Abstract: Steps Towards Decolonizing Social Work Education and Research: Examining Curricula (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Steps Towards Decolonizing Social Work Education and Research: Examining Curricula

Friday, January 13, 2023
Maryvale A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Dante Bryant, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Background: In June 2020, the Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) publicly declared “Eliminate Racism” as its 13th, and the newest addition to the initial 12. However, accompanying this release was an equally powerful statement, denoting the United States as a country “... built on a legacy of racism and White supremacy...” The significance of this declaration is its innate tendency to turn

back on the 13th grand challenge, by defining the problem and demarcating the scope of social works’ task. Correspondingly, within this same pronouncement is a subtler,

and potentially overlooked, calls for social workers to engage in the preparatory act of critical, professional self-evaluation. Put differently, contained within their 2020 release is a call for social work to examine, as part of the larger society, its own investment in ideological and behavioral practices that promote “...racist policies, bias, and discriminatory practices...” (GCSW, 2020).

Methods: A critical review of social work literature focused on engaging racial inequalities suggests the persistence of a series of neglected conceptual and behavioral models that actively reinforce existing practices of racial marginalization in social work curricula.

Results: Social work has long been self-identified as a progressive, helping, liberative profession. However, this personal hypothesis has been largely sustained independent of any persistent critical interrogation of its epistemological, pedagogical, and performative assumptions, practices, or outputs. Unfortunately, this oversight, which has gained considerable attention in the past few years, has rendered social work susceptible to participating, unintentionally or otherwise, in the same systems of racial injustice it publicly castigates. Therefore, this presentation will explore the intersectional conflict between social work’s ideological assumptions, educational practices, research, and its professed desires to decolonize the profession and eliminate racism.

Conclusion: To the extent to which social work desires to manifest its professional ideals, a congruent culture of human interchange, and body of curriculum, it must prioritize investments in the development, promotion, and proliferation of research and evaluative efforts that call attention to the unique and often unacknowledged ways in which social work actively and passively reinforces systems of marginalization it desires to eliminate. However, doing so is not easy, and will require social workers to recontextualize voices and experiences that have been historically relegated to dismissible, a-historical, subjective, and individualized abnormalities. This does not mean that these voices should be elevated or centralized to the exclusion of others; rather, they should be fully integrated, thus expanding the existing discourse in ways that are edifying, sustainable, challenging, and scalable.