Session: Theories of Social Justice from the Perspectives of the Humanities: Implications for Social Work (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

37 Theories of Social Justice from the Perspectives of the Humanities: Implications for Social Work

Cluster: Social Work Practice

Michael J. Austin, PhD, University of California, Berkeley , Richard Smith, MFA, MSW, University of California, Berkeley , Jennifer Price Wolf, MPH, MSW, University of California, Berkeley , Charity Samantha Fitzgerald, MA, University of California, Berkeley , Megan Moore, University of California, Berkeley , Sirojudin Abbas, University of California, Berkeley , Ruby Reid, MSW, University of California, Berkeley and Sarah Schulz, University of California, Berkeley
Friday, January 15, 2010: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Pacific Concourse N (Hyatt Regency)
This roundtable is exploring the theories of social justice from the following perspectives: 1) philosophy, 2) history, 3) religion, 4) law, 5) literature, and 6) the treatment of social justice in social policy textbooks used in social work education. This discussion will be particularly timely because the conference takes place on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. The motivation behind this roundtable is that although social justice is a core foundation of social work, we may not be able to articulate the multiple conceptual frameworks inside social justice. For example, there are differences in a distributive Rawlsian framework in contrast to a more libertarian view espoused by Nozick. Likewise how do Islam, Judaism and Christianity define and practice social justice?

This workshop will begin to identify different ways to teach students and conduct research that incorporates social justice from a multi-disciplinary perspective in order to find ways to link these theories to codes of professional ethics and the role of values that guide practice. This topic is particularly difficult for social work researchers because they are often trained as quantitative social and behavioral scientists. Consequently, may of our peers do not have a grounding in the theories of social justice from the humanities but are none the less expected to apply a social justice framework in teaching and research.

The roundtable will begin with a five minute summary of the literature in each of the areas and then will provide ample opportunity for discussion. The first presenter will identify key texts in Western philosophy that develop a framework for social justice. The second presenter will share legal standards for justice in the United States. Next, a presenter will examine the role social justice is uses as a framework for analyzing texts in literary criticism. Two speakers will discuss religion and social justice from three traditions: Catholicism, Islam and Judaism. The next speaker will present key moments in social justice history and the formal presentation will end with an analysis of social justice content in social policy textbooks.

The roundtable facilitator will generate two products from the roundtable audience: 1) strategies for promoting research on social justice education in social work and 2) recommendations for enhancing the teaching of social justice. The goal of this discussion is to provide a foundation of key concepts to be used by researchers, educators and practitioners to incorporate social justice perspectives in their areas of activities.

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