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Returning to the Past to Find the Future of Social Work:

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1 Returning to the Past to Find the Future of Social Work:
The Critical Role of Social Work Educators in Reclaiming Our Historical Leadership Position in Addressing Pressing Social Problems in the World Donna Leigh Bliss, MSW, Ph.D.

2 Overview Vision for Social Work Role of Social Work Educators
My Leadership Attributes Goodness of Fit with Vision, Mission, and Niche of UNE SSW


4 Vision for Social Work The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

5 Social Work Needs to Return to its Roots
The profession of social work grew out of efforts of persons during the Progressive Era to address unprecedented social problems and political corruption Where are our voices today?

6 Abandon the False Dichotomy
Social work has since evolved to more embrace the provision of direct services Did we abandon our historical mission? If social work is indeed a holistic profession, then the micro-macro debate is based on a false dichotomy and must be abandoned

7 Say Goodbye to Flexner At the 1915 National Conference on Charities and Corrections, Flexner questioned the validity of social work as a profession because its members lacked individual responsibility and lacked a written body of knowledge and educationally communicable techniques

8 Celebrate Our Unique Contributions
Social Work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and creating societal conditions favorable to this goal. Social Work practice consists of the professional application of Social Work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counseling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve processes. The practice of Social Work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interactions of all these factors.   NASW Board of Directors Person-in-environment perspective emphasizes role of context Social work values of promoting social, economic, and environmental justice Advocating for vulnerable populations

9 Role of Social Work Educators

10 Heal the Breach Most students are interested in micro practice
This shouldn’t mean that macro is de-emphasized Micro and macro are aspects of a whole Each are interdependent and influence the other Students need to be able to navigate micro and macro domains regardless of what area they want to practice in

11 Social Work is Leadership
Roots of social work grew out of the leadership efforts of concerned persons during the Progressive Era Students need to be supported in working through their self-doubt and learn how to find their voices Social workers are leaders Key skills that students can practice in classroom and field settings include (1) engaging in critical thinking, (2) contributing to public discourse, (3) using and producing research, (4)being proactive in advocating

12 Use 21st Century Digital Tools to Promote Social Work Values
Internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter are rapidly changing how political parties promote their agendas, corporations market their goods and services, and nonprofit organizations advocate for their causes Given the potential global reach of the Internet, a well-thought out and executed advocacy campaign now has the potential to go viral by utilizing social media The potential to “give voice” to social work values on a much larger scale is now possible, but it is up to educators to provide students the conceptual understanding and applied skills to be able to do so

13 Leadership Attributes
"We must be the change we wish to see."  M.K. Gandhi

14 Vision Having an accurate appraisal of the status quo
Need to first be grounded on where you are starting from rather than where you want to go Having an image of the desired state at some point in the future Developing a plan on the necessary steps to create this desired state and being able to implement the plan Need to be flexible in revising plan as conditions unfold and circumstances change over time

15 Collaboration and Teambuilding
There is no leadership without followers Followers need to buy in to the vision and the plan for creating it Need to inspire and support followers to take action and move forward Collaboration and team building are critical components of vision realization as people need to work together and in partnership with others in achieving a goal

16 Problem Solving Problems will always present themselves along the path of realizing a vision Need to both anticipate problems that can come up, but also act decisively when they unexpectedly arise Manage problems, don’t let them manage you Leaders need to reframe “problems” as challenges that we can overcome rather than barriers that block progress Nothing worthwhile ever gets created easily and without struggle

17 Generativity True leadership embraces supporting the leadership development of others Generativity was a prime motivator in my returning to school in 2002 to get a PhD Wanted to influence next generation of social workers I love teaching my students Maternal and Child Health Post-Graduate Leadership Academy Supports the emergence of the next generation of social work leaders in maternal and child health

18 Goodness of Fit with Vision, Mission, and Niche of UNE SSW

19 Vision The University of New England School of Social Work embraces a vision of sustainable, equitable, diverse communities committed to universal human rights and social and economic justice. From this perspective, health is identified as physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. Emphasis on health is unique as is the inclusion of spiritual well-being as a determinant of health My dissertation examined how severity of alcohol dependence impacted spiritual well-being Spirituality is a key aspect of my research agenda

20 Mission The mission of the School of Social Work is to educate a diverse cadre of professional social workers who will translate this vision into practice, to produce applied and evidence-based knowledge to push this vision forward, and to create and sustain interdisciplinary and collaborative partnerships with communities toward this vision. Mission statement is unique in that the mission of the UNE SSW is to educate social work professionals to operationalize the vision We help them to do this Emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative partnerships with communities is notable

21 Niches Program within College of Health Professions Regionally
Comprehensive definition of health Health is a universal right Suffering linked to inequity in distribution of resources Change structures and systems that foster these inequities Regionally Competing with 31 other MSW programs in 7 state Northeast region What is our niche relative to these programs? How do we build on our strengths to positively differentiate us from other programs?

22 My Professional Experiences

23 Administration Practice Academia
Created and directed Bridge Back, a residential addiction treatment program for persons with AIDS Directed Avery House, a halfway house for women and children Worked as a clinical supervisor at a methadone maintenance program Academia Served as chair of Faculty Executive Committee 2 years Serving as BSW Program Director for 2 years Currently serving as Interim Associate Dean for Administration, Planning, and Evaluation

24 Teaching Emphasis on embracing standards of excellence
Engage, Inspire, Support Effective teaching needs to link practice, research, policy, and advocacy Lilly Teaching Fellows Program Writing Fellows Program Voted by students Outstanding MSW Teacher in 2007 and Outstanding MNPO Teacher in 2011

25 Research Need for an explicit research culture that supports faculty research and raises leadership profile of School Emphasize importance of social work values in empirical research Practice models are an important social work contribution to research base as well Want to create center for interdisciplinary research on improving addiction treatment outcomes Institute for Behavioral Research Taking advantage of research mentoring Applying for NIAAA grant Empirical research Spirituality and addiction Practice models Disaster Relief Initiative (aka Hurricane Katrina Project) Screening and Brief Intervention Outcomes Measurement System

26 Service Use service-learning initiatives to increase linkages between community organizations and student learning Provide students with more applied, integrated learning opportunities Service-Learning Fellows Program websites Giving Voice to Us Hurricane Katrina Project

27 My Signature Initiatives

28 Expansion of Maternal and Child Health Post-Graduate Leadership Academy
Currently collaborate with University of Maryland School of Social Work Intensive, year-long program for 3 social workers in maternal and child health Current focus on Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions View website Expand to include MSW students Receive financial support Will fully participate in academy Attend retreats Receive mentoring MCH integrated field experience Capstone project

29 Center for Holistic Addiction Research and Treatment
Collaborative partnership with community providers Focus on providing innovative holistic treatment using interdisciplinary approach Practice, research, policy, advocacy focus Students have hands- on involvement Field placements Both clinical and administrative Service-learning opportunities Tie in with addiction class Continuing education possibilities for professionals

30 Next Steps

31 Strategic Plan Development
Evolution of online program Should program expand? If so, what markets will be served? Are necessary resources available? Development of doctoral program How can GADE’s guidelines be used to inform this process? Becoming an autonomous college versus remaining as a program in WCHP What are the pros and cons of each option? What are the areas of challenge and opportunity? Are there any unintended consequences that could occur?

32 Strategic Plan Development (cont.)
Importance of Interdisciplinary collaboration and partnerships Major focus of UNE Vision for the Future Many opportunities within UNE, WCHP, and community What is SSW role in Teaching Health Clinic, IPEC? How does SSW promote unique contribution of social work to teaching, research, and service collaborative initiatives? Barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration Diverse professional cultures can lead to profession-centrism SSW can play important role in reducing barriers by promoting interprofessional cultural competence Reducing Barriers to Interprofessional Training

33 Faculty Development Faculty development
Key to mission of preparing social work professionals to realize SSW vision What resources does faculty need Teaching Research Service Professional development Tenure and promotion How to best create a shared sense of connection with disparate faculty Community building What are the best ways to energize the unique contributions of each faculty member in a synergistic manner to benefit all constituencies The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts

34 All of our Successes and Strengths
Realized Vision for UNE School of Social Work Faculty Expertise and Capabilities Student Engagement and Potential University/ College Support and Collaboration Community Outreach and Partnership All of our Successes and Strengths

35 "The roots of effective leadership lie in simple things, one of which is listening. Listening to someone demonstrates respect; it shows that you value their ideas and are willing to hear them." John Baldoni (Michigan Radio (WUOM 91.7)

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