Session: Design-Thinking in Social Work: Techniques and Approaches to Bridge Individual-Interventions with Policy Advocacy (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

256 Design-Thinking in Social Work: Techniques and Approaches to Bridge Individual-Interventions with Policy Advocacy

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Supreme Court, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Lisa Mercer, MFA, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Rachael Dietkus, MSW, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Aakanksha Sinha, PhD, Seattle University and Judith Havlicek, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
There is growing recognition being given to the need in social work to generate more assertive, forward thinking, and sustainable responses to the Grand Challenges that defy ordinary solutions (Kemp & Palinkas, 2015). Still, much remains to be done to develop and implement practical, effective, evidence-based, equitable, and durable strategies for anticipating, mitigating, and responding to complex challenges and escalating risks. While much has been written about the need to link conceptualization of social justice with practices social workers should adopt to address social inequalities (Dotolo, Linhurst, Kemp, & Engleberg, 2018), there is a dearth of literature in social work that explicitly addresses techniques and approaches that can be used to span the continuum of individual-interventions to policy advocacy. This workshop addresses this gap. It explores design thinking for social work, an approach that uses human-centered design methodologies to activate quick iterations to learning, teaching, research, and work with communities and organizations and activates sustained solutions.

In this workshop we will utilize the non-profit Operation Compass as an example of this type of design method for rapid iteration. Operation Compass is an ethnographic research study whose purpose was to propose a successful integration of technology into the humanitarian challenge of combating human trafficking. The first phase of research was focused on a common venue for human trafficking in the United States—truck stops—and focused on the question, “Would a form of integrated technology allow truck drivers to report incidents of human trafficking at a higher rate?” The result of this work was a mobile application and non-profit, Operation Compass. The mobile application was released on the Apple App Store and Google Play in December 2015 and received its first suspected instance report on December 25, 2015. The second phase of research was focused on the transition of Operation Compass into a nonprofit entity in May 2014. The goal of the non-profit was to answer some of the limitations of the original research and to harness existing and emerging technology for social change. This process was applied in order to empower multiple industries across local, state, and federal levels - service providers, law enforcement, social service agencies, and victim advocates - to collaborate on behalf of human trafficking victims and survivors.

Following the exploration of Operation Compass as an example of design thinking application to a vexing problem, the workshop will provide participants with opportunities to apply methods of empathy mapping, problem identification, ideation, mapping ideas to delimit, collaboration and partnerships to their own research questions and areas of interest. The final step will allow participants to pitch a design thinking idea to their community partners by developing a concept product.

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