The latest episode of the inSocialWork podcast series, produced by the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, features BUSSW clinical associate professor Dr. Ashley Davis and co-researcher Dr. Rebecca G. Mirick (SSW’02), an assistant professor at Salem State University, sharing unexpected findings from their nationwide study of students’ experiences of microaggressions in Bachelor of Social Work programs in the United States.
The researchers, who predicted that respondents would be from traditionally marginalized populations, were surprised when they instead heard from politically and religiously conservative students who related to the experience of being marginalized or silenced in the social work classroom.
Davis describes the findings as “difficult to grapple with,” specifically in relation to the relatively small population of conservative social work students and their access to power and privilege within our larger society. Yet the findings also raise important questions about how to create learning environments that are inclusive, respectful, and affirming of diversity and difference, including across differences in political ideology and religious background.
“I always come back to teaching as a political act. We are not a value-neutral profession. We are socializing our students to advance social justice, and I think a lot about how there is no one right way to do this. We can learn a lot from each other about the different ways we can go about advocating for marginalized populations, and the different groups that we will reach when we are out in the field. So if I can keep that social justice perspective at the forefront, it makes for better teaching and better learning.”
–Ashley Davis, quoted from “Only liberal views welcome? Experience of conservative students in BSW education” (Episode 273 of the inSocialWork Podcast Series)