2012

Vol 3(2): Autumn 2012

Top Story

BACK TO SCHOOL AMIDST A WHIRL OF ACTIVITIES

An array of activities aimed at welcoming and informing students kicked off the new academic year. Orientation Days gave incoming MSW and PhD students a chance to meet and greet faculty and peers and learn about their programs.

A Sept. 6th Orientation Day for incoming MSW students was organized by the FIFSW Graduate Student Association (GSA) which represents MSW students. The day began in the majestic surroundings of Hart House’s Great Hall where students were welcomed by faculty and student groups. Speakers encouraged students to make their time at the Faculty the best possible experience by becoming truly engaged. Afternoon events took place at the Faculty where students learned about the many ways they can have an impact by getting involved in organizations and committees, such as the GSA or the student-run interprofessional IMAGINE Clinic that caters to downtown Toronto’s homeless and underserved. Students met with Faculty Advisors, Advanced Standing students had their own event and the day ended with a chance to network at a pub night.

Orientation Day for incoming PhD students on Sept. 7th was held in the Student Lounge at the Faculty. Students were welcomed with a series of presentations that both inspired and informed them. They heard that they were now part of a Faculty that is internationally recognized as a leader in integrating research and practice and that graduates from the FIFSW PhD program are exerting a powerful impact across the globe. Acting PhD Director Professor Izumi Sakamoto and Faculty Registrar Sharon Bewell gave them an overview of the program and outlined important funding supports. The afternoon featured talks from current PhD students Erinn Michèle Treff and MJ Rwigema, who are Chairs of the FIFSW PhD Student Association. Students also learned about Accessibility Services and Collaborative Programs.

Once classes began, students participated in many other activities designed to enrich their overall educational experience. An overflow crowd attended a “Writing at the Graduate Level” seminar on Sept. 24th led by Dr. Dena Bain Taylor, Director of U of T’s Health Sciences Writing Centre. A yearly event, students find this popular seminar extremely useful. Among other events, diversity workshops were held for 1st year MSW students and Advanced Standing students; there was an information sesssion by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and an Interprofessional Education workshop that introduced students to the breadth of interprofessional activities available to them.

First year MSW students started class by attending a two day conference. “Introduction to Social Work” provides students with an introduction to a wide spectrum of approaches to social work, while also giving students a chance to meet faculty members and colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere. The two-day conference is held every year in the Coop cafeteria in Brennan Hall at U of T’s St. Michael’s College where students sit together at round tables. Best of all, the seating arrangement facilitates discussion.

New speakers this year included Dr. Deborah Goodman, Director of the Child Welfare Institute at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, who told the assembled group: “You came here because you care about people. Don’t ever lose that.” Professor Michael Saini discussed research, calling it “an important tool in the social work toolbox.”

Other new speakers were Gillian McCloskey, Associate Executive Director of the OASW and Myra Lefkowitz, U of T’s Manager of Health and Well-being Programs and Services and Rae Johnson, U of T’s Coordinator of Student Crisis on the importance of self-care. Professor Lin Fang gave a new presentation this year discussing the increasingly important issue of the professional use of social media, telling the students that they must begin to think of themselves as having not only a personal online identity, but also a professional one.

For incoming MSW students, this annual introductory conference is a wonderful way to ease into the upcoming year. It gives them a context and a framework that helps them in their studies. Many students said that it made them feel excited and that they hadn’t realized how many options there are in social work.

The conference also serves to inspire students about their chosen profession. When Professor Cheryl Regehr, Vice-Provost, Academic Programs looked around at the assembled students and told them how competitive it is to get into the FIFSW MSW program or when Professor Rob MacFadden said, “I look out at this room and I see collaborators who will work to make our communities more just,” these were proud and validating moments for the students and justifiably so. All in all, a great way to launch their learning process.

What’s Going On

EQUITY MATTERS AT THE FACULTY

As the Faculty’s new Equity Advisor, Terry Gardiner is available to meet with students, faculty and staff for conversation about any sensitive or challenging issues of diversity and equity that may arise.

“If questions come up, or if somebody’s not sure but they’re starting to feel something, then they can come and talk to me,” he says. “What we don’t want is for individuals to hold on to something that doesn’t feel comfortable until it becomes a big deal.”

“At this Faculty, we bring people together from many different backgrounds and inevitably there will be misunderstandings. It would be strange if there weren’t. So if you hear a professor say something that you don’t agree with and you don’t feel comfortable raising your hand in class or if you say something and you’re thinking later that you shouldn’t have said it, then come and talk it through. We can try and figure out a strategy, if one is even required. We want social work to be a place where we can respectfully and appropriately support one another in this learning process.”

Terry has supported students in various roles at the Faculty and the Equity Advisor position adds to his already existing responsibilities. His new title is the Student Life, Outreach and Equity Advisor. Make an appointment by contacting Terry at terry.gardiner@utoronto.ca or 416-946-0720 or drop by Room 106A.

Other members of the FIFSW Equity Team are Janet Mawhinney (Manager, Diversity & Equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) and Rani Srivastava (Chief of Nursing and Professional Practice at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) who facilitate student workshops and support development and implementation of the FIFSW equity strategy.

NEW COLLABORATION WITH CANADIAN ROOTS EXCHANGE

The Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) is now located in room 350 at the Faculty. CRE is a national nonprofit educational organization. Bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, CRE provides Indigenous-based leadership, learning and reconciliation experiences.

CRE wants to reach as many people as possible. It therefore organizes youth-led workshops and experiential exchange programs designed to deepen understanding and knowledge of the history, struggles and triumphs of Indigenous Canadians. CRE is dedicated to breaking down stereotypes and opening a dialogue that will enable all Canadians to learn from our country’s First Peoples.

“This is a youth-led organization,” says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Status-Only Assistant Professor at the Faculty and President, Board of Directors of the CRE. “I’ve learned over the years in working with young people that they are better leaders of each other than adults because they speak the same language. The youth see the possibilities of engagement and positive interaction.”

Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux and CRE’s Executive Director, Vibhor Garg, will make themselves available if faculty members or students want to have a conversation in class about issues of engagement and reconciliation in Canada. Contact Vibhor Garg in room 350 at 416-946-5047 to learn more about the exciting possibilities generated by this collaboration or visit http://www.canadianroots.ca/.

SOCIAL POLICY ADVOCATE JOINS THE FACULTY

Join us in extending a warm welcome to Dan Zuberi who has joined the Faculty as an Associate Professor with a joint appointment at the School of Public Policy and Governance. Read more in the upcoming issue of Reach.

THE WRITE STUFF

U of T’s Health Sciences Writing Centre offers help to students in five faculties: social work; kinesiology and physical education; dentistry; pharmacy; and nursing. “The centre is unique,” says Director Dr. Dena Bain Taylor. “There is no other program like this that is geared solely to helping students in the health sciences. We work with students all the way from fresh out of high school right through to the PhD level. It’s a fascinating variety.”

The centre offers one-on-one sessions with students as well as workshops. Taylor’s September orientation workshop at the Faculty for 1st year MSW students is always extremely popular – so much so that next year it will be held in the OISE auditorium to accommodate the overflow crowd. Amazingly, only four instructors manage to see about 500-600 students a year, offering approximately 2,000 one-on-one sessions per year.

Social work students sing the praises of the centre. Students bring to the sessions whatever they’re working on – from course assignments to grant applications – and the centre helps them to craft their work. If instructors are working with students on comprehensive papers or dissertations, meetings take place on a continual basis over a couple of years.

And the help doesn’t stop there. Students can receive help with conference presentations and getting published. Teaching assistants receive help with issues related to teaching and marking.

“It’s especially valuable,” says Taylor, “to be offering this kind of help to students in the health sciences like social work. What students need to understand is that writing is a skill like any other and it can be learned.”

The centre has an office at the Faculty in room 344, where instructors can be found on Mondays and Tuesdays. “The only problem,” says Taylor, “is that we fill up very quickly and we are already overbooked.”

Contact them at www.hswriting.ca if you’d like to set up an appointment.

 

ENHANCING THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Second year MSW student Rebecca Bliss – who is Secretary of the Graduate Student Association (GSA) which represents MSW students — says that student associations like the GSA play a vital role at the Faculty. “It’s really important for us to be able to engage the community at the Faculty, to have events that represent the interests of the community and of the profession, and to connect faculty to students.”

On Nov. 5th, the GSA held a fundraiser offering coffee in the Faculty lobby, with proceeds going to New Circles, a Toronto-based organization which helps out needy families. During November, the GSA supported Movember through fundraising and awareness efforts by putting on a social and dodgeball game. Movember is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer and men’s mental health issues. Members of the GSA also accepted tokens or loose change in the Faculty’s lobby on behalf of “Tokens 4 Change” for youth who are homeless. And both the PhD Student Association (PhDSA) and the GSA will organize a food drive at the Faculty.

The GSA presented an information session on the Faculty’s Collaborative Programs at the end of November. “This was an identified need from 1st year students,” says Bliss, “They said they didn’t understand the programs. Representatives from the programs and student representatives will share information on the programs.”

The Nov. 18th Holiday Parade, organized by the PhDSA with support from the GSA, was a wonderful opportunity for everyone at the Faculty to bring their children to watch the Santa Claus Parade. 3rd year PhD student Erinn Michèle Treff, who co-chairs the PhDSA with Sophia Fantus and MJ Rwigema, says that the Holiday Parade is a way to bring together all members of the Faculty community. “Rooms on the third and fifth floors of the Faculty will be open so everyone can have a good view of the parade,” says Treff. “We have pizza, snacks and events like ‘create your own gingerbread cookies.’ It’s a great way to get to know people in the Faculty.”

An end-of-term social at the Bedford Pub on Dec. 7th is also organized by the PhDSA and the GSA. “New this year is the fact that this event is for everyone at the Faculty,” says Bliss. “It’s for students, faculty, administrative staff, for anyone doing research or involved in any way with the Faculty so everyone gets to understand the breadth of the community.”

Treff, who is now in her third year on the PhDSA, says she likes building and fostering a sense of community. Treff emphasizes that the PhDSA is happy to support people who come to them with ideas for events. “If students want to do an event, that’s great,” says Treff. “They should tell us what they need and we’ll work with them. We’re here to support people however we can.”  The PhDSA, for example, is supporting a clothing drive for “Three Little Birds,” a nonprofit that is being set up to help women who have experienced violence.

The PhDSA is also supporting a doctoral student, Sajedeh Zahraei, who plans to establish a Critical Qualitative Thesis Group, a peer support group for students writing their dissertations at the Faculty. “She recognized the need for a peer support group,” says Treff, “for students when they’re writing. She wants to create a positive space, critical but supportive, where people can get together and talk through what they’re experiencing and provide support and assistance.”

1ST YEAR PHD STUDENTS GET A BUDDY

Co-ordinator 2nd year PhD student MJ Rwigema says that the PhD Buddy Program offers a lot of benefits to 1st year PhD students. “I think a lot of us who have gone through 1st year in the PhD program took away a lot of insight about what kind of information we would have liked to have had prior to or during our 1st year.”

“For us,” says Rwigema, “our experience is still fresh. A program like this provides a different set of supports for students. It also helps to build community and networks for the students that may lead to future collaborations. There are so many possibilities created by this kind of program.”  The PhD Buddy Program grew out of the highly successful FIFSW MSW Buddy Program.

IT’S ON THE WALL

The Social Work Art Wall provides a wonderful opportunity for all members of the FIFSW community to exhibit their artwork in a space that encourages meaningful discussion of the art hanging on the wall. Discussion is fostered by questions such as “What do you think the art is about?” and “What is your immediate reaction?” which are posted nearby, prompting viewers to reflect upon their reactions to the art.

A recent exhibit featured the photographs of Jim Moore, who has worked as the Faculty’s multimedia specialist for the last ten years. This was the first time he has exhibited prints of his work. A musician and avid hiker, many of his photos reflect his strong interest in environmental issues and nature.

Now hanging on the Art Wall until Jan. 11th is a new exhibition, “No Refuge for Roma,”  depicting the plight of Hungarian Roma refugees.

The Social Work Art Wall is curated by Natasha Valentine. Please contact Natasha to learn more n.valentine@utoronto.ca.

THE EXTRAORDINARY SUMMER MENTORSHIP PROGRAM

Each summer, students in U of T’s Summer Mentorship Program have the opportunity to learn about a possible future career in social work by spending a day immersed in social work. Students visited the Faculty in the morning and then spent the afternoon with social workers at their jobs getting a true sense of what social work is actually like. Activities at the FIFSW were co-ordinated by alumnus Terry Gardiner, Student Life, Outreach and Equity Advisor,  and alumna Cheryl Mitri, Counsellor and Professor at Seneca College.

For many students, this year’s highlight was the participation of three social work PhD students, Rhonda Hackett, Billie Allan and Gigi Goary, who led small group discussions, shared their own personal experiences and participated in an interactive simulated scenario. Students found the scenario extremely helpful and relevant. For them, it brought social work to life, giving them a chance to watch and discuss a typical interaction between a social worker and client. Students also got a chance to see the kind of effect social workers can have on their clients.

“Feedback from the students,” says Gardiner, “was very positive on the interactive aspect of the scenario. Every couple of minutes, we would break and invite the students to suggest what the social worker should do next. For example, we would ask what kind of questions would you ask here.”

“Feedback on social work was also very positive from the students. We’re trying to help students make informed decisions when they’re thinking about their post-secondary education choices,” says Gardiner.

Recently in Practicum

WHAT WE’RE LEARNING FROM SIMULATION

This Dec. 5th workshop led by Dr. Ellen Katz is designed to support field instructors in the all-important work they do with students. The workshop focuses on new insights we are gaining through simulation-based teaching and evaluation into students’ states of mind as they approach practicum. Katz is Assistant Professor Status-Only at the Faculty and Acting Program Supervisor in Outpatients at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre.

Our Faculty is a leading innovator in social work education through our use of simulation-based approaches to teach and evaluate students. In simulated standardized scenarios, students interact with highly trained actors in lifelike scenes that simulate typical interactions between social workers and clients.

This December will mark the third time that simulated standardized scenarios (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations – or OSCEs – Adapted for Social Work) are used as part of the December final evaluation to assess 1st year MSW students. Commonly used in the Health Sciences as a teaching and assessment tool, their use in 1st year MSW exams was developed at the Faculty as part of a groundbreaking research program led by Professor Marion Bogo.

“Simulated standardized scenarios,” says Katz, “provide students with an actual practice situation by working with professional actors who are trained to play clients. They give the students a very real experience of what it’s like to be with a client.”

Simulation-based teaching and evaluation provides us with important information that field instructors can build upon. “What we’re learning,” says Bogo, “helps field instructors by giving them information about how students perform in simulated situations and the nature of their reflections on those interviews. They can use that information as a bridge to build upon. It gives us insight into areas that students have mastered and tells us where they need to focus.”

“From an analysis of the students’ performance and reflections in these simulated standardized scenarios,” says Bogo, “we’ve identified areas where students have a beginning foundation of skills. The field instructor then can help the students to transfer these skills into the field and to build upon them in working with the client. We’ve also learned that it’s very helpful to focus on students being able to remain emotionally centred in themselves in their interviews. This workshop will use our research findings to support field instructors as they begin to work with students.”

These days, Bogo is fielding phone calls from social work schools around the world who are eager to learn how to develop their own simulation-based teaching and evaluation programs. That international attention is a testament to just how much we are learning from this innovative educational technique. The simulation-based teaching and evaluation research program is led by Professor Marion Bogo and Professor and Vice-Provost Academic Programs Cheryl Regehr, with Dr. Ellen Katz, Dr. Carmen Logie (Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary) and Dr. Lea Tufford.

Recent Events

CHINA IN FOCUS

An October 10th seminar at the Faculty highlighted the implications for social work and social policy of China’s increasing importance in the globalized market economy. Professor A. Ka Tat Tsang (Director of the China Project and the Factor-Inwentash Chair in Social Work in the Global Community), Alison MacKenzie (MSW student) and Cindy Choi (PhD candidate) discussed their experience developing programs, courses and practice models in China and within Toronto’s Chinese communities.

MULTICULTURALISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Dr. Karen Mock examined the challenges presented by our increasingly diverse society when human rights and freedoms compete or collide in an October 15th seminar at the Faculty. One of Canada’s foremost authorities on human rights, multiculturalism and hate crime, Mock addressed such complex issues as how far we should go to accommodate differences, while remaining committed to human rights, fairness and equality for all.

COMMUNITY DIALOGUE ON IMMIGRATION

Alumni, students, faculty and community members attended an Oct. 22nd Community Dialogues evening at the Faculty. Paulina Wyrzykowski, Coordinator of Immigrant and Refugee Services at St. Christopher House, provided an overview of recent changes to refugee determination and immigration in Canada, focusing on the impact these changes will have on refugees’ access to healthcare. Sidonia Couto, Child and Youth Counsellor at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, discussed how these changes are affecting her work with children and families.

The next Community Dialogue forum will take place in Spring 2013.

THE TRICKY SPOTS

In this Oct. 26th morning workshop at the Faculty for Year 2 and Advanced Standing students, Sarah Margles (who has worked in global justice education with American Jewish World Service) discussed tricky situations of social justice within marginalized populations, offering practical tools to help navigate towards the elimination of all forms of oppression.

FALL CONVOCATION

Convocation ceremonies for MSW, PhD and Advanced Diploma in Social Service Administration students were held on Tuesday, November 13th, followed by a luncheon reception at the Faculty Club, sponsored by the Alumni Association. Congratulations to our illustrious graduates. You make us proud.

OPENING UP THE WORLD OF PHD RESEARCH

Participants responded enthusiastically to this stimulating Nov. 20th event at the Faculty in which PhD students Sarah Serbinski and Raluca Bejan discussed their recent research. Now in its second successful year, the evening gave an audience of alumni, field instructors, MSW and PhD students a rare chance to learn about research being conducted by emerging scholars at the Faculty.

Alumni President Doreen Winkler welcomed everyone by describing the origin of the series, saying how pleased the Alumni Association was to support it, and Acting Director PhD Program Director & Associate Professor Izumi Sakamoto facilitated a lively discussion.

3rd year PhD student Sarah Serbinski discussed the process of integrating interpersonal neurobiology into our understanding of the emotions of sons and daughters of foster parents. Serbinski has successfully completed her comprehensive paper and is now putting together her thesis proposal.

1st year PhD student Raluca Bejan discussed a research project conducted over the 2011-2012 academic year through a partnership between Meta Strategies and WoodGreen Community Services. The project used social network analysis to assess the collaboration among professionals delivering immigration and settlement services within the Toronto East neighbourhood.

 

Vol 3(1): Spring 2012

Top Stories

BOUNDLESS GENEROSITY

When Sheldon Inwentash was asked about the landmark contribution he and his wife, Lynn Factor, gave to our Faculty in 2007, he said, “For years, I have contemplated how I would give back in the event that I became a success. It was Lynn who ultimately inspired this gift and it is my gift to her for all she has taught me about social justice.”

That generous and unprecedented contribution was an endorsement of this Faculty’s achievements and goals. It was also an investment in this Faculty’s future. By establishing five endowed chairs and 50 graduate student scholarships, it enabled the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work to attract and retain the most talented faculty members and offer places to the most promising students, no matter what their circumstances.

Now, Sheldon Inwentash, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Pinetree Capital Ltd., is strengthening that endorsement by chairing the Campaign for Social Work, because he believes in what this Faculty can accomplish and in the goals this Faculty is pursuing.

The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work is at a transformative moment in its nearly 100 year history. Standing with us, is an illustrious team of transformers led by Sheldon Inwentash.  As Honorary Chairs, we have an inspirational group of dedicated individuals: Lynn Factor, Shari Fell, The Right Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain and Chancellor Emerita Rose Wolfe. The Campaign Cabinet consists of a dynamic group of business and community leaders who are all strong role models: Karen and Ray Arbesman, Richard Cummings, Pat Dicapo and Jennifer Cuipa, Gerald Feldman, Max and Heather Gotlieb, Theo Koffler, and David Peltz.

The Campaign for Social Work is part of the University of Toronto’s Boundless campaign, which will position this University as a global leader in the quest to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, with its commitment to promoting societal wellbeing, will play an integral role in that endeavour.

EXEMPLIFYING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A SOCIAL WORKER

“I’ve always wanted to be a social worker,” says MSW grad Caroline Lutfy. “I remember saying that to my dad when I was about 13 and he asked if I even knew what it meant. I just knew that I wanted to make a difference.”

Lutfy, with fellow MSW grads Kate Joseph, Melanie Le Blanc and Kasia Pytlik, just received the 2012 university-wide Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award for the contribution they have made during their time at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

“All four of us participated in clubs, committees and organizations because we wanted to have an impact during our time here, both in the Faculty itself and in the lives of other students,” says Kate Joseph.

“What we got back in return was enormous,” says Joseph. “We had the chance to meet and engage with staff and faculty members in a very different manner by working together on committees, to see issues from a variety of perspectives, and contribute to the development of the program itself.”

“A big part of academic learning is what you learn outside the classroom,” says Lutfy. These four hard-working and committed grads took full advantage of the breadth of opportunities offered at the Faculty. Opportunities like working on the Buddy Program Advisory Committee – a groundbreaking new program developed here at the Faculty that links 2nd year students as mentors to 1st year students.

Some of them worked on the MSW Studies Committee where they had the chance to work closely with staff, faculty members, community representatives and other students and gain an understanding of how the curriculum is developed. They made a difference in the lives of other MSW students by organizing events for 1st year students. They also did community outreach, worked as volunteers and mentors, and collaborated interprofessionally with students from other U of T health science programs by participating in the student-run IMAGINE clinic.

What’s Going On

MEET THE PERSON BEHIND THAT FRIENDLY VOICE ON THE PHONE

Three of our newest staff members started within the last year – Eilis McConville is the Executive Assistant to the Dean, Denise Russell is the Administrative Assistant in the Practicum Office and Denise Ing is Continuing Education’s Registration & Communications Administrator & Liaison.

Eilis (pronounced EH-lish) McConville, who arrived in Toronto from Belfast, Ireland in May 2011, graduated with an LLB from Queen’s University of Belfast and then worked for five years as a business consultancy associate. “Coming from the private sector, this is the first time I’ve worked in a university,” she says, “and I’m really enjoying the opportunity to work at the Faculty and live in such a culturally diverse city.”

Denise Russell is the first person field instructors and students encounter when they call the Practicum Office. “Her role,” says Assistant Dean of Field Education Eileen McKee, “is absolutely critical. Not only is she the first contact, she also maintains the database, which is absolutely essential. She’s the one who works out the glitches and anticipates challenges.” Denise worked previously at OISE and has a Masters in Higher Education from OISE’s Department of Theory & Policy Studies. “I love working in the Practicum office,” she says. “It’s wonderful to work so closely with students.”

When Denise Ing isn’t at Continuing Education making sure that the courses are running smoothly, she is immersed in the world of art. “I create installations and experiences that can’t be bought,” says Denise, who has participated in Nuit Blanche and the Gladstone Hotel’s “Come Up To My Room.” An alumna of U of T and Sheridan College, she worked at U of T’s Chemistry department. Her current project at this year’s “Art of the Danforth” festival has cyclists leaving their mark on the Danforth until June 10th.

“It’s so much about taking advantage of the incredible opportunities when they are available and jumping in. It’s about doing whatever needs to be done,” says Joseph. “I learned skills that I will be able to use later on in my career. Having the chance to develop these skills with friends, like my fellow students, as well as faculty members, added so much to my overall  MSW experience.”

The Gordon Cressy Leadership Awards were established by the University’s Alumni Association to honour Gordon Cressy, a Faculty alumnus and former U of T vice-president with a distinguished 45-year record of public service.

NETWORKING THE NIGHT AWAY

Alumni mentors were there to help MSW students learn one of the most important skills of all – networking – at an Alumni Mentoring event at the Faculty. The lively networking event on January 24th was organized by Terry Gardiner (Outreach and Student Development/Equity Officer).

The idea was compelling and it worked wonderfully: the goal of the Networking Race themed evening was to collect business cards and have as many conversations as possible. MSW students moved round the room, introducing themselves to as many Alumni as they could. Students talked a little about themselves, engaged in conversation, handed out and received business cards and made the kind of contacts that will serve them well in their future careers.

And, most important of all, the students had a chance to begin building and expanding their own networks while brushing up their skills in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere. Both students and alumni were enthusiastic in their praise of the successful evening.

Mentoring is a great investment in the future of social work.

LYNN FACTOR HONOURED FOR HER CONTRIBUTION TO CANADA

Just heard the great news — Lynn Factor is receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her achievements and her significant contributions to Canada. This new commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne. It is designed to recognize exemplary Canadians who have dedicated themselves to the service of their country.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PAYING ATTENTION

“Our students are working in their own fields of health, wellness, education or business,” says Michele Chaban, Director of Continuing Ed’s Interprofessional Certificate in Applied Mindfulness Meditation: Psychotherapy or Education.

The interprofessional program, which has three streams (health and wellness, education and the mind at work), is experiencing booming attendance. In response to burgeoning demand, workshops are now being offered twice a year instead of once every two years.

“Social work,” says Chaban, “is the cradle for the program but we’re certainly not offering this just to social workers. We said from the beginning that we wanted to create a community of health and wellness.”

AN OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR

Professor Ramona Alaggia is the Factor-Inwentash Chair in Children’s Mental Health and the Coordinator of the Children and their Families specialization at the Faculty in which she teaches child and family policy and family intervention models. She has been instrumental in developing MSW course content using interactive materials, art-based projects and leading edge technologies. She is the co-editor of Cruel but not Unusual: Violence in Canadian Families (2nd edition forthcoming), which is used as a core text on family violence in courses across Canada.

MAKING THE STUDENT VOICE COUNT

2nd year PhD student Shira Hadas Moalem, who is serving a two year term as the Student Director on the OASW, believes that it is critical to voice the particular needs of students. “Students provide a vital role,” says Moalem. “They bring a zest and invigorating energy, as well as a fresh perspective to the profession.” Moalem hopes to ramp up student communication and engagement through newsletters, e-mails, bulletins and social networking.

Moalem believes that the OASW plays an important advocacy role for social workers. “Of course,” she says, “I represent not just students but also the interests of the profession and organization as a whole. The OASW is crucial to social workers. We’re not a regulatory body; we do a lot of advocacy work. We believe that social workers provide an essential service within the spectrum of health providers and we want to ensure that they are still deemed necessary in emerging legislation.”

PHD STUDENT HONOURED FOR HIS IMPACT

PhD student and school social worker Steven Solomon was honoured at the May 10th 2012 Toronto District School Board Excellence Awards. Solomon was commended for the profound impact he has had on a variety of schools across Toronto as a constant and reliable adviser on Gay-Straight Alliances and the Human Sexuality Program he developed.

GREEN DOT PROGRAM TAKES AIM AT CAMPUS VIOLENCE

The university-wide Green Dot Program uses a bystander education strategy to train individual members of the university community in techniques to reduce personal violence and intervene when someone is in danger. The program, which was adapted from an American program, was developed for U of T by Cheryl Champagne, the university’s Assault Counsellor-Educator with Counselling and Psychological Services.

A Green Dot is any action which reduces the threat of violence. The program, which instructs students in the fundamentals of good citizenship, provides training so students can learn how to recognize risky situations and employ intervention strategies. “The program trains bystanders,” says Faculty representative professor Ramona Alaggia who helps to recruit students to the recently launched program. “We know that bystanders can be the most effective in preventing an assault. Green Dot uses a group approach, emphasizing the idea that we’re all part of a larger social movement on campus.”

“Gender violence is something that affects everyone,” says MSW student Tim Sond who received the Green Dot training and has worked to promote the program across campus. “This program is about creating a stronger community in which people are looking out for one another and standing up for what’s right.” Find out more about Green Dot at www.greendot.utoronto.ca.

What’s New in Practicum

GIVING BACK TO FIELD INSTRUCTORS

“Field instructors make an absolutely irreplaceable contribution to the education of MSW students,” says Eileen McKee, assistant dean of Field Education. “What better way to honour that contribution than by giving them a chance to hear some of the most recent research being developed here at the Faculty?”

At the April 27th event in Hart House’s Music Room organized by the Practicum office, dean Faye Mishna discussed the increasing impact of cyber technology on social workers’ daily practice and professor Marion Bogo provided insights into her groundbreaking research using the OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations) Adapted for Social Work to assess student competence in social work.

“We mined the practice wisdom and field knowledge of field instructors,” says professor Marion Bogo, “and now we are returning what we’ve learned to them so they can use it with students.”

For Tammy Muskat, the Professional Practice Leader at North York General Hospital, hearing this kind of cutting edge research was immensely valuable because it was so relevant. “The research fit entirely with the work we do as field instructors – it was timely and totally appropriate.”

“But most of all,” says Muskat, “the presentations really got me thinking. I was comforted by Faye Mishna’s presentation when she said, ‘This piece of research evolved from a problem in my practice.’ That helped me to look a little differently at the problems I encounter in my own practice.”

Recent Events

SPRING CONVOCATION

Spring convocation ceremonies for MSW students took place on Wednesday, June 6th at 10 am. A moving highlight of the Convocation Hall ceremony was the bestowal of Honorary Degrees on Lynn Factor and Sheldon Inwentash. A post-event celebratory lunch for graduates, friends and family at Knox College was co-sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Faculty.

 

RBC CONFERENCE A RESOUNDING SUCCESS

The buzz kept getting stronger as an overflow crowd at this year’s annual RBC Conference spent the day engrossed in thought-provoking lectures and discussions on critical issues related to the situation of homecare workers in Canada, in light of our aging population. More.

NEW ALUMNI SERIES HIGHLIGHTS DOCTORAL RESEARCH

Alumni got a chance to hear PhD students present their latest findings at a well-attended presentation at the Faculty on March 19th. Rory Crath discussed research on priority neighbourhoods and Sajedeh Zahraei explored the impact of the war on terror on Arab Iraqi women. Watch out for more research presentations this coming fall and spring 2013. The Alumni Association plans to make this series an annual event.

CAREER OPTION: SOCIAL WORK

Amanda Gibson, who is in the collaborative program MSW/Masters of Health Science in Health Administration, organized the social work presentation for high school students  attending March 24th’s Morning Report at U of T.

Morning Report is part of U of T’s Summer Mentorship program. Each summer, the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work participates in the Summer Mentorship program, by offering selected students a chance to learn more about the possibilities of a career in social work. The program (which is sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine) emphasizes hands-on learning and mentorship while exposing students to U of T’s health science programs including dentistry, pharmacy, kinesiology and physical education.

“The goal of my presentation,” says Gibson, “was to provide the students with a chance to see how they might fit into social work. I gave them a broad overview of the profession and talked about a few key points of interest. I let them see some of the skills that social workers employ, for example, the skills we use in interviewing and what active listening means. I tried to emphasize that these skills could be used wherever they go in their careers. Mostly, it was a unique opportunity to introduce a very diverse group of students to social work and the other health professions.”

In Memoriam

As a social worker, Doris Guyatt (PhD) exemplified the highest achievements of her profession. A YWCA woman of distinction and Arbor Award recipient, Doris was an aide to 7 Lieutenant Governors of Ontario. Her work as a policy analyst and champion on behalf of women and children was groundbreaking.

“Under her leadership, the Alumni Association flourished,” says Alumni President Doreen Winkler. “She was the kind of person we all looked up to and she was a true mentor to me. Whenever some issue came up, not only would she know who to talk to and what to do, she’d know how to deal with it in the most diplomatic and perfect way. We will all miss her very much.”