Abstract: The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE): A Historical Review (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

392P The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE): A Historical Review

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Raiza Beltran, MPH, PhD Candidate, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN
Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Background/Purpose: The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) is the social work organization committed to promoting rigor in North American social work and social welfare doctoral programs. While GADE’s current role is to support social work doctoral programs in training future researchers, scholars, and educators in the field, with an emphasis on supporting the research-based doctorate, the organization is currently in the midst of a transformation as it examines its role within the changing nature of social work doctoral education. The purpose of this study is to examine the formation and development of social work doctoral education during the 20th century to determine which key themes characterized the growth of both social work doctoral education broadly as well as GADE in particular.

Methods:  This study used historical research methods to analyze GADE’s archival documents, as outlined by Howell & Prevenier (2001). The primary sources analyzed were GADE’s administrative, educational and promotional materials found at the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota, as well as GADE’s precursors, including the NIMH-funded Doctoral and Third Year Committee of the American Association of Schools of Social Work in the 1940s and the Committee on Advanced Curriculum (CoAC). Primary sources included meeting minutes, conference programs, correspondence, and position papers, among other documents. Additional primary and secondary documents supplemented this study. While historical methods are not as commonly used in social work research, these methods are appropriate for answering historical questions, and are extremely common in the study of policy and organizations (McNabb, 2015).

Results: While doctoral education has changed dramatically in the hundred years since the first doctoral program was established in 1915, the early history of doctoral education helped to shape the nature and activities of GADE today. Several themes emerged in examining the history of social work doctoral education, including the critical role doctoral education played in strengthening scientific rigor in the field of social work, the tension between research-focused and practice-focused doctorates, and the importance of standards or guidelines for ensuring the quality of doctoral education. This research will be presented as an e-poster using an interactive timeline highlighting the study’s findings from the early beginnings of social work doctoral education in the early 20th century, through the establishment of GADE in 1977, and ending with GADE’s activities today.

Implications:  In recent years, the social work field has increasingly recognized the key role social work research can play in addressing societal problems and have advocated for more sophisticated methodological and theoretical scientific training within social work PhD programs. With GADE’s historical emphasis on promoting the research doctorate and in training the next generation of social work researchers, it is well situated to take the lead in the current landscape of tackling society’s grand challenges.  

Howell, M. C., & Prevenier, W. (2001). From reliable sources: An introduction to historical methods. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

McNabb, D. E. (2015). Research methods for political science: Quantitative and qualitative methods. Philadelphia Routledge.