Session: Privilege, Power, and Paradigms: A Better Future for Social Work Education and Knowledge Via Diverse Perspectives (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

264 Privilege, Power, and Paradigms: A Better Future for Social Work Education and Knowledge Via Diverse Perspectives

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Liberty Ballroom K, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research on Social Work Education (RSWE)
Katherine Tyson McCrea, PhD, Loyola University, Chicago, Anthony Johnson, Loyola University, Chicago, Margaret Ann Paauw, MSW, Loyola University, Chicago and Heather Watson, MSW, Loyola University, Chicago
Many years ago Thomas Kuhn found that most scientists educated in a scientific paradigm do not change paradigms, even though contradictory evidence abounds. Limited vision may be especially problematic for social work now. Increasingly, social work students represent marginalized identities, faculties and leadership remain dominated by persons holding white, male, heterosexual, and abled identities, and student complaints about implicit and explicit racism and sexism in aspects of social work education occur across the country. Experts on micro-aggressions are dubious about whether education can remedy implicit bias, while agreeing about the importance of trying. Moreover, the escalating crisis of economic inequality and U.S. political leadership messaging of racism, xenophobia, sexism, and ablism underscore the importance of finding ways to reduce harmful prejudice. Clearly we need to do better in educating social workers and generating anti-oppressive knowledge and practice models. Given that privileged persons have great difficulty recognizing micro-aggressions, perhaps the Platonic view that educators lead students trapped in a cave towards the light needs to be replaced by dialogic models in which privileged faculty learn from their students, and together they consider approaches to knowledge generation and social work education that are authentically representative. Further, given social work's demographics and political context, do social work's approaches to knowledge generation adequately fulfill the profession's mission of advancing social justice and empowering persons towards liberation? This roundtable addresses these core concerns in a dialogic process led by Ph.D. students. A bibliography of related readings will be made available to participants. Following a description of the key problems noted above, the roundtable describes social work's contemporary approaches to knowledge generation, with their implications for social work education: 1) evidence-based practice models, 2) social constructionism, 3) critical realism, 4) neo-pragmatism, 5) critical race theory, anti-oppressive, and decolonizing approaches. Then, the presenters briefly describe their experiences of social work education, with recommendations for improvements. The ensuing discussion addresses questions raised by all participants, including: 1. What does it mean to be an ally, for instance, when micro-aggressions happen in the classroom and academy? How can faculty holding privileged identities, and those joining a privileged group by virtue of their entrance into academia, develop and preserve a critical stance that includes sustaining ally-ship? 2. How can faculty understand and support students' cultural humility and reflexivity regarding their own identities and privileges, enabling them to be anti-oppressive in practice and to generate knowledge that authentically reflects their communities? 3. Can social work do better in educating students to resist rather than comply with the status quo in approaches to knowledge and practice? 4. How does social work's approach to knowledge generation foster or perpetuate inequalities occurring in the wider society? 5. Social work is increasingly global, and yet on the global stage U.S. social work often is seen as lagging behind the rest of the world in its embrace of community-based, participatory approaches to knowledge. How can we in the U.S. join our colleagues around the world? How can social work knowledge and education better represent international students?
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