Vol 7(1): Autumn 2016
WE’RE SO PROUD
IT’S A BANNER YEAR WITH FIVE TOP AWARDS
AT THE 2016 COUNCIL ON SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION CONFERENCE
CSWE is a nonprofit, US-based organization that is dedicated to promoting excellence in social work education. The Distinguished Recent Contribution to Social Work Education Award recognizes a social work educator’s achievements within the last ten years.
In granting the award to Dean Mishna, the committee noted: “Professor Mishna is internationally renowned for her cutting-edge research and scholarship on bullying, cyber bullying and cyber counselling. Her work has had a profound impact on the lives of children, adolescents, families, educators and all who confront cyber bullying.”
CSOGIE promotes affirmative social work education, the development of social work curriculum materials and faculty growth opportunities relevant to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. As Co-Chair, Craig developed Guidelines for LGB and Trans and Gender Nonconforming Affirmative Social Work Education; she conducted a national study of LGBTQ social work students and co-authored CSWE’s statement on conversion therapy. Craig’s research focuses on developing resilience-focused and strength-based interventions for sexual and gender minority youth.
The committee noted that it was impressed by Brien’s commitment to various leadership activities, such as helping to develop the Extended Conversations student group and working as a peer mentor.
Lee’s dissertation examined child welfare outcomes for Asian-Canadian children and families. The award offers Lee an opportunity to share what the committee called “her transformative research” with the broader child welfare community via a presentation at the 2016 CSWE conference and publication in a 2017 edition of Families in Society.
The well-respected Heart of Social Work Award is presented annually to a North American field instructor who has demonstrated excellence in field instruction, service to the University, and creativity and innovation in field education. Watch for a profile of McDonald in REACH 2017 and find out more about her exciting work.
WHAT’S GOING ON
Part information and part inspiration, the Introduction to Social Work Conference 2016 gave new MSW students a powerful sense of just how multi-dimensional social work is. Designed to introduce a spectrum of social work approaches, the September 8-9 conference did exactly that for Year I MSW students Michael Adia and Rafiya Asad.
Both Adia and Asad were particularly impressed by the talk on working with the elderly by alumna Reshma Dhrodia, the Faculty’s Student Life, Outreach & Equity Advisor. Dhrodia’s look at ageist stereotypes prompted them to view members of their own families differently and opened them up to an area they’d never considered before.
Presentations covered a wide range of timely issues, from PhD candidate Lauren McInroy’s discussion of “Social Work & Social Media” to Dr. Michael Dan on the “Root Causes of the Indigenous-Settler Health Gap in Canada.”
The keynote address was given by Jane Middelton-Moz, Executive Director of the Middelton-Moz Institute and a professor in our new MSW specialization, Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency (ITR). The ITR was developed by our Faculty, the Middelton-Moz Institute and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.
Middelton-Moz gave a moving account of the interventions she has conducted for over forty years in communities suffering from multi-generational trauma. She told the crowd of future social workers: “I see before me the faces of those who will help children.”
The goal of trauma-informed education, she said, is to educate clinicians who can promote and ensure a safe and healing environment. “Resilient children had one or more people who were just crazy about them, attuned to them, listened to them and believed they could do anything they set their hearts and minds to. For many, you will be that person – the one person who makes a difference in people’s lives.”
There were many powerful moments when students in our new MSW specialization gathered together to launch the ITR at Toronto’s Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). The ITR was developed by the Faculty, the Middelton-Moz Institute and the OFIFC.
It was a day of hope and pride, a day that honoured Indigenous values, rituals and ceremonies and the importance of putting them into practice. Everyone sat together in a giant circle, joined together by strong emotions and shared commitment.
One of the most meaningful moments came when each person stood up and talked a little about why they were there. Some students said how excited — and nervous — they were. Others said that they’d been dreaming about and looking for a program like this for many years.
For the students – who had arrived from across North America and were due to start their first six-day intensive of classes the next day at the Faculty – it was a chance to meet not only each other but also FIFSW and OFIFC faculty and staff. This was the students’ first course in their 2-year MSW.
Fang was chosen to receive the award because of her strong commitment to social work education, her thoughtful student mentoring, educational leadership and excellent student evaluations. Her goal is to prepare students to become reflective and effective social workers by informing, stimulating and challenging them. She is passionate about everything she teaches and strives to be as interactive as possible.
“To bring clarity and vitality to concepts introduced in class, I organize theoretical and empirical knowledge in a structured manner, and connect students with a variety of teaching techniques and media. I fill my lectures with simulations and real-world case scenarios to illustrate core concepts and increase the likelihood that students will apply the new skills and strategies to their practice,” she says.
Fang says she constantly reflects on her teaching style, abilities and pedagogical practices and makes adjustments. “After all,” she says, “while I always encourage students to be lifelong learners, I also strongly believe that teaching is lifelong learning.”
“Is social work scientific? For the last few years I’ve been part of a working group – a kind of think tank – that’s been meeting to explore this,” Anastas said, highlighting a discussion that she believes is vital for the profession.
“Social work doesn’t use science to define itself. It has embraced and aspired to research rather than science. Social work values and ethics may be well known and yet its knowledge is much less well known,” she said, citing concepts such as “the sandwich generation” and “the feminization of poverty” as social work ideas that have entered the mainstream.
Anastas, who wrote a 2013 article as president of the US-based National Association of Social Workers inviting practitioners to help shape a science of social work, told the audience: “We need to change the discourse and get science into how we define ourselves.”
Anastas believes that it is important to emphasize the commonality between scientists and practitioners. The goal of this discussion of the science of social work is to develop sustainable solutions in which scientists and practitioners learn from and collaborate with one another in practice-informed research and research-informed practice.
At the Faculty’s newly launched Welcome Lunch, students, staff and faculty sat on the floor, on couches and at tables, or stood in groups, eating, sharing experiences and comparing notes.
For many new students, the buffet lunch was significant because it made them feel like integral members of the FIFSW community.
As one Year I MSW student said, “It’s great that you can just go up to anyone and start talking to them at this. For me, events like this and the Introduction to Social Work Conference make me feel that at this Faculty, they’re not just talking about social work, they’re living it.”
At a Faculty Club luncheon following the Convocation ceremony, students celebrated with family and friends. New grad Jessica Furtado (MSW 2016) took a moment to reflect back on her experience at the Faculty.
She described what it was like to write an MSW thesis. “For me, it was an exciting way to be more creative. Not many MSW students choose to write a thesis since it is a lot of work. But I believe that social workers should be involved in research in some capacity. To advance the field, that’s what we need to do,” she said. Furtado received a CIHR Health Professional Student Research Award, a SSRHC Canada Graduate Scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.
“My thesis explored childhood medical trauma and resilience. I had a fabulous placement at Holland Bloorview. I worked closely with Professor Ramona Alaggia, who has been an incredible mentor to me. I am the first person in my family to receive this level of education. I relied heavily on scholarship funding and because of that funding, I was able to devote the time I needed to my thesis,” said Furtado.
Schlesinger chuckles when he remembers the year he and his family spent in Mona, Jamaica, from August 1966 to July 1967, when he was a visiting professor at Jamaica’s University of West Indies School of Social Work. “It was a wonderful experience,” he says.
“Returning there is very meaningful to me. While I was there, the Vice-Chancellor of the University asked me to travel to all the English-speaking Caribbean islands to find out what social work education needs they had, so I did that and wrote a report. I also helped in developing courses and part of my job was to visit Montego Bay where students had placements, to consult with a supervisor. And I had contact with the Canadian High Commissioner and would go to functions,” he says.
“It’s also an opportunity to honour someone very important to me, my cousin, Miriam Stanton. There was an internment camp during WWII called Camp Gibraltar on the site of Jamaica’s University of West Indies. She was interned there and I’ll be participating in the first reunion remembering the Jewish refugees who lived there.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN PRACTICUM
As experienced social workers committed to the education of future professionals, field instructors play an absolutely vital role in our MSW students’ education. If you are interested in giving back and helping our students become competent social workers, please contact the Practicum Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to view the alumni interviews at “Why be a field instructor?” Their inspirational comments as they describe the benefits are hard to resist.
On October 21 at the Faculty, Dr. Karen Saakvitne, clinical psychologist and the author of several books including “Trauma and the Therapist,” provided insight into trauma therapy and the challenges for social workers related to such issues as self-awareness, self-protection and compassion fatigue.
On October 24 at the Faculty, Dr. Jim Cullen, therapist and adjunct FIFSW professor who has spent over twenty years working with First Nations communities, discussed strategies for working with the community as an ally in Indigenous services.
On November 15, Lina Gagliardi, Professional Leader for Social Work, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, explored social work’s leadership role in Advance Care Planning in hospitals.
Dr. Gail Steketee, Dean and Professor, Boston University School of Social Work, provided insights into understanding and treating compulsive hoarding in a November 18 talk at the Faculty.
Lisa Cirillo, Executive Director, Downtown Legal Services, described her experience facilitating accessible justice for clients at U of T’s Legal Aid Clinic and the essential role played by social workers at legal aid clinics on November 21 at the Faculty.
Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine, founding co-director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, award-winning educator and bestselling writer, explored the power of the mind to integrate the brain and promote health and resiliency in a November 22 webinar at the Faculty.
January 17, 2017
2017 Alumni Distinguished Speaker
“Truth, Reconciliation and Canada’s 150th Birthday: Cause for Celebration?”
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Innis College Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Talk followed by reception