Session: Social Work Research in the Current Presidential Administration: Responsibility, Ethics, and Social Justice (Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference - Achieving Equal Opportunity, Equity, and Justice)

145 Social Work Research in the Current Presidential Administration: Responsibility, Ethics, and Social Justice

Friday, January 12, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Marquis BR Salon 17 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Laura Abrams, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Kristina Lovato-Hermann, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles, Lauren Willner, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles, Rachel Wells, MSW, MUP, University of California, Los Angeles and Skye Allmang, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles
As a discipline rooted in a code of ethics, do social work researchers have an obligation to conduct social justice research in the midst of the current political moment? If researchers want to affect social change, should researchers “toolkits” and focus of inquiry shift? If so, how? Drawing from the NASW code of ethics, Hayes, Karpman, & Miller (2016) discussed the responsibilities of the social work profession in advocating for social justice in the current political administration. Moreover, the Society for Social Work Research and Council for Social Work Education have organized special conference sessions on the response of the Social Work academic community. This roundtable builds from these sessions and asks critical questions about the roles and obligations of social work research and researchers in responding to the Trump administration's rhetoric and policies that are counter to social work values.The UCLA Department of Social Welfare, Research and Social Justice group has organized this roundtable to discuss how faculty, recent PhD graduates and current doctoral students are critically examining the role of research in the current political climate. This roundtable includes scholars whose research focuses range from clinical practice to social welfare systems. First, faculty will discuss the creation and implementation of a department-wide rapid response research program involving MSW, PhD students, and faculty. This rapid response program is using existing data to provide relevant and timely information to service providers and grassroots groups on topics such as fears of deportation, white nationalism, and white women's participation in anti-racist social justice movements. Next, recent alumni will discuss the responsibility and ethics of conducting research with vulnerable populations (i.e. ethnic/racial minorities, immigrant and refugee populations). We will frame this discussion with three significant themes: the role of trust, researcher identity and insider/outsider status, and responsibility and then provide concrete examples of how social work researchers are transforming potential recruitment and retention challenges into opportunities for social justice research. Current doctoral students will then discuss how they are re-thinking their research questions and methods so that research can be meaningful in this current administration. We will then engage roundtable participants in critical discussion around topics such as whether social work researchers have a mandate to explicitly focus on social justice, and if so, how this should shape our research. This is not a new responsibility and communities have been dealing with crises before a Trump administration. However, as social welfare programs and policies face significant rapid defunding and as attacks on marginalized groups intensify, social work research may serve as a critical tool to address these barriers to social justice. Participants will discuss how to craft research questions that account for current political changes and uncertainty and to develop research projects that respond to social work's call for social justice. Through sharing examples and asking key questions for social work researchers, we hope to generate a useful discussion about the on the current role of social work research in the broader social justice landscape.
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