Re-Envisioning Social Work Education
Building and Living a Social Justice-focused Clinical Social Work Curriculum
Keywords:social justice, social work education, social work curriculum, clinical social work, equity
Social justice is a central principle of the social work profession and education. However, it can become a hollow ideal unless it is specifically addressed in all applications of social work practice. Scholars have long questioned the social work profession’s commitment to putting social justice into practice. Clinical social work has been particularly criticized for its lack of attention to social justice and for failing to address the concerns of the oppressed by relying on individual intervention while overlooking system-level changes. Given that clinical social work is the largest specialization in social work practice, clinical social work programs must re-envision their curriculum to fully address this criticism and educate future social workers to pursue social justice at all levels of practice. This paper presents the collective work of the social work faculty at a clinical social work program to construct a social justice-focused clinical social work curriculum, which culminated in a statement on social justice commitment in their curriculum, illustrates the iterative process of this work, and discusses the lessons from this experience. Implications include the importance of shared understanding of social justice and articulating how it operates in all aspects of social work practice as well as in social work pedagogy.
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