This article was originally published in UKNow.
In a world continually dealing with social injustices and inequality, communities need continued support.
Social workers provide critically important services aimed at improving safety and well-being. The hope is, that behind every person going through a difficult challenge — whether it’s abuse, addiction, disability, discrimination or poverty — there’s a social worker waiting to help address it.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest have underscored the demand for skilled practitioners who can adapt in a variety of settings.
Confronting these challenges starts with world-class instruction and educational experiences. In an effort to meet the moment, a new concentration in the Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) program will prepare social work students to become educators.
“The importance of ensuring that social work educators have the requisite, knowledge and skills to educate future practitioners cannot be overstated,” Jay Miller, dean of the UK College of Social Work, said. “The new education concentration is truly something.”
The first of its kind in the state, the program successfully prepares students for advanced social work practice, clinical research, administrative leadership and executive roles. Initially, the DSW program provided social work practitioners the opportunity to build upon their skills by receiving specialized training in one of three areas: administrative leadership, advanced clinical practice or military behavioral health (MBH).
Now, in addition to those, students will be able to choose teaching as a specialized area of study.
The new concentration will build upon the existing DSW program by preparing students to engage in social work education as leaders and scholars. The innovative curriculum will address the dynamic and political nature of social work education by focusing on diversity, expansion and systemic oppression, among other areas.
“For more than a year, we have engaged with scholars all over the country to conceptualize a concentration designed to meet the contemporary challenges facing social work educators and practitioners,” Natalie Pope, director of doctoral programs in the CoSW, said. “This concentration offers students a unique pathway to becoming a doctoral-level social work educator.”
Educators and social workers are often linked, because they’re influential in their work to bring about positive change. Ultimately, graduates of the program will be positioned to advance their careers, become transformational leaders and join the greater conversation about creating a stronger society.
“To be clear, teaching is a form of social work practice,” Miller explained. “As such, we want to make certain that our graduates are prepared to engage in that practice in a competent, collaborative and creative way.”
In a continued effort to make UK programs accessible and attainable, the DSW is fully online and can be completed in two years (full time). There are also part-time options available.