CSI: The Motley Crew
|Cathy J. Harner, ACSW, LCSW, PhD.||Michele Mallett, ACSW, LCSW|
|Professor/Chair Social Work Department||Instructor|
|| Fort Wayne,
|(765) 998-5209||(260) 744-8829|
|(765) 998-4980||(765) 998-4980|
The presenters of this workshop will share the framework of a course in which students learn about diversity, social justice and oppression using an experiential model. Data regarding the changing attitudes of students as identified through pre and post tests will be discussed. (CSI=Constructing Social Integration)
Teaching about diversity, prejudice, discrimination and oppression
can be a depressing and often frightening group of topics especially at a predominantly
white middle class university that has the dubious identifying distinction of also being
an evangelical Christian university. However,
if combined with theory related to the application of the strengths perspective, social
justice theory, social construction theory and cultural identity development theory, as
well as the application of relationship development and service learning, the resulting
phenomenon could be a culturally competent human being.
Culture competence occurs as an individual learns more about a person
who is culturally different, understands that values vary among individuals and variations
may be influenced by a persons identity, and becomes more knowledgeable about many
different groups of people.
All people have some degree of prejudices. It seems as though those prejudices are challenged
only when individuals meet and get to know people who do not fall into the stereotypes
that have been assigned them. Merely
providing education regarding people groups does not appear to be enough to challenge
inappropriate thinking. Relationship
development seems to be a key in breaking the cycle of prejudice discrimination and
oppression. Perhaps we need to be more
proactive in developing relationships with people who appear to be different than we are.
That is what the class Unleashing the Oppressed seeks to
do. The class gives the students the
opportunity to develop relationships with individuals who identify with people groups who
fall into at risk for discrimination categories not related to race or
ethnicity. These groups include disabilities
(mental, developmental, physical), aging, women, sexual orientation, and religion. A service learning component enables students to
build a relationship (either as acquaintance or volunteer activity with an organization
that serves the population group) with at least one individual of an at-risk population
group. Service learning is intended to give
students the opportunity to participate and process the activity in an intentional way. The students then have the opportunity to teach
others about what they had learned and experienced.
Social work education should be designed so that it is useful when
the students become practitioners. Respecting
the inherent worth and dignity of the individual is an important social work core value. As students model this attribute to clients,
friends, family, society, perhaps our society can move beyond the hatred and even move
past the tolerance to a sphere of true acceptance of an individual without prejudging or
presupposing. Once students begin to breakdown
the stereotypes of one population group, it is the hope that they will not prejudge
another based on stereotypes alone.
The presenters of this workshop will share the framework of this course that teaches about diversity, social justice and oppression using an experiential model. Data regarding attitudes of students toward at risk population groups becoming more socially just will be discussed as it supports the idea that attitudes may change over time because those attitudes are socially constructed.