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GSS Helps Organize National Teach-In on Police Brutality and Systemic Racism


Amidst the cacophony of noise and opinion on Twitter, a group of social work academics regularly chat under the hashtag #SWTech to discuss technology in social work. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, their conversation shifted to police brutality. A professor in the group challenged the others to address the issue in their classrooms.

“[He] asked, well, ‘What are you doing about this? We need to be responding to this in the field,’” recalled Lauri Goldkind, Ph.D., an associate professor at Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) and frequent contributor to the tech dialogue.

By late June, Goldkind had formed a steering committee with professors from the University of Southern California, Columbia University, Salem State University, and the University of Buffalo. The committee decided to hold a teach-in, which will take place from Oct. 26 through Oct. 30 at social work schools across the country. Using the hashtag #SWEduActs, the group promoted the event on social media and asked social work educators to commit to teaching a class on police brutality during the teach-in week. Goldkind and Elspeth Slayter, Ph.D., social work professor at Salem State, offered prep sessions and resources to the professors in advance on Twitter.

“We’re an education-focused group, so we decided that we should have the difficult classroom conversations, no matter whether they’re teaching a research stats class or clinical coursework,” said Goldkind.

In addition to holding their own classroom conversations, participants can also tune in to Zoom on Tues., Oct. 27 at 7 p.m., when GSS will host “#SWEduActs National Social Work Teach-In.” There, participants will watch a TED talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw on intersectionality, followed by a panel discussion on police brutality with experts including Sharon Moore, Ph.D., professor at the University of Louisville; Tina Sacks, Ph.D., assistant professor at UC Berkeley; and Mel Wilson, who sits on the board of directors at the National Association of Social Workers. Desmond Upton Patton, Ph.D., associate professor at Columbia, who initially challenged his #SWtech colleagues to “do something,” will moderate.

The Oct. 27 Zoom event is geared toward social work professors and their students, but all are welcome to join.


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