Dr Adriana Sandu

PhD Programme Director & Senior Lecturer in Social Work
Faculty of Health, Medicine and Social Care
School of Allied Health and Social Care
Areas of Expertise:
Social Work and Social Policy
Research Supervision:

Dr Adriana’s interdisciplinary background in sociology and social work focuses on social justice, gender and migration; she has studied and worked in Romania, the US, Spain and the UK.

[email protected]


Adriana’s passion for social justice began in post-communist Romania in the early 1990s when she graduated with a 1st Honors Degree in Social Work and Sociology from Bucharest University. She started working as a community social worker, NGO leader and trainer, designing and delivering children and family services in collaboration with the Romanian government, international organisations such as the EU/Phare Programme, UNICEF, UNDP and the Peace Corps, among others. Winning a prestigious Ron Brown Fellowship to study in the US, Adriana obtained her MA (1999) and PhD (2006) in Public Administration from Syracuse University, where she continued to research (as part of the doctoral thesis) aspects of child poverty, health inequality, ethnicity and gender. While living in the US, Adriana held an internship at the Administration of Children and Families in Washington DC and was a consultant for redesigning the social services system in Onondaga County, New York (2001-2003).

Since moving to the UK in 2006, Adriana’s postdoctoral research at the Centre for Social Policy Research at Loughborough University, continued to address aspects of poverty, discrimination and social justice.  Adriana’s expertise in gender and migration continued to grow while leading the research in Spain as part of a major European project (FEMCIT EU Framework 6), interviewing women’s organisations to identify intersections of gender violence and ethnicity among migrant communities.

Adriana joined ARU in 2010 and has since developed an extensive teaching and research experience in social work and social policy. Her work continues to be influenced by poststructuralist feminist theories, using visual ethnographic and arts based methods, particularly focusing on gender, identity, inclusion and belonging within migrant communities. She is the PhD Programme Director in HeMS.

Spoken Languages
  • English - fluent
  • Spanish - fluent
  • French – conversational
  • Romanian - native speaker
Research interests
  • Gender, migration, ethnicity
  • Poverty, health inequality
  • Diversity, identity and inclusion 
  • Feminist inquiry, intersectionality, gender violence
  • Visual ethnography, arts based/participatory methods

Adriana’s research interests led to extensive international, national, regional collaborations. Following her long-lasting collaboration with the Gender Studies research group at Fordham University in New York, in March 2016, she delivered a key note address at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, talking about the refugee crisis in Europe, highlighting the increased danger for trafficking and violence against women refugees.

Adriana is involved in numerous partnerships in the community. She regularly volunteers during welcoming events for the refugees in the East of England. As a member of the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign and member of the steering committee for the Cambridge City of Sanctuary in 2016, and Schools of Sanctuary and has been involved in several conferences, round table events through the years and during refugee week (see below). Adriana developed and ran several projects in collaboration with Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum (CECF). For the most recent project, Crafting the Self (2020-22), she successfully supported the granting of £50,000 from the Evelyn Trust to CECF to provide arts-based workshops for migrant and refugee women, aiming to reduce loneliness and isolation among them. Adriana is currently working on a grant application with partners form the community to further develop this project and continue to promote inclusion and improve wellbeing within this marginalised group.

Areas of research supervision

Adriana welcomes doctoral students with the following research interests/topics:

  • Transnational living, migration, belonging and social inclusion
  • Gender violence and trauma informed care in social services
  • Feminist inquiry, social movements, activism and change
Current doctoral students as 1st and 2nd supervisor
  • Teacher awareness of gender identities: A case study of Greek classrooms. Martha Petrou (1st Supervisor)
  • A case study of the communicative competence of trainees on the United Kingdom (police) Hostage and Crisis Negotiators Course (Win Bernard, 1st Supervisor)
  • Teaching mathematics in Key Stage 2: connectedness as pedagogy, Drew Quayle (1st Supervisor)
  • Towards an understanding of the dynamic relationship between innovative pedagogy and organisational development in the context of a BYOD sixth form college. - Tim Hallas (2nd Supervisor)
  • Acceptance and Resistance: children’s perceptions of street trading in Nigeria, Abiodun Osaiyuwu Obedience, (2020)
  • Understanding Spiritual Intelligence in Healthcare – Raising Awareness Among Practitioners, Richard Haywood (2020)
  • Women with complex needs and their pathways into and out of prostitution completed, Kathryn Hodges (2018)
  • Child protection inter-agency collaboration - Nhlanganiso Nyati (2016)
  • Volunteering with the undeserving and the Big Society, Laura Wiffen (2015)
  • BA (Hons) Social Work - level 6 ; MA Dissertation Social Work - level 7
  • Doctoral Supervision and monthly seminars – theory and methodology 

Adriana has extensive teaching experience. Since joining Anglia Ruskin in 2010 she led and taught on over 10 modules, ranging across undergraduate and postgraduate courses in social work and social policy. Topics include: qualitative research (visual ethnography, case study design transition to professional social work practice; applied theory to social work practice, wellbeing, life course, and health and social inequalities; comparative social welfare, family sociology); globalisation and social welfare. Adriana is the current module leader and dissertation supervisor for MA Social Work Dissertation.

Adriana has over 12 years experience in PhD supervision at ARU, leads on the PhD Admissions in HeMS and has contributed to the University’s Doctoral Training Programme and Staff Researcher Development Programme. She supervised 5 students to completion and is currently supervising 6 doctoral students.

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching, Anglia Ruskin 2015
  • PhD Public Administration, Syracuse University, New York, USA 2006
  • Certificate in Women’s studies, Syracuse, NY, USA 2005
  • MA in Public Administration, Syracuse University, New York, USA 1999
  • BA in Social Work, Bucharest University, Romania 1994
Memberships, editorial boards
  • European Network of Migrant Women, member 2023
  • Co-lead of the Women & Girls Research Interest Group, 2020
  • CERII, ARU's Centre for Education Research on Identities and Inequalities, member 2018
  • Higher Education Academy Research Fellow, 2015
  • Fordham University – Gender Studies research group, 2017 member
  • International Sociological Association 2005, member
  • RC 19 Research Council on Poverty and Social Exclusion 2005, member
  • Social Policy Association 2007, member
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • 2020-2022 ‘Crafting the Self’, in collaboration with Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, £55.000, Evelyn Trust, to run arts-based workshops with migrant and refugee women in the community, aiming to address isolation and loneliness and improve wellbeing. Principal Investigator
  • 2020-2021 ‘Developing specialist training for other agencies working with outreach services for Women involved in prostitution’, following the evaluation conducted for women@thewell; £5,000 HEIF, advisory board
  • 2019 Gendering the nomadic subject: Women refugees and education’, funded by Anglia Ruskin University, Research and Enterprise Investment programme, £1,906. PI
  • 2018-2021 Evaluation of the outreach programme at women@thewell, a London charity supporting women involved in prostitution (project completed) the Big Lottery Fund, £47,142, advisory board
  • 2017-2018 City of Sanctuary, Cambridge –grant awarded to ARU from the Guardian fund (£1000) to run a pilot project in collaboration with Schools of Sanctuary, Cambridge. PI
  • 2012-2013 CLEAR – Children’s Legal Education, Adapted Resources - £110,000 (JUST/2012/FRAC/AG/2769). Consultant
Selected recent publications

Boyce M, Burch S, Dadswell A, Sandu A., (under review), The severe and multiple disadvantages facing women involved in prostitution: Implications for feminist social work, submitted to Affilia, August 2023

Boyce M, Burch S, Dadswell A, Sandu A., (under review), ‘Delivering trauma-informed outreach to women involved in prostitution: Enablers and barriers’, submitted to the European Journal of Social Work, July 2023

Hodges K, Burch, S, Sandu A, Silences in intersections: Exploring the experiences of women involved, or at risk of involvement in prostitution silences, in preparation, to be submitted to Affilia Sept 2023

Sandu A, Murad S, Moreau MP:  Gendering the nomadic subject: Women refugees, education and agency,  in preparation, to be submitted to Educational Action Research Sept 2023

Sandu, A. and Fernández, Pérez V. (2021) The Fight goes on! Intersections of Oppression in the Spanish Feminist Movement. Journal of International Women's Studies, 22(9), 207-221.

Burch, S., Osaiyuwu, A., Sandu A., 2021, Acceptance, Obedience and Resistance: children’s perceptions of street trading in Nigeria, Children and Society, http://doi.org/10.1111/chso.12482 9

Sandu A., 2019, Social Movements, Political Change and Support for Refugees: Implications for Social Work Practice in the UK. Practice. DOI: 10.1080/09503153.2019.1644615  

Sandu, A., 2013, Transnational Homemaking Practices: Identity, Belonging and Informal Learning.  Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 21:4, pp.496-512, DOI: 10.1080/14782804.2013.865379 (45 google scholar citations).

Sandu, A., 2013. Participation, Representation and Voice in the Fight against Gender Violence: The Case of the Women's Movement in Spain. Journal of International Women's Studies, 14(1), 24-39. 

Nyhagen Predelli, L., Halsaa, B., with Thun, C. and Sandu, A., 2012. Strategic Sisterhood: A Comparative Study of Contemporary European women's movements. Palgrave. DOI: 10.1057/9781137020666; under WP4, FEMICT – Gendered Citizenship, EU sixth framework (2007-2011).

Sandu, A. (2010) ‘Rules from above, views from below: accessing and using child health services in post communist rural Romania’, chapter in Aidukaite, J. (ed.) Poverty, Urbanity and Social Policy: Central and Eastern Europe Compared. New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc., pp. 59–79 - chapter based on PhD thesis 

France, A., Meredith, J., and Sandu, A., 2008, Youth Culture and Citizenship in Multicultural Britain, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 15:3, 303-316, DOI: 10.1080/14782800701683698

Davis, A., Sandu A., Some Useful sources, Social Policy and Society , Volume 7 , Issue 4 , October 2008 , pp. 565 – 569, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1474746408004508

Sandu, A., 2005, Poverty, Women and Child Health in Rural Romania: Uninformed Choice or Lack of Services? Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 7:1, 5-28 DOI: 10.1080/13876980500084386

Recent presentations and conferences

Sandu A, 2023: presentation Crafting the Self and Making the Home: participatory arts with migrant and refugee women in collaboration with Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, World Refugee Day: Refugee Inclusion, 20th of June, 2023, the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, University of Cambridge.

Sandu A, Murad S, Moreau MP, 2023:  Gendering the nomadic subject: Women refugees, education and agency, Pre-launch conference, Safe and Inclusive Communities, 8th of March 2023 Chelmsford, ARU.

Sandu, A., Community work and the arts; home making practices and migration, Freire International Conference, Homerton College, Invited speaker, Cambridge University, 19th October 2022.

Sandu A, Matthews A, Social and legal barriers for unaccompanied minors Migration and Trauma informed conference (online), ARU and Cambridgeshire County Council, as part of Greater Cambridge Partnership, Jan 13th, 2021, organiser and session facilitator.

Sandu A, Finding Home- A school based participatory theatre to explore issues faced by refugee children’, Symposium: Refugee Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities in Creative Practice Research, (inter-faculty collaboration with StoryLab), organiser and presenter, 20th of June 2018, Cambridge.

Sandu A, International conference on Forced Migration and Global Citizenship, presented on Community work with City of Sanctuary Cambridge and Schools of Sanctuary, ARU Chelmsford, ARU 10th of Jan 2017, organiser and presenter.

Sandu A, Key note speaker: ‘Women’s trafficking and violence against women refugees’; the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at Fordham University, New York; March 19th 2016.

Sandu A, Invited speaker at the Summer School for Social Work students from Fordham University, New York at UCL London, Global and local challenges faced by women and girls and identify empowerment practices leading to sustainable solutions, June 2016.

Sandu A, Transnational Home-Making Practices: Identity, Belonging and Informal Learning, article presented at The British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) Conference on Education, Mobility and Migration; Churchill College, 8-10 September 2012. Organiser and session facilitator.

Sandu A, Transnational Home Making Practices, Integration, Citizenship and Community Cohesion Reconsidered, the 9th Annual Espanet Conference, Valencia, Spain, Sept 8-10 2011, article presentation.

Sandu A, Poverty, women and child health in post communist rural Romania: Uninformed choice or lack of service? Childhoods 2005 Oslo International Conference, Children in Emerging and Transforming Societies, University of Oslo, June 23-27, Norway, presentation based on PhD thesis.

Sandu A, Maternal education and child health in Romania, Development Seminar Series, Global Affairs Institute, Syracuse University, Nov 8 2002, Presenter and organiser of post graduate seminar series.

Sandu A, Meaning of Poverty in Romania, paper presented at Oxford University, at the European Consortium of Sociological Research (ECSR) summer school The Study of Social Inequality: Theory and Research, September 14, 2000.

Research reports

Sandu A, Morad, S, Stadnick, E, 2020- 2023. ‘Crafting the self’, Final Evaluation Report, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum, for Evelyn Trust Foundation, Lead author

Boyce, M., Dadswell, A. Burch, S., Sandu A., (2017-2021). Evaluation of outreach support for women involved in prostitution. Funder: Big Lottery Fund/women@thewelll, Co-author

Sandu, A., Pallares M, (2018 ) ‘Finding Home- A school based participatory theatre to explore issues faced by children refugees’, Schools of Sanctuary Cambridge Jan 2018/19, Lead author

Hartfree, Y., Whitfield, G., Waring, A., Sandu, A. and Hill, K., 2010. ‘Tenants' and advisers' early experiences of the Local Housing Allowance national rollout’. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Research Report No. 688. Norwich: HMSO. Co-author

Sandu, A, Nyhagen Predelli, L, Halsaa, B, Thun, C, Manful, E (2009) Women's Movements: Constructions of Sisterhood, Dispute and Resonance. The Case of Spain, pp.1-180, European Commission.- Lead author

Hill, K., Harvey, J., Phung, V., Sandu, A. and Roberts, S. (2007) Local Housing Allowance Final Evaluation: The qualitative evidence of claimants’ experience in the nine pathfinder areas, DWP LHA Report 13, Online resource. https://hdl.handle.net/2134/2979