Doctor Karin Mackay

Doctor Karin Mackay

Secondary Education (soe)


Karin strives to understand how global social injustices are experiences at the personal local level and how creative arts can be a powerful means of addressing complex social and environmental problems.

Her research expertise uses creative participatory action based approaches to develop collaborative programs addressing contemporary social justice issues. Currently working with refugee youth in Western Sydney investigating how to navigate their educational aspirations.

Key words: community arts practice, refugee resettlement, informal education, globalisation and migration, social sustainability, women’s empowerment

Dr Karin Mackay is an academic, community educator and artist who has dedicated the last 20 years studying creative cultural practices in past and present societies. Her speciality is the role of cultural history and creative arts practice in wellbeing. A current scholar at Western Sydney University she has taught in Higher Education, Australian Schools and the community sector. Karin is a researcher and lecturer in Creativity, Learning and Cultural Wellbeing for The School of Education, and an Alumna of the Institute of Cultural Studies (ICS). She is also a member of Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative (HADRI) which considers humanitarian responses and peace building in the face of natural and human crisis.

Her research approach has been profoundly influenced by a near death experience at a Brazilian hospital in 1991 that exposed her to social injustices of poverty and ethnicity which made clear the inextricable link between health, environment and privilege. Karin strives to understand how global social injustices are felt at the personal local level and how the creative arts can be a powerful means of addressing complex social and environmental problems and inspiring people into action.

Karin enjoys using creative methodologies to work with those who have had limited opportunities tell their story. She has written and delivered numerous creative art workshops to develop individual’s confidence and capacity to express what is important to them. She has worked with Aboriginal artists, multicultural youth, young parents, women experiencing domestic violence, Muslim and Hindu women artists, women in detention and single mothers living in Western Sydney. Most recently Karin was lead investigator in partnership with SYDwest multicultural services for The Navigating Resettlement Project where she facilitated creative media workshops so young people could tell their story when finding words was difficult.

Karin has written on the creativity and learning, women’s empowerment, creative process, creative expression, a/r/tography, community arts practice, women’s free caring labour, responses to globalisation and migration,  education for sustainability, sustainability and diverse communities, Tansversality and refugee resettlement, cultural wellbeing and feminist spirituality.  

Karin continues her own creative practice through painting and poetry exploring the connection between humans, nature and cosmos. She occasionally sells and exhibits her work which can be viewed at


This information has been contributed by Doctor Mackay.


  • DCR University of Western Sydney
  • Btech University of Western Sydney

Professional Memberships

  • Centre for Educational Research (2016 - 2019)
  • Humaniarian and Development Research Initiative (2018 - 2019)
  • Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations (2013 - 2019)


  • Doctor of Cultural Reseach 2015-05-11


  • Aboriginal Responses to Colonisation
  • Activism
  • Creative Arts Education
  • Creative Arts Practice
  • Creative and Critical Thinking
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Cultural Wellbeing
  • Educational design
  • Embodied Learning
  • Place-making
  • Political Participation and Identity
  • Social Justice, Social Change and Gender Issues
  • Spirituality
  • Wellbeing

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Secondary Education (soe)


Phone: (02) 47360 260
Location: J.1.18
Penrith (Kingswood)

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Current Teaching Areas

  • 101259 Learning and Creativity
  • 102096 Researching Teaching and Learning 1

Previous Teaching Areas

  • 100960 Contemporary Society, 2010
  • 100960 Contemporary Society, 2011
  • 101074 Professional Experience 1, 2015
  • 101074 Professional Experience 1, 2016
  • 101074 Professional Experience 1, 2017
  • 101259 Learning and Creativity, 2012
  • 101259 Learning and Creativity, 2013
  • 101259 Learning and Creativity, 2014
  • 101579 Primary English and Literacy 1, 2009
  • 101579 Primary English and Literacy 1, 2010
  • 101579 Primary English and Literacy 1, 2011
  • 101586 Primary English and Literacy 2, 2010
  • 101586 Primary English and Literacy 2, 2011
  • 101641 Diversity, Social Justice and Equity, 2010
  • 101641 Diversity, Social Justice and Equity, 2011
  • 101641 Diversity, Social Justice and Equity, 2012
  • 101641 Diversity, Social Justice and Equity, 2013
  • 101641 Diversity, Social Justice and Equity, 2014
  • 20014 Professional Experience 2, 2016
  • 20014 Professional Experience 2, 2017


Journal Articles

  • Mackay, K. (2016), 'The SPICES art framework : a practitioner tool to deepen understandings of cultural and spiritual wellbeing', The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, vol 11, no 1 , pp 15 - 32.
  • Mackay, K. (2014), 'Art as a connection to the divine in women's lives : cultural wellbeing through creative process', The International Journal of Social, Political, and Community Agendas in the Arts, vol 8, no 2 .
  • Mackay, K. (2011), 'Reclaiming the sacred : a festival experience as a response to globalisation', Journal for the Study of Religion, vol 24, no 2 , pp 75 - 96.


  • 2009, 'Ancestral Connections Exhibition'

Other Publications

  • 2013, 'Our Place, Western Sydney, Project Report. Stage 1: Community Environmental & Sustainability Educators', Research Report

Navigating Resettlement:

humanitarian and social justice issues for marginalized communities. Currently working with young refugees and settlement stakeholders in Western Sydney on educational aspirations for migrant and refugee youth, developing culturally appropriate mentoring programs and to facilitate pathways towards HigherEducation. Expert in applying innovative arts based research methodologies for refugee wellbeing, social participation for inclusive youth voice.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Mackay.

Previous Projects

Title: Navigating Resettlement: matched mentoring and creative media design-Sydwest
  • Sydwest Multicultural Services
Western Researchers: Mohamed Moustakim and Karin Mackay
Years: 2016-07-04 - 2017-09-11
ID: P00024204


Doctor Mackay is available to be a principal supervisor for doctoral projects

Current Supervision

Thesis Title: The Influence of Teacher Familiarity and Teacher Competency in the Implementation of Indigenous Art Education: An Exploratory Study of Fijian Primary Teachers
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Implementation of Education in for Sustainable Development in Universities in Kenya
Field of Research:


Title: Art as a Connection to the Divine
Description: Virtual Presentation at International Arts in Society Confrence 2013 Budapest Hungary

Western Sydney University

Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751

Tel: +61 2 9852 5222

ABN 53 014 069 881
CRICOS Provider No: 00917k

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