Abstract: Social Work Faculty Attitudes Toward Diversity and Social Justice (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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582P Social Work Faculty Attitudes Toward Diversity and Social Justice

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Lorraine Gutierrez, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Andrea Mora, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Elizabeth Meier-Austic, PhD, Data Project Manager, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Carl Greer, MSW, PhD Student, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Stuart Inahuazo, MSW, Research Assistant, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Purpose: Social Work education plays a critical role in preparing professionals for work that advances its mission, values, and ethics. This includes learning to engage practice on all levels that contributes to positive social change to improve our human condition. Social work education must prepare students to understand social issues, advance social justice and alleviate oppression, particularly among vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. In order to achieve this mission CSWE accreditation standards mandate that programs teach students about diversity, human rights, and social, economic and environmental justice. Faculty support for, and commitment to, curriculum content that address these accreditation standards is critical to achieve the goals of social work education for social change. This study surveyed a random sample of 1000 MSW program faculty in the US to understand their commitment to social justice, racial equity, and social change. The goal was to identify the range of support for different dimensions of social justice and anti-racist education, faculty preparedness to teach this content, and differences among faculty that may relate to type of program, region, background, and other dimensions.

Methods: A survey of social work faculty teaching in accredited MSW programs in the United States investigated different aspects of knowledge and commitment to teaching about diversity, human rights, racism, and social and economic justice. A list of all MSW faculty members listed on CSWE accredited programs’ websites in 2018-2019 was used to develop the sample. A sample of 1000 social work faculty was selected randomly from the total list (4,537). Dillman’s Tailored Design Method was used to distribute the survey through Qualtrics, an online survey platform. The survey had a 26% response rate of faculty completing the survey.

Results: Descriptive, parametric and nonparametric statistics were used to analyze the responses. Respondents overall endorse attitudes supportive of racial equity, diversity, human rights, and social and economic justice, however each of these dimensions received different levels of support. For example, respondents more strongly supported issues related to racial or immigrant justice than those reflecting economic or gender justice. When looking at within group differences, faculty of color were more supportive of immigration justice, racial justice, and gender justice. Female faculty were more supportive of gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice, while male faculty were more likely to describe themselves as more conservative than their co-workers. Overall, younger faculty were more likely to support gender justice and racial justice.

Conclusions and Implications: These findings suggest that if we are genuine in our intent to prepare our students to understand social issues, advance social justice and alleviate oppression and to work towards social change, we need to find ways to engage faculty who have differing views regarding these issues. This will require more support and faculty development efforts that can lead to courses that will help social work students to develop the skills to practice from a social justice and racial equity perspective.