School’s Dedication to Diversity
At UConn, our commitment to diversity is reflected in our staff, faculty, student body, associated field agencies, our involvement in community service, and the curriculum itself. The School has an outstanding record of racial-ethnic diversity, with over one-third of faculty, staff and students being members of groups that are underrepresented in the university and in higher education. Diversity includes a wide range of human differences. Here at the School of Social Work, particular attention is given to differences that, historically, have been used to target social groups and their members for marginalization, exclusion and discrimination.
“Just Community: Change Starts Here”
We strive to advance diversity by developing a welcoming and inclusive environment where all members of the School community have equal opportunities to thrive. Promoting cultural competence (i.e. the ability to work effectively with a wide range of human differences) among members of the School community supports these aspirations. The global and diverse context of social work education and practice requires that cultural competence be integrated throughout the School’s teaching, research and public engagement activities. Special attention is continuously given to preparing faculty and staff to work effectively and inclusively with an ever more diverse student body. Preparing students for culturally competent practice is also an important focus of this initiative. Many opportunities are available for faculty, staff and students to engage in learning and professional development to increase their cultural competence.
In September 2010, Dean Salome Raheim established the Cultural Competence Action Committee (CCAC) which is comprised of administration, faculty, staff, field instructors, students and alumni, in response Goal 4 the School of Social Work’s 2009 – 2014 Academic Plan:
Ensure a more diverse, inclusive and just community that fosters cultural competence in teaching, scholarship and service.
Work to Date
- Distributed a Self-Assessment Survey to constituent groups: faculty, staff, students, School advisory boards and field instructors
- Co-sponsored Community Conversation with HopeWorks and West Hartford Equity in Education Partnership
- Provided professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, including: Enhancing Organizational Cultural Competence, presented by Terry L. Cross, MSW, ACSW, Executive Director, National Indian Child Welfare Association
- Offered programs to support and foster a work environment of open communication among faculty and staff
- Facilitated a LGBTQIA & Ally Student Focus Group
- Developed Strategies for Action based on the results of the Self-Study Survey and feedback from CCAC activities
- Encouraged the establishment of the Student CCAC Sub-Committee
- Formalized “Just Community: Change Starts Here”
Listing of Current Committee Members
“Jay Smooth – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race”
Diversity as a Fabric of Our Community
The School addresses diversity in a number of ways, which allows for faculty, staff and students to be a part of our ongoing efforts. We begin by sponsoring the annual Convocation on Cultural Competence, a means to emphasize the School’s commitment to the profession’s Standards for Cultural Competence. This experience helps incoming students understand the definition of cultural competence, how to work effectively with a wide range of human diversity including culture, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status, and age.
Field education gives students the opportunity for exposure to various social work settings and populations. Students have the chance to integrate theory with practice as class content in many courses draws heavily from the agency experience. The Annual Diversity/Field Advising Seminar focuses on a specific cultural competence related topic that is integrated into students’ field seminar discussion focusing on self-reflection, critical thinking, and informed practice.
There are also co-curricular activities that allow students the opportunity to engage in meaningful experiences. The Graduate Student Organization offers social, cultural and educational events, as well as networking opportunities. Its sub-organizations include the Asian and Asian American Student Organization, Latin American Student Organization, Jewish Social Work Alliance, Organization of Black Social Work Students, PRIDE, Progressive Action Committee, Social Workers for Global Justice, Student Veterans and Supporters Alliance, and the Women’s Caucus.
Our Specialized Institutes, Centers, and Projects address a range of contemporary issues and professional challenges. The Center for International Social Work Studies, Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work, and the Puerto Rican & Latino Studies Project all host open conferences, workshops, and other educational opportunities throughout the year.
Students also have an opportunity to complement their method concentration with a Focused Area of Study. To do this, students can organize their nine elective credits on a special population or social problem. These courses broaden knowledge and skills to work in the context of diversity.
We encourage you to think about your commitment to the values and ethics of the profession and its commitment to cultural competence. If you are a prospective student, consider whether the mission of the UConn School of Social Work is compatible with your own values and goals. If you are already a member of the SSW Community, we invite you to join us as we pursue our journey to make a difference.