Karen Witten

Research interests

Karen is a social scientist with research interests that centre on interactions between the physical characteristics of cities and neighbourhoods and the social relationships, transport choices and well being of the people living in them. Much of her recent work has involved the application of GIS to examine spatial inequities in access to services and amenities and the impact of differential access on health outcomes and transport choices; and relationships between neighbourhood urban design, public transport accessibility and residents' physical activity for transport and leisure. She has also conducted research on the place of schools in neighbourhood social environments and the impacts of school closure on the wellbeing of children, families and communities.

An additional research interest in recent years has related to the social science workforce. In 2006 and 2009 Karen led national surveys of the University-based social science workforce in New Zealand on behalf of the BRCSS network to build an understanding of its demographic features, capacity and capabilities, areas of research activity and translation as well as the personal, professional and institutional incentives and barriers to research participation.

Karen is a lead researcher in the Resilient Urban Futures programme, on residential choice and community formation.

Key publications

  1. Hosking, J. Mackie, H. van der Werf, B. Field, A. Smith, M. Woodward, A.
    Effects of Te Ara Mua – Future Streets suburban street retrofit on traffic speed and volume: controlled before-after study.
    Journal of Transport and Health,
    30, 101601.
  2. Smith, M. Calder-Dawe, O. Carroll, P. Kayes, N. Kearns, R. Lin, E-Y. ...
    Mobility barriers and enablers and their implications for the wellbeing of disabled children and young people in Aotearoa New Zealand: A cross-sectional qualitative study.
    Wellbeing Space & Society
  3. Egli, V. Mandic, S. Pocock, T. Narayanan, A. Williams, L. Clark, T. Spasic, L. Wilson, A. Smith, M.
    Understanding children's perceptions of, and priorities for, healthy neighbourhoods in Aotearoa New Zealand: Study protocol for a cross-sectional study.
    BMJ Open
  4. Opit, S. Kearns, R. Fergusson, E.
    Density in the Suburbs: Families with Children Adapting to Living in a Medium Density Social Housing Development.
    Urban Policy and Research
  5. Burdett, B. R. D. Willing, E. Ameratunga, S.
    Inclusive access in transport policy and practice: Views of New Zealand transport practitioners.
    Case Studies on Transport Policy
  6. Macmillan, A. Smith, M. Hosking, J. Wild, K. Field, A.
    Suburb-level changes for active transport to meet the SDGs: Causal theory and a New Zealand case study.
    The Science of the total environment
  7. Badland, H. Kearns, R.
    Development of a systems model to visualise the complexity of children's independent mobility.
    Children's Geographies
  8. Abrahamse, W. Muggeridge, D. Beetham, J. Grams, M.
    Increasing active travel: results of a quasi-experimental pre-post study of an intervention to encourage walking and cycling.
    Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
  9. Smith, M. Woodward, A. Hosking, J. Wild, K. Field, A.
    Suburb-level changes for active transport to meet the SDGs: Causal theory and a New Zealand case study.
    Science of The Total Environment,
    714, 136678.