Friday, 14 January 2005 - 12:00 PM
This presentation is part of: Poster Session I
Political Activism among Social Work FacultyCindy Davis, PhD, University of Tennessee, Sherry Cummings, PhD, University of Tennessee, and Samual MacMaster, PhD, University of Tennessee.
Purpose: The role of social workers in political activism has been characterized with ambivalence, and few studies have addressed political activism within the social work academic setting. The purpose of the current study was to explore how social work educators in Australia, the UK, and the USA responded to the war with Iraq from an educational perspective as well as a personal perspective.
Methods: These three countries were selected because they were a primary part of the allied force that declared war on Iraq. The sample frame included 542 social work faculty in the USA (N=300), UK (N=124), and Australia (N=118). Participants were selected from all public accredited undergraduate social work programs in Australia and Britain and from selected key public universities with accredited social work programs across the USA. Participants completed a brief email survey about the war with Iraq including the following topics: educational responses, personal responses, personal views, academic freedom, and demographic data. The response rate was 21% yielding a sample of 114 (N=65 in the USA, N=30 in Australia, and N=19 in the UK).
Results: Findings revealed that the majority of respondents (70% in USA, 69% in Australia, and 50% in the UK) felt that social work faculty had a responsibility to educate students about the war with Iraq. However, more respondents in Australia (60%) than the USA (36%) or the UK (37%) felt that social work faculty had a responsibility to advocate for or against the war with Iraq. The majority of faculty surveyed (88% in the USA, 85% in Australia and 91% in the UK) incorporated the war with Iraq into their class activities. A significant minority of faculty in the USA (14%) felt restricted by their institution from expressing their views of the war with Iraq during class time, yet very few felt restricted in Australia (3%) or the UK (0%).
Implications: This study will provide social work faculty with specific strategies on integrating political activism into their classes. There continues to be much ambivalence among social work faculty, particularly when compared internationally, on their role and responsibility in political activism.
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