CSWE Statement on Social Justice
Darla Spence Coffey, PhD, MSW, president and CEO of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and Saundra Starks, EdD, MSW, chair of the CSWE Board of Directors, released the following statement regarding issues of social justice that have been brought to the national forefront.
“CSWE wishes to express its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family, friends, and communities of George Floyd. His murder, in combination with that of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many other African Americans over the last few years, serves as a stark reminder of the enduring racism in this country and its deadly effects.
“It is also significant that Floyd’s murder occurred during this unprecedented time of a global pandemic that disproportionally affects communities of color. African Americans and other people of color continue to suffer under a system that not only is unresponsive to their needs but also continues to devalue their humanity.
“Social workers are called to address racism and all forms of social injustice. The education provided by more than 800 accredited programs is meant to prepare students to act on this ethical principle. Therefore, we must take this moment to honestly examine how social work curriculums go beyond teaching an appreciation for physical or cultural diversity and empower the next generation of social work practitioners to dismantle institutional racism.
“The CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) require that social work programs prepare students to understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize the extent to which our culture’s structures and values oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power. Educational standards also require students to understand the global interconnections of oppression and strategies to eliminate structural barriers to ensure that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably.
“The social work education standards are updated every seven years, and work has already begun on updating standards for 2022. We are calling on CSWE’s members, educators, social workers, and others to help us provide EPAS, resources, and guidance that support our profession’s ideals. Let us work together and continue to ensure that the 47,000 graduates of social work programs each year are a mighty force for good—one ready to identify and address threats to social justice.”