Sarah Bexell

Sarah Bexell

Visiting Clinical Associate Professor

Director of Humane Education, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

What I do

We cannot ignore the interweaving of life on Earth. The human induced Sixth Mass Extinction is bringing immense suffering and threatening human survival. I aim to help students and society participate in the global movement to protect life on Earth.


child welfare, civic and community engagement, environment, higher education, human-animal connection, international social work/global practice, K-12 education, social justice

Professional Biography

Visiting Clinical Associate Professor Sarah Bexell conducts research on the efficacy of humane and sustainability education in motivating intervention participants to adopt more humane and sustainable behaviors at the micro, mezzo and macro levels of society. She conducts work in Denver and Chengdu, China. In China, she partners with Sichuan University and the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas.


  • Ph.D., Early Childhood Education/Science & Conservation, Georgia State University, 2006
  • M.Ed., Science Education, Georgia State University, 1998
  • MA, Biological Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, 1995
  • BA, Biology/Environmental Studies, Augustana College, 1991

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for Conservation Biology
  • Humane Education Coalition
  • Association for Professional Humane Educators
  • Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)

Featured Publications

Bexell, S. M., Sparks, J. D., Tejada, J., & Rechkemmer, A. (2018). An analysis of inclusion gaps in sustainable development themes: Findings in recent social work literature. International Social Work, 00, 13.
Bexell, S., Clayton, S., & Myers, G. (2019). Children and animals: Incorporating the importance of human-other animal relationships in fostering resilience in children. In P. Tedeschi & M. A. Jenkins (Eds.), A chapter in the book Transforming Trauma: Finding Resiliency and Healing through Animals. (pp. 217-240). Lafayette, IN, USA: Purdue University Press.
Clayton, S., Bexell, S., Ping, X., He, Z. Z., Jing, L. W., Wei, C. H., & Yan, H. (2018). Confronting the wildlife trade through public education at zoological institutions in Chengdu, PR China. Zoo Biology, 11.
DesMarais, E. A., Bexell, S. M., & Bhadra, S. (2015). Reflexive development: A model for helping social workers contribute to a sustainable global future. . Social Work Education: The International Journal, 1-14.
Bexell, S. M., Jarrett, O. S., & Xu, P. (2013). The effects of a summer camp program in China on children’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors toward animals: a model for conservation education. Visitor Studies, 16(1), 59-81.


Bexell, S. (2019). An emerging research and training agenda in humane education. Sixth Annual Oxford Animal Ethics Summer School. Oxford, England: Oxford Center for Animal Ethics.
Bexell, S. (2019). An analysis of inclusion gaps in sustainable development themes. Speaker for Organized Session: Assessing Scholarship on Social Work and the Environment. San Francisco, CA, USA: Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference.
Bexell, S., Clayton, S., & Ping, X. (2018). Environmental literacy and nature experience in Chengdu, China. Giant Panda Annual Meeting. Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.


  • 2018-2019 Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate School of Social Work