? Those who work without self-interest to approve conditions for the oppressed. My mother, Georgia M. Pigler, was a great role model.

Why do you do what you do? It serves a life-long commitment.