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Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am an early careers researcher, having graduated with my PhD in July 2016 with a thesis entitled, ‘A Trip To The Dark Side? A sociomaterial analysis of the spaces of Holocaust pedagogies at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.’ 

I am primarily interested in research which concerns applications and theorisations of pedagogy, learning and curriculum-making in Holocaust and Genocide Education. However, in the past, I have also been involved in several successful projects in Early Learning and Childcare, which have included – through the guidance of Principal Investigator, Professor Aline-Wendy Dunlop – a review of the Common Core Competences of a Children’s Workforce (Dunlop, 2015). I am skilled in both qualitative and quantitative methods of conducting research. I am very excited to be part of a multidisciplinary research team (comprising colleagues involved in Early Learning and Childcare, Education, Community Education, Health and Songwriting) which is exploring definitions, workforce competences and pedagogies of Family Learning - we have recently been awarded a UWS Vice Principal Funding Award for our project, 'Scoping the Ambition: Family Learning' which is responding to a Scottish Government priority for more research into the impact of family learning practices (Education Scotland, 2016).

Being influenced by scholars as diverse as Karen Barad, John Law, Annemarie Mol, Tim Ingold and Greg Mannion, I am particularly concerned with the contribution that a sociomaterial approach can make to our understanding of how different ideas about the world are formed, and how these different ideas and knowledges come to dominate and be sustained in any particular (educational) context. It is through the everyday social, material and discursive aspects of the world that I base my analytical presumptions: this means that I am inclined, like others have done before me, to try to analyse the many different relationships between everyday ‘things’ (e.g. educational policies; textbooks; the seemingly mundane way a teacher walks in a classroom; the way the teacher holds a pen; the very concept of a ‘teacher’ as a social, material and discursive reality) to make sense of how education operates. 

Having studied previously Social and Cultural Geography for my Masters (at University of Leeds – 2007, Distinction) and my undergraduate in Geography at Glasgow (First Class – Scottish Royal Geographical Society Award Winner), I am also very interested in  place/space as a lens to exploring forms of power in education. In my PhD, I was inspired by spatial theorisations by geographers Chris Philo, Doreen Massey, Eric Laurier and Hayden Lorimer, and applied a performative ethnographic approach to explore spaces of Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum.

Current research activities

Currently I am involved in two research groups within the wider Research for Institute for Education. 

Within the Holocaust and Citizenship Education group, I am currently drafting bids for external funding to undertake research with the Garnethill Synagogue, Glasgow, to support place-responsive approaches to Holocaust Education in their newly proposed Holocaust Study Centre. I welcome further discussions with academics and educators who are also interested in supporting bid-writing and development in this area. 

I am delighted to be part of the supervision team for Victoria Bianchi, who is a PhD candidate at the University of the West of Scotland. Her PhD study is a performance-as-practice (based) project, which means 50% of her work involves theatre performance, screenwriting and film production. Victoria’s work critiques gendered definitions of place/space using the medium of performance to investigate heritage sites.

In my other teaching capacities, I also lead the Early Learning and Childcare Studies research team, wherein we have recently completed a small-scale research study exploring breast-feeding awareness practices in the West of Scotland (publication in progress). Our areas of interest and expertise concern supporting families, practitioner identities, literacy development and theorising inclusive practices through researching culturally-appropriate and place-responsive pedagogies.

Desired research direction

I am interested in exploring further opportunities for developing and innovating high quality Holocaust and Genocide Education Research. I advocate a place-responsive approach to find new ways of theorising how young people learn about difficult heritage and controversial issues. I am interested in exploring further contexts for place-responsive learning, focusing particularly on Museums and heritage sites. 

I hope that my current research, and any future research that I undertake, will be useful to the most vulnerable in our society, and those responsible for enhancing the life-chances of our most vulnerable, including local and national government policy-makers, political parties, international stakeholders, NGOs, educators, Museum curators, families and students. I am enthusiastic about the possible contributions that place-responsive, sociomaterial methodologies can make to help us re-assess our commonsense understandings of the world, as well as supporting a more equitable and just society through our critical educational practice.  

I envisage that my future research directions will involve applying sociomaterially-informed theorisations of pedagogy, learning and curriculum-making in everyday contexts. It is my hope that this will lead to more diverse, innovative forms of educational practice (and particularly in Holocaust and Genocide Education) that support young people’s learning.

Target collaborative organisations

The Holocaust and Citizenship Research Group has a proven-track record of providing high quality consultancy and research to external organisations, including the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Pear Foundation. I am enthusiastic to form collaborations with organisations who are interested in developing innovative educational approaches related to Holocaust and Genocide Education and Museum studies, as well as place-responsive forms of learning and pedagogy (including outdoor education, indoor learning spaces, educational excursions). 

I also welcome any future collaborations with charities, NGOs, government organisations and schools in the field of Early Learning and Childcare Research. In the past, our team has been successful in achieving small grants from the Scottish Government, and has worked on projects with the EIS and SCCYP.  

External positions

Trustee, Scottish Educational Research Association

1 Dec 2016 → …


  • L Education (General)
  • LB2361 Curriculum
  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • HM Sociology
  • Holocaust Education
  • Genocide
  • AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Susan Henderson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 38 Similar Profiles
Holocaust Social Sciences
museum Social Sciences
learning Social Sciences
education Social Sciences
student Social Sciences
study materials Social Sciences
memorial Social Sciences
epistemology Social Sciences

Research Output 2010 2019

Tracks of the past: a place-responsive education industrial heritage project

Gibbs, E., Henderson, S. & Bianchi, V., 2019, 2 p. University of the West of Scotland.

Research output: Other contribution

Open Access
60 Downloads (Pure)

The role of early years care providers in supporting continued breastfeeding and breast milk feeding

Dombrowski, L., Henderson, S., Leslie, J., Mohammed, K., Johnson, D. & Allan, N., 12 Feb 2018, In : Early Years. 16 p., 1430123.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Human Milk
Breast Feeding
urban area
law and order
78 Downloads (Pure)

What can onto-epistemology reveal about Holocaust education? The case of audio-headsets at Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Henderson, S. & Dombrowski, L., 23 Oct 2017, In : Holocaust Studies. p. 1-24 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Activities 2016 2019

  • 2 Participation in conference
  • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course
  • 1 Invited talk
  • 1 Visiting an external academic institution

Tracks of the Past

Susan Henderson (Organiser), Ewan Gibbs (Organiser), Victoria Bianchi (Organiser)
27 Feb 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

(In)visible Stories: An Investigation into the Status of ICH in Scotland

Stephen Collins (Organiser), Ewan Gibbs (Speaker), Susan Henderson (Speaker), Julie Clark (Speaker)
14 May 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Scottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2018

Ewan Gibbs (Speaker), Susan Henderson (Speaker), Victoria Bianchi (Invited speaker)
22 Nov 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Pitt- Rivers Museum, Dept of Anthropology, University of Oxford

Susan Henderson (Visiting researcher)
5 Feb 2016

Activity: Visiting an external institutionVisiting an external academic institution


law and order