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Professor in the Department of Sociology+44 (0) 191 33 41497
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing+44 (0) 191 33 41497
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


Sarah Banks has a background in community development and worked in the voluntary sector and local authority social services before joining Durham University. Her degrees are in philosophy, social history and social work. Her research interests include professional ethics, community development and community-based participatory research.

Sarah co-founded the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action at Durham University, which promotes and supports participatory action research for social justice. She is co-convenor of the UK Participatory Research Network and coordinates the Ethics Working Group of the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research. She also co-convenes the Social Work Ethics Research Group of the European Social Work Research Association. She coordinated production of ethical guidelines in the UK for community-based participatory research and internationally for participatory health research. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Collaboration for Participatory Health Research, a long-standing Board Member of Durham Community Action and a Trustee of the Society for the Furtherance of Critical Philosophy. 

Recent books include: Ethics, Equity and Community Development (edited with Peter Westoby); Co-producing Research: A Community Development Approach (co-edited); Ethics in Participatory Research for Health and Social Well-being (edited with Mary Brydon-Miller); Participatory Research for Health and Social Well-Being (co-authored); the fifth edition of Ethics and Values in Social Work; the edited collection Ethical Issues in Youth Work (2nd edition); Ethics in Professional Life: Virtues for Health and Social Care (co-authored with Ann Gallagher) and the edited collection: Practising Social Work Ethics around the World: Cases and Commentaries (co-edited with Kirsten Nøhr).

Recent research projects include work on innovation and learning in participatory research, green social prescribing for young people, ethical challenges for social workers during Covid-19, civic participation and community development, household debt and community organising, ethical challenges in community-based participatory research.

Read about

Participatory Research Innovation and Learning Lab

Ethical Challenges for Social Workers during Covid-19

The Connected Communities research project, Imagine

Action research with Thrive Teesside on high cost credit in poor households

Work on ethics in community-based participatory research

Research interests

  • Professional ethics, community development, community-based participatory research.


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Supervision students