The Macro Social Work Student Network (MSWSN) is hitting the road this month. MSWSN member and Silberman School of Social Work Student Andrew Calderaro will be visiting six universities this month to discuss macro social work and bringing MSWSN chapters to more campuses.
This past June MSWSN held a very successful conference on the state of macro social work, Macro in a Micro World! What the 2012 Rothman Report Means for Social Change Hopefulness . 80 community practice social workers and students from around the country participated in the event. Since then MSWSN has been hard at work advocating for macro social work on college campuses. The School Organizing Program will help them continue and grow their efforts in this area.
The School Organizing Program is a special and unique brand of organizing. It is special because social work students do it on their very campuses; it is unique because many of us are quickly in-and-out of our programs, so we have to organize within a specific scope of assets and timeframe.
The Program’s mission is to engage social work students to use and improve their organizing skills to enhance awareness about the necessity of macro social work, effect change in school curricula, and leave their macro social work programs in a better place than when they entered them. (Source)
On November 2nd the Association of Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA) awarded MSWSN the Student Recognition award at the 2013 CSWE/APM. They were nominated by Dr. Terry Mizrahi. Julie Birkenmaier, chair of ACOSA’s awards committee, stated in a letter to MSWSN that:
The selection committee was highly impressed with the many accomplishments of this student group, including the creation of a network of students, a conference, and the foundation of campus chapters of the MSWSN. We are pleased to recognize your efforts to elevate macro social work practice within social work education, and to influence the career choices of future social workers to make an impact on our neighborhoods and communities.
You can learn more about MSWSN by visiting their new website MSWSN.org.
Addressing White Supremacy in Social Work Institutions and Curriculum
“We must summon the courage to have productive conversations about racism in our field. White workers especially need to reflect on the defensiveness we feel when we are confronted with white supremacy culture, and how we benefit from the existence of it in our institutions and our interpersonal conversations. We must create a discipline around self-reflection, increase our stamina for holding discomfort, and continually ask ourselves where we are centering our engagement – is it on the needs of the oppressed or the comfort of those who fear change?” – SWCAREs
In an effort to help facilitate anti-racist, solution focused, and strength based conversation, SWCAREs will be hosting a twitter to chat to discuss white supremacy in social work curriculum. As our guest, we have invited Dr. Elizabeth Beck share her work on the topic. In order to get to know Dr. Beck before our March 5th twitter chat, we asked her to talk a little bit about her article publication and offer a few thoughts related to white supremacy in social work academia in our recent Q&A.
Dr. Elizabeth Beck is a Professor at Georgia State University in the School of Social Work at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. She is a prolific writer, having authored 26 peer-reviewed articles, one law review article, a number of book chapters, and three books. From 2006-2010, she was principal investigator to the Georgia Council to Restorative Justice, and is currently involved in community-based initiatives exploring restorative justice. In addition to her work at Georgia State University, Dr. Beck teaches at Phillips State Prison as a participant in the Common Good Atlanta program.
In her 2019 article in the Journal of Women and Social Work, “Naming White Supremacy in Social Work Curriculum,” Dr. Beck explores postcolonial theory, race, and ethnicity in the context of social work education and practice. She calls on our field to hold ourselves accountable to challenging the destructive qualities of whiteness, and how they show up historically and currently in the field.
Here is our Q&A as follows:
SWCARES: In your article, you call on yourself to challenge the direction of your white gaze and look hard at the hegemonic and destructive qualities of whiteness. Can you say more about that?
Elizabeth Beck: I have remained haunted and deeply motivated by something I read by Philosopher George Yancy in a piece that he wrote that was addressed to white people.
“As you reap comfort from being white, we suffer for being black and people of color. But your comfort is linked to our pain and suffering.” As a human being and a social worker, I have never wanted to cause pain and suffering, and yet Yancy reminds me that I do so daily.
Therefore, it is not enough to own my privilege or to identify as an antiracist who speaks truth to power, I also need to figure out daily how to mitigate my own role in causing pain and suffering. Of course, I don’t come close to having all the answers and indeed I think there needs to be conversations about how we can do this.
But the two things that I try to do are to engage in truthtelling, which means being clear about racial terrorism, the new Jim Crow, the harm of colorblind remedies, and the fact that our nation is based on and in white supremacy.
Secondly, I try to get out of the way. For example, I must work as an antiracist and work hard, but know that the answers and strategies cannot come from me. They must come from those people most affected. I need to support people of color who are doing the work– and that support can take many forms from working alongside individuals and within coalitions or providing a hot meal when a rest is needed. I also work to share or pass on opportunities that are offered to me in part because of the privilege that I have receive as a white person, and I must hold myself accountable.
SWCARES: Can you speak about the need for whiteness and white logic to exist in social work curriculum, and the impact of their absence currently?
Elizabeth Beck: The academy and the professionalized nature of social work are sites of whiteness and privilege. The knowledge that comes out of the academy is largely going to reflect that, while a paucity of literature will critique and confront it. In social work we have to look hard to find those critiques, and there are a number of treasured pieces out there. Social Work is also in an unique position within the white academy, as we want to be seen as a discipline that has scientific rigor, that oversees credentialing, and that is not marginalized within the academy or scientific community. Rather than finding our own unique positionality in which affected people are expert, we emulate positivism and gatekeeping, both of which align us with whiteness and white logics.
But, we also need to look more critically at the foundational aspects of social work and social work education. For example, we tend to acknowledge the whiteness of the Settlement House Movement, and yet we often hold it up as milestone in the profession’s move toward social justice. This of course then holds implications for the impact of whiteness in the way in which social works constructs and understands social justice. I believe that we need to evolve our understanding of social justice and we must highlight Black and Brown women, men, transgender and non-binary people who changed the world, such as Ida B. Wells, A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and many more.
In addition to Kimberle Crenshaw, we need to know the other women who helped to theorize intersectionality, such as Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and members of the Combahee River Collective. With these voices not prominent in the curriculum it is not surprising that scholar Gita Mehrotra notes that in social work, intersectionality is associated with multiculturalism, when indeed intersectionality, which is largely theorized by queer women of color, is also political movement driven from an intersectional analysis of power. An analysis in which those individuals whose lives are “on the margins”/most affected hold the necessary analytical information for transformative solutions.
An additional marker of whiteness for me has been in the language of things like “cultural competency,” (a dreadful idea, that states that I am the norm and you are other thus I need to be competent in you, thereby further enshrining whiteness) or the reliance on acceptable and non-political words like diversity. While we know that diversity is an important goal, journalist Pamela Newkirk, in her book Diversity Inc.: The failed promise of a billion dollar industry, makes clear that without truth telling about systemic racism, ideas that sound accommodating like diversity do not accomplish the goals that they seek.
SWCARE: How do you see this work translating into the classroom? Where does an analysis of theprocesses of domination belong in our instruction and what would it look like?
Elizabeth Beck: As a white social work educator, the first thing I need to do is model antiracism, truth telling, the ability to defer to people of color, and not engage in any sort of fragility. It’s difficult to say where an analysis of processes of domination belongs in instruction, as the ideal would be infusion throughout the curriculum, but then infusion can lead to it being overlooked.
Toward infusing ideas associated with processes of domination and systemic racism, our faculty has tried to do things a bit differently, as we work together to find the space for things like critical theory in our program. With some discussion of critical theory we hope to provide students with the ability to deconstruct knowledge rather than just accept the knowledge derived from white methods and logics. We also hope to offer opportunities for critical consciousness. All of our MSW students read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I fully agree with Paulo Freire that once you see the truth you are compelled to change things. Certainly, that is what George Yancy did for me.
SWCARES: What does this work look like in the institutions of academia? How does this translate to admissions offices, field placements, and faculty meetings?
Elizabeth Beck: I am not an administrator nor do I coordinate or even oversee field placements, in that way I am not the expert. I am additionally different because our MSW program is a macro based program which means that we tend to attract students who want to be on the cutting edge of social justice work, and that this desire often comes from their understanding of inequality. With that said I do have some thoughts. I think one important aspect of social work admissions is that it places emphasis on people’s histories, stories and experiences. My university is a leading institution in the graduation of minority and first generation college students.
We have a wonderful program that provides emergency grants for students in a financial crisis. This program can be emulated. We must also work hard to ensure supports for first generation college students and those on the academic margins. Mostly we must advocate for policies that make higher education far more accessible to include much more public financing. We must ensure that faculty meetings and committee assignments are equitable and that we have fairness in salaries. I have always been proud that our faculty protects the time of assistant professors. I also believe that faculty meetings can be places where we explore the use of language like white supremacy and challenge ideas of white fragility.
Join @SWHELPERorg and @SWCARES on March 5th at 1:00 PM EST using the hashtag #SWCARESchat to discuss white supremacy in social work curriculum.
Simmons University Professor Gary Bailey Elevated to Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and Social Justice
Simmons University School of Social Work Professor of Practice Gary Bailey, DHL, MSW, ACSW, has been promoted to Assistant Dean for Community Engagement and Social Justice in the College of Social Science, Public Policy, and Practice. He started his new role on July 1, 2019.
Bailey has taught in the Simmons School of Social Work since 1999 and has immersed himself in the on- and off-campus community ever since. Among his many on-campus activities, Bailey directs the Urban Leadership Certificate in Clinical Social Work and coordinated the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression sequence.
He chaired the Simmons University Black Administrators, Faculty, and Staff Council and the School of Social Work Awards Committee; was a member of the Simmons Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council; co-chaired the Simmons College Initiative on Human Rights and Social Justice; and was a member of the Simmons Faculty Senate.
In 2018, Bailey was named to the GK100 list of Greater Boston’s Most Influential People of Color. In 2017, he was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to the Massachusetts LGBT-Q Youth Commission, and in 2009 he was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to the board of the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). He was reappointed in 2013 for a term ending in 2019. At MEFA, he chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee.
In 2010, Bailey was elected President of the International Federation of Social Workers, representing more than 90 countries and 746,000 social workers globally, becoming the first person of color to hold this post.
Bailey was named Social Worker of the Year by both the national and Massachusetts National Association of Social Workers (NASW) in 1998. He was named an NASW Social Work Pioneer in 2005, the youngest person to have received the distinction, and served as NASW’s national president from 2003-2005.
“Gary’s extensive experience in the community reflects his unquestioned leadership in the area of race and justice,” said Dean of the College of Social Science, Public Policy, and Practice Stephanie Berzin. “Through his work and his intellect, he consistently engages students, faculty, and community members towards collaboration to solve today’s most challenging problems. He is uniquely qualified for this key role in furthering the mission of Simmons.”
About Simmons University
Located in Boston, one of America’s most dynamic cities, Simmons University (www.simmons.edu) is a nationally recognized private university that draws on many of the region’s cultural, historical, economic, scientific, and educational resources to offer an unparalleled student experience. Founded in 1899, Simmons has a cherished history of visionary thinking and social responsibility, and a strong mission for over a century: to provide transformative learning that links passion with lifelong purpose. Simmons offers undergraduate programs for women in education in the arts, sciences, and several professional fields; and graduate programs online and campus-based open to all at the master’s and doctoral levels.
The Difference Between Micro, Macro and Mezzo Social Work
Sponsored by Aurora University
The social work profession is multifaceted, and the good news is these skilled practitioners are in high demand across all areas of practice. For instance, medical social workers have a projected growth rate of 20 percent by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is about three times the average rate of all occupations and the highest for any social work specialty.
Another way to look at the profession is to consider it from the three divisions or types of social work: micro, macro, and mezzo social work. These terms help categorize virtually any type of social work that these human services workers perform.
Types of Social Work
The following sections explore micro, macro, and mezzo social work. Information on the work these types of social work cover and what education is needed to enter these areas is considered.
Micro Social Work
Micro social work is one-on-one counseling with clients. These social workers help individuals with social, emotional, or health-related struggles. This work could include helping a person who is homeless find a place to live or helping a veteran transition to civilian life.
Jobs that are considered micro social work include:
- City social services caseworker
- Crime victim advocate
- Family therapist
- School counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
Most jobs that involve micro social work require education at the master’s level because those jobs are considered clinical work.
Macro Social Work
Macro social work involves working with whole communities. These communities can be defined by geopolitical boundaries, but often, they are not. They can be neighborhoods, religious communities, or political- or cause-driven groups. The macro social worker may make or shape policy, lobby for social change, or train others to do so.
Jobs that are considered macro social work include:
- Community organizer
- Professor of social policy
- Program developer
There are jobs in macro social work that can be acquired with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, but others, like a professor or most lobbyist positions, require education beyond the bachelor’s level.
Mezzo Social Work
Mezzo social work involves working with a group of people. Sometimes this group is as small and intimate as employees who need conflict resolution and mediation services. Sometimes it is a group of strangers in a support group who share a life experience, like a recent death, problem, or addiction.
Jobs that are considered mezzo social work include:
- Business social worker
- Community service manager
- Group therapist
- Parenthood educator
- Support group counselor
As with macro social work, whether you can obtain a job with a BSW depends on the employer and the population with which you work. Some therapist positions, for example, are clinical positions and require a license, which necessitates a master’s degree and experience in the field. Other positions, such as a community service manager, typically require a BSW.
Interconnectedness in the Types of Social Work
It’s important to understand how social workers can provide assistance across all three types of social work. Here’s a simple example to demonstrate this idea.
A medical social worker who works specifically with babies receiving neonatal care begins meeting with a new mother. After her baby experiences some complications, the mother is stressed and begins receiving therapeutic sessions with the social worker. Because this takes place in a one-on-one environment, that type of assistance would refer to micro social work. The social worker is providing individualized help, as well as therapy.
The scope of practice would extend to mezzo social work if the professional begins assisting the family. For instance, perhaps the father could be struggling with parenthood and supporting his wife. Another scenario may be that another child in the family is having difficulties adjusting to a lot of time in the hospital. In either of these cases, the social worker may meet with the entire family and provide help, such as short therapy sessions or information on services that will help the family adjust. The family is often the smallest unit for mezzo social work.
Although it may not be as common in a situation like this, macro social work could be relevant. An example would be if the social worker helps advocate in the community or the state in some way. Perhaps the baby’s medical issues are quite rare, and support is lacking for families. Or, perhaps the family is struggling to help the other child at school, and the social worker can work with the district on supporting children in these types of situations. There are several ways in which the social worker may reach out to the community or beyond for helping clients. If change needs to happen on a greater scale, then the professional will engage in macro social work.
The example shows the interconnectedness of the different forms of social work. In this process, the medical social worker performs micro (the mother), mezzo (the family), and macro (the community/state) social work.
The Future of the Social Work Profession
There is an expected job growth of 16 percent by 2026 for the social work field, according to the BLS. An aging U.S. population and the booming health care industry are two of the factors that are likely to contribute to the growth. Like most job fields, this percentage varies by specialty. Employment of child, family, and school social workers, for example, is projected to increase 14 percent by 2026, and employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow 19 percent. Both are growing faster than the average for all occupations, which is only 7 percent.
People with a BSW are especially qualified for positions in mezzo or macro social work. With courses like Social Work with Groups and Social Work with Communities and Organizations, the online BSW program from Aurora University Online can provide you with concrete skills that will help you support the community with which you want to work. Graduates with a BSW degree are eligible to take the examination for the State Social Work license.
Clinical social workers must have an MSW and two years of post-master’s experience in the field. AU Online offers Chicagoland’s only CSWE-accredited online MSW graduate program, which includes four optional specializations: Faith-Based Social Work, Forensics, Health Care, and Leadership Administration. You may also pursue the dual MSW/MBA or MSW/MPA degree program.
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