Building Doctoral Student Capacity through Student Organization

Sunday, January 18, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Balconies L, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Research on Social Work Education
Amy T. Khare, MSW, University of Chicago, Vanessa Vorhies Klodnick, LCSW, University of Chicago, Colleen Cary Katz, LMSW, University of Chicago and Caitlin Elsaesser, PhD, University of Connecticut
Social work doctoral students face many challenges as they navigate their education. Students must meet multiple goals—including developing expertise in social science theories and fashioning a research agenda—as they journey to become independent scholars. In addition to these basic requirements, students face unfamiliar challenges as they prepare for a competitive job market, leading to increased pressure to publish scholarly articles, gain grant writing experience, and develop skills in multiple research methodologies. While many of these goals must be pursued individually, organizing doctoral students around common interests can increase the support and training all students need to be successful in meeting their educational outcomes.

This roundtable session is intended to foster a discussion about how social work doctoral students can move beyond meeting their individual educational goals to collectively address systemic challenges engrained in social work doctoral programs. We will share the action-oriented initiatives we have been leading as part of the Doctoral Student Association (DSA) at University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. We will highlight the use of systematic and anonymous data collection from students and faculty to gain an understanding of issues of key concern to students and ways students can move this data into policy changes within our institutions.

We will invite participants to share successful strategies they have used to capitalize on mentorship relationships, research assistantships, training in analysis and writing, and peer-to-peer academic and social support. We will discuss the challenges associated with working on these initiatives while pursuing our academic responsibilities and the lessons that have been learned about working effectively within an academic structure.

We plan to facilitate the conversation through a process that highlights the shared challenges students face, as well as moves the discussion towards concrete ideas for action that may be implemented by doctoral students once they return from the conference. Participants will leave the session more energized and informed on how to meet not only their own individual educational outcomes, but also how to strengthen their educational institutions. The conversation will be facilitated with the goal of launching a network of social work doctoral students who can take advantage of future SSWR conferences and on-line platform (SSWR Graduate Student Resource Center) to share resources and collaboratively enhance social work doctoral education. Ultimately, we hope participants will utilize this session to build student-centered resources and support that could be maintained in the years to come.

See more of: Roundtables