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  • Recent MU Graduates Brittany Scardigno and Jennifer Stolte Receive Fulbright ETA Awards to South Korea and Spain, Respectively.

    Brittany Scardigno, who received her M.A. in English in 2021 and teaches as adjunct professor in the English Department, and Jennifer Stolte, who received her B.A. in Education and Foreign Languages in 2018 and a Master’s in Education in 2022, have each been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Award for 2022-2023.

    As English Teaching Assistants (ETAs), they will inspire students studying English, facilitate mutual understanding, and promote intercultural exchanges in their host countries (South Korea and Spain) and upon their return to the United States. Scardigno will assist Korean secondary-level students practice and perfect English language skills, and Stolte will assist in a multilingual educational system that teaches Spanish, English, and the Galician native language, Galego.

    Jennifer Stolte, Fulbright Semifinalist
    Jennifer Stolte
    Brittany Scardigno, Fulbright Semifinalist
    Brittany Scardigno

    This is the first time in the history of Monmouth University that two students are granted Fulbright awards for the same cycle. Our first Fulbright Student, Victoria Cattelona, is currently completing her assignment as a 2021-2022 ETA in the Czech Republic.

    The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational and cultural exchange program. It is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected in an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

    The IGU congratulates Brittany and Jennifer on their extraordinary accomplishment!

  • World Cinema Series Returns to Pollak Theater to Conclude 2021-2022 Season with Discussion of Minari

    By Anna A. Gwiazda

    On April 26, 2022, the World Cinema Series hosted its first in-person event since early in the spring 2020 semester. Dr. Thomas Pearson, the World Cinema Series host and professor of History and Anthropology, kicked off the event with introductory remarks about the film. Directed by Lee Issac Chung, Minari has won several awards including six nominations at the 2021 Oscar awards. This event was particularly special because it was Dr. Pearson’s last time hosting a World Cinema Series event after the many years he has dedicated to this film series. He explained that Minari was the perfect movie to conclude his career in the World Cinema Series as it is heartwarming and depicts the strong bonds of a family.

    Minari is a bittersweet film that tells the story of a Korean American family that moves to a farm in Arkansas in pursuit of the “American Dream.” The movie follows a married couple, Jacob Yi and Monica Yi, who migrate from South Korea to seek a better life in America for their two American-born children, David and Anne. While Monica and Jacob have worked in the chick sexing business for years, Jacob dreams of owning a farm where he can sell Korean vegetables to make a living for his family. The Yi couple’s relationship struggles from the unstable position that Jacob’s farm passion presents for the family. Another pivotal character in the film is Monica’s mother, Soon-Ja. She uproots her life in Korea to move in with the Yi family to help care for her two grandchildren. Soon-Ja is a beloved character in this film who is known for her foul mouth and witty nature.

    Minari is unique as it is told from the perspectives of all the characters in the film, which offers the audience a window into the different characters’ realities and internal struggles. Themes of displacement, instability, assimilation, the preservation of culture, and resilience are integrated into the film. Furthermore, Minari is a beautiful cinematic work that transforms audience members to the peaceful farmlands of Arkansas.

    The event concluded with an engaging discussion led by Claude Taylor, a professor in the Department of Communication. Prof. Taylor noted that everyone can connect to one of the characters in the movie and the storyline, which made the film especially engaging. He also spoke about the symbolism of the minari plant, which is a plant native to Korea. The minari plant symbolizes that the Yi family is from Korea, but moved to America to plant their own roots in this harsh and unfamiliar country. The discussion was then opened to the audience members who shared positive feedback and insights about the film.

    This World Cinema Series in-person event was highly successful. There was a strong turnout and robust discussion, which reflected the enthusiasm for the opportunity to return to in-person engagement. The success of the event can be attributed to Dr. Pearson’s hard work and vision in planning the 2021-2022 series, as well as the dedication and leadership he has exhibited in hosting the World Cinema Series for so many years.

  • IGU-UCI Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series Panel Considers: ‘Is 30 by 30 Enough?’

    By Grace Joyce, 

    On April 6, 2022, the Institute for Global Understanding and the Urban Coast Institute co-hosted the virtual panel discussion, “International and Domestic Strategies for Ocean Conservation and Biodiversity: Is 30 by 30 Enough?” This event was the second installment of the spring ’22 Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series. UCI Director Tony MacDonald moderated the panel. The discussion consisted of three panelists who analyzed the 30 by 30 vision from international, national, and state perspectives.

    The first panelist was Sebastian Nicholls, principal associate, Pew Charitable Trusts Ocean Conservation Program, who addressed the topic on an international level. He discussed the Global Biodiversity Framework, which sets goals for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Mr. Nicholls noted that than 5% of the ocean is free from human pressures, and a large amount of scientific research along with 116 countries back the 30 by 30 marine initiative. The main focus of his presentation was the importance of High Seas Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in achieving the 30 by 30 goal. The High Seas represent two-thirds of the world’s ocean area and 95 percent of all habitable space. Only one percent is currently protected, however, and there are significant issues in treaty negotiations such as defining MPAs, the opt-out option, management measures, and the process of identifying and establishing the MPAs.

    The second panelist was Lauren Wenzel, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Protected Areas Center. She provided a national perspective on the 30 by 30 initiative and continued the conversation on MPAs by discussing the benefits they provide, including biodiversity protection, recreation, coastal protection, carbon storage, and sustainable fishing. Currently, in the U.S., 26 percent of ocean waters is designated as an MPA, 24 percent is classified as a “highly protective” MPA, and only 3 percent is designated as “no take” MPAs. To work toward achieving 30 by 30 and successfully implement MPAs, the U.S. needs to strengthen connectivity and build networks, integrate MPAs within the context of other ocean uses, adapt to climate impacts, expand stakeholder engagement, and demonstrate effectiveness.

    Lastly, Dr. Mark Gold, executive director of the California Ocean Protection Council, provided the state perspective by discussing California and its commitment to conserving 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030. Under Governor Newsom, there is strong engagement through regional and topical workshops, tribal consultations and conversations, and public meetings. The conservation framework in place looks to protect biodiversity, expand access to nature, and mitigate and build resilience to climate change. Currently, 24 percent of land and 16 percent of coastal waters in California have been conserved. Many potential pathways to achieve 30 by 30 exist in California, including mandatory speed limits for ships, fishing gear type prohibitions, water quality measures, and making conservation-based fisheries management measures permanent. To help advance these objectives, California has formed strategic alliances such as regional coalitions, tribal partnerships, and the California Biodiversity Council, and has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars in restoration and protection.

  • IGU Hosts Global Visionary Lecture and Award Ceremony Featuring Ramu Damodaran

    By Grace Joyce,    

    On March 31, 2022, the Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) hosted the Global Visionary Lecture: From War to Peace and Human Dignity: The United Nations and a Transformative Global Order. The event was co-sponsored by the Freed Endowed Chair in Social Sciences. Ramu Damodaran, this year’s recipient of the Global Visionary Award, is the former Chief of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) and has held multiple roles within the UN throughout his distinguished career.

    IGU Director Prof. Randall Abate began by providing some background information on the IGU and its work, specifically its ongoing efforts to promote strong relations with the UN and provide opportunities for faculty and students to engage in the UN’s work. President Leahy then provided his opening remarks. He discussed the significant role the IGU has played in promoting awareness of global affairs and pushing for greater cross-cultural understanding. President Leahy also hopes to strengthen Monmouth University’s partnerships with the UN and cultivate more strategic partnerships on and off-campus.

    Dr. Saliba Sarsar then provided a formal introduction of Mr. Damodaran and his accomplishments and career with the UN. In 1996, Ramu Damodaran joined the United Nations Department of Global Communications where he managed relationships with civil society, the creative community, and celebrity advocates, as well as publications. Former UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon appointed Mr. Damodaran to devise and lead UNAI in 2010. He served as UNAI Chief until his retirement in 2021. Mr. Damodaran also helped the IGU establish the UNAI Lecture Series several years ago. The IGU hopes to re-establish this important lecture series featuring prominent UN-affiliated speakers in the 2022-2023 academic year.

    After Prof. Abate presented the Global Visionary Award, Mr. Damodaran delivered an inspiring speech to a capacity crowd in the Julian Abele Room in the Great Hall and to a robust online audience. He focused on the role of universities and the idea of space. He discussed similarities between the UN and universities in that neither entity is transactional, but both act to serve the community, each other, and ourselves.

    Mr. Damodaran especially emphasized the different types of spaces and their adaptability. When you have a physical space, it does not need to be confined to its original purpose, and spaces for human engagement and the unforeseen are essential for making justice and equality a reality. Human engagement allows for people to use their voice for what matters and, while there may be respectful disagreements, these should be used to gain new perspectives and bring people together to work for the common good. Space for the unforeseen has been extremely significant, as we have lived through the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years and more recently we are witnessing the Ukraine crisis unfold. There needs to be better preparation and preventative action to assist in these cases to protect communities and create peace.

    The lecture concluded with a Q&A session in which Mr. Damodaran answered the audience members’ questions about the different forms of space, and even the negative impacts that certain spaces such as online engagement may facilitate.

  • World Cinema Series Discussion of ‘For Sama’

    By Grace Joyce

    On March 9, 2022, the 2021-2022 World Cinema Series conducted a virtual discussion of the 2019 film, For Sama. Directed by Waad Al-Kateab, the film was nominated for Best Documentary Film Oscar in 2020 and won Best Documentary at the 2020 BAFTA Awards.Poster for film for sama

    This intimate and heart wrenching film focuses on a young woman, Waad Al-Kataed, who moved to Aleppo, Syria for college. The story goes through the years of the uprising in Aleppo and shows her falling in love, getting married, and eventually giving birth to her baby girl, Sama, all while chaos and war take over the city around her. For Sama is unique as it provides viewers a first-hand perspective of the female experience of war. The panelists for this discussion were Dr. Saliba Sarsar, a professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology with specializations in Palestinian-Israel relations and Middle Eastern democracy, and Dr. Sanjana Ragudaran, assistant professor in the School of Social Work with expertise in migrant experiences and race disparities. Dr. Tom Pearson, professor in the Department of History and Anthropology, introduced and moderated the discussion.

    The first panelist was Dr. Sarsar, who provided background information on the events leading up to the Syrian Civil War. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad widened his elite base by concentrating the power within his family. By doing so, the Asaad family wielded immense power and gained strong political backing from parliament. Dr. Sarsar identified the five main stages of the Civil War: 1) early 2011, characterized by young protesters in Syria with graffiti against the regime who retaliated with brutal force, 2) 2012, which involved an armed insurgency from opposition groups, 3) increased activity of ISIS and other Islamist groups, 4) 2015-16, when Russian military intervention increased, and 5) the Asaad regime’s ultimate consolidated control over most of Syria and its major cities. Dr. Sarsar noted this was a major confrontation larger than any in Syria, which was marked by widespread violence against civilians. He concluded his remarks with a discussion of how this was something no child should ever have to experience, and that even during the suffering the people found a way to manage and carry on with their lives.

    Dr. Ragudaran took a different approach with the film and considered how war impacts people emotionally and physically, specifically children; the presence of racial bias; and the intergenerational trauma that war causes. The children during the war did not know peace, and their systems were constantly operating on a fight or flight basis. Moreover, many of these children’s friends were dead or left behind. When children are displaced, they are removed from schooling and socializing, and also face racial biases as in many situations whites are seen as the “superior race”. This creates the need for more funding, social working, and resettlement workers not only for the children, but for all refugees. Dr. Ragudaran also offered a feminist perspective on the conflict in Syria, which is rarely shown in the context of war.

  • IGU-UCI Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series Panel Addresses Ocean Justice

    By Grace Joyce

    On March 9, 2022, the Institute for Global Understanding and the Urban Coast Institute co-hosted the virtual panel discussion, “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Ocean Justice.” The event was this year’s first installment of the Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series, which consists of experts discussing legal, scientific, and policy issues that impact coastal and marine ecosystems. Moderated by IGU Director Prof. Randall Abate, the panel consisted of three speakers who opened a discussion on what ocean justice is and how it can be pursued in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in higher education and in contexts such as marine plastics and coastal wetlands restoration.

    The first panelist was Dr. Sharmini Pitter, the assistant director of the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems (NOAA CCME). Dr. Pitter emphasized the importance of education and training in spreading awareness of climate change and developing solutions for future ocean justice issues. Under the leadership of Florida A&M University, the NOAA CCME program works with several partner institutions to educate, train, and graduate a new generation of scientists, particularly from underrepresented communities. There are three focal areas: 1) coastal intelligence, 2) coastal resilience, and 3) place-based conversation. All students in this program are required to participate in a center-wide core competency course consisting of online modules and an in-person case study based on actual cases from the host community. Pre- and post-testing is conducted to help the students integrate what has been learned into real-life situations.

    The second panelist was Dr. Juliano Calil, senior fellow at the Center for the Blue Economy, adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and co-founder of Virtual Planet Technologies. This presentation focused on the importance of realizing that plastic pollution is a human rights issue. Dr. Calil started with some jarring statistics. 11 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, which accounts for 80% of all marine debris. The pandemic exacerbated this challenge, as there has been an increase in plastic waste from medical and personal use, and low oil prices drove down the cost of virgin plastic production. Dr. Calil also touched on how offshore drilling, ports, and landfills are all typically located near low-income areas and impose disproportionate burdens on these communities. To reverse or decrease these impacts, Dr. Calil asserted that policy changes need to be made at all levels, an international treaty on plastic would be extremely beneficial, a circular economy should be implemented, and public education must be improved.

    The final presenter was Dr. Monica Barra, a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor of race and environment in the School of the Earth, Ocean & Environment and Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Barra noted that to successfully implement environmental solutions, scientific research must shift to become more inclusive by integrating those who face the impacts directly and disproportionately, such as minority populations in coastal communities. She has worked on research projects in coastal Louisiana that sought to democratize science by engaging the burdened communities with environmental scientists. The process was amicable, but the scientists often made assumptions for resident input rather than soliciting their opinions. Dr. Barra argued that justice must be implemented in science to create beneficial solutions for nature restoration.

  • Panel Discusses Proposed Treaty to Limit Risk of Next Pandemic

    By Grace Joyce,

    Image of moderator and two panelists

    On March 1, 2022, the Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) had the honor of hosting a panel, Preventing the Next Pandemic: The Draft Convention on Animal Protection. Moderated by Prof. Randall Abate, the panel included two members from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon: Marcia Condoy, a Peruvian animal lawyer and L.L.M. candidate in animal law, and Dr. Rajesh K. Reddy, director of the Global Animal Law and advanced degree programs in animal law. The discussion examined the COVID-19 pandemic and how, like many of its predecessors such as Lyme disease, Ebola, and HIV-AIDs, this pandemic was caused by a zoonotic virus. In other words, many of these deadly viruses have been passed from animals to humans in a “spillover event.” The panelists provided an overview of the goals and framework of the draft Convention on Animal Protection (CAP) treaty and emphasized the significance of the connection among human health, animals, and the environment.

    Dr. Reddy offered background context to provide an understanding as to why protecting animal health is synonymous with protecting human health and preventing the next pandemic. He noted that about 75% of all diseases that afflict humans are of zoonotic origin, and a number of these have higher mortality rates than COVID-19. These diseases are spread among animals from systemic cruelty, which manifests in many ways such as being placed in overcrowded facilities with various species where they suffer from open sores, starvation, and compromised immune systems. The spillover risk occurs when humans are in high risk contact with the animals who are highly susceptible to disease, which occurs in many animal exploitation contexts such as factory farms, puppy mills, and hunting. He further observed that spillovers require application of a “one health” approach because it recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment. Dr. Reddy further explained why a pandemic treaty is necessary, as states need to work together to combat these issues and increase animal protection to safeguard human health.

    This is where the Convention on Animal Protection (CAP) will have an important role. Ms. Condoy provided an overview of the treaty and its fundamental provisions and prohibitions. The treaty stresses the importance of coexistence and ethical treatment of animals, and seeks to protect animals from unnecessary killing and suffering to improve their lives, which will help improve human health. It proposes to regulate wildlife and their habitats, transportation, companion and commercial animals, and animals in research and entertainment. The treaty seeks to prohibit live animal testing and use of performance enhancing drugs on animals, and avoid mixing incompatible species. CAP focuses on animal welfare rather than animal rights because implementing a global standard of care for animals must be feasible to get as many states to participate as possible.

    The discussion concluded with a Q&A session in which audience members asked Dr. Reddy and Ms. Condoy questions to further understand the objectives and mechanisms of the treaty as well as how it will be implemented. By the end of the discussion, it was apparent that animal health, human health, and the environment are interdependent and a one health approach will be necessary to prevent the next pandemic.

  • World Cinema Series – “Shoplifters” Virtual Panel Discussion

    By Grace Joyce

    Zoom screenshot of attendees and image from shoplifters film

    On February 9, 2022, the 2021-2022 World Cinema Series conducted a virtual discussion of the 2018 crime/drama film, Shoplifters. Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, the film was the Palme d’Or award winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, as well as the Japanese Academy Award winner for Prize Picture of the Year in 2019. It also received an Oscar nomination in 2019 for Best Foreign Language Film.

    This emotional story tackles themes of crime, isolation, poverty, and most importantly emphasizes that family goes beyond DNA. It follows a “family” of six living in Tokyo in a small, overcrowded hut with inadequate income to support themselves. In this hut resides a man named Osamu; the mother, Nobuyu; a woman, Aki; the grandmother, as well as a boy named Shyota and a girl named Yuri. While this group is not related by blood, the isolation they feel and conditions they face together created an incredibly strong bond among them as they participate in petty theft to be able to survive.

    The film opens with Osamu and Shyota moving up and down the aisles slowly in a store and it soon becomes clear that theft is a part of their normal routine through their nonverbal communication and eye contact. Upon leaving the store, the two find a young girl outside on a freezing cold night who appears scared and not well taken care of, and this is the introduction of Yuri. An agreement is made to bring her home, not realizing that her abusive parents would end up searching for her after her disappearance. As Yuri acclimates to her new family’s lifestyle of petty crimes, secrets begin to unfold and the family’s bonds are truly put to the test.

    The first panelist was Dr. Rekha Datta, the Freed Endowed Chair of Social Sciences and professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology. She offered insights on several topics: (1) family and motherhood, (2) gender, and (3) criminality and ethics. Dr. Datta emphasized how strong the bonds were within this family regardless of the fact they were not blood related, and discussed how Nobuyo took on the mother role for Yuri, which posed the question of what truly makes a mother.

    She briefly discussed the role of gender as we see that the women, Aki and Nobuyo, work in the sex trade while Osamu and Shyota do the shoplifting. Dr. Datta also brought up the significance of criminality and ethics, as the family’s living conditions present the viewer with the moral question of whether it is really stealing when it is solely things needed to survive and which are not being sold for profit.Zoom screenshot of attendees

    Prof. Frank Cipriani, specialist professor in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, focused on the cinematography of the film. He noted the symbolism reflected in the color schemes and soundtrack. The color choices provide us with emotional clues, as blue represents love and memory while red represents the past. As for the soundtrack, Prof. Cipriani observed that while the soundtrack is very minimal, the characters are represented by separate instruments but when they are together, they join in the same tune and create an orchestra, which represents the family.

  • Joyce James Delivers Final Lecture in “Growing Together as Allies” Series

    image of Joyce James
    By Anne Deepak


    On Thursday, December 2, 2021, Monmouth University’s School of Social Work’s Growing Together as Allies lecture series (GTAA) hosted Joyce James who delivered a presentation titled, “Supporting Systems and Communities in Achieving Racial Equity: A Groundwater Analysis.” This session was co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding and was partially funded by a Diversity Innovation Grant from the Intercultural Center. GTAA is a committee of faculty, students, and alumni working to advance anti-racism within the school, university, and community. Dr. Anne Deepak, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, and Professor Leah Lazzaro, Assistant Dean in the School of Social Work, moderated this session.

    For forty years, Ms. James has worked to enhance outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, and families. Her professional social work journey from Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker to Assistant Commissioner of Texas CPS, to a leader of the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities (CEDD)/Texas State Office of Minority Health at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is a powerful one.  Her leadership and persistence in raising issues of institutional and structural racism in helping systems influenced Texas to pass legislation that directly addressed racial inequity in child welfare, health, mental health, education, and juvenile justice. She is currently the President and CEO of Joyce James Consulting.

    Ms. James began the presentation with an explanation of the different forms of racism and stressed how crucial it is to understand how each form of racism relates to other forms of racism. Since racism is usually seen only at the individual level, it is easy to assume that racism is perpetuated by a “few bad apples” in society. However, Ms. James explained that the deeper issue is racism on a structural level because this form of racism is embedded in our society’s rules, practices, and culture. Hence, removing the bad apples from systems that produce racial inequity will not solve the problem; the focus of change must be on the system rather than on the individuals within it. Throughout the presentation, Ms. James shared the collective impact of historical and current racial inequity throughout systems.

    Her core message to social workers and people working in helping systems was that, without an understanding of institutionalized racism, we do harm. She emphasized that there is a critical need for us to understand how all these systems create this harm. Once we have that analysis and understanding we must become critical lovers of our systems to make change, and we must invite in the community to inform us of how systems can better serve them.Image of slide from power point presentation

    The session concluded with thoughtful reflections and questions from audience members. This led to a discussion on audience members’ own experiences with racism and questions on how we can change the racist social systems in the United States through the organizations and institutions we participate in.

    To learn more about the other sessions hosted by the School of Social Work Growing Together as Allies Fall 2021 Speaker Series, please click here.

  • Dr. Denise McLane-Davison Delivers Third Lecture in “Growing Together as Allies” Series

    By Dr. Anne Deepak

    On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Monmouth University’s School of Social Work “Growing Together as Allies” (GTAA) lecture series hosted Dr. Denise-McLane Davison who delivered a presentation titled, “The Strengths of Black Families”. The event, with an audience of 98, was co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding and was partially funded through a Diversity and Innovation Grant from the Intercultural Center. GTAA is a committee of faculty, students, and alumni from the School of Social Work working to advance anti-racism within the school, university, and community.

    Dr. Denise-McLane Davison is an associate professor of social work at Morgan State University and the founding researcher and archivist of the National Association of Black Social Workers, Inc. (NABSW) National Repository at Morgan State University and the recipient of The HistoryMakers, Inc. 2020 National Digital Humanities Award, as well as the 2020 Faculty Women of Color in The Academy Zenobia L. Hikes Teaching-Research National Award Winner. The session addressed the strengths of Black families as amplified by Black social workers and scholars historically and currently.

    Dr. McLane-Davison began by inviting the audience to honor their family journeys and to start by getting grounded and connected in the Zoom space she created. She framed her presentation in womanist pedagogy that is organic, practice-informed, and transdisciplinary — produced through the rituals, traditions, values, culture and resilience of historically disenfranchised communities.

    In her presentation, Dr. McLane-Davison shared that the strengths of Black families are interwoven into institutions such as NABSW and social work programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Founded in 1968, NABSW regards the preservation of the Black family and community as its primary responsibility due to research and discourse that pathologized Black families. The strengths perspective has guided their members’ scholarship, practice, and curriculum for over 50 years. Black families have a strong work orientation, strong religious orientation, strong belief in family, strong achievement orientation, and adaptable family roles, among other strengths. This scholarship is largely silenced in social work education resulting in social workers that view Black families from a pathological lens that assumes families are incapable of addressing their own challenges.

    Throughout the dynamic and interactive presentation, Dr. McLane-Davison presented the history of Black social work organizations’ naming the central problems of structural violence and racism that continues today. As early as 1926, the First Public Welfare Institute for Negro Social Workers voiced its concerns about challenges that Black families and communities were facing—housing discrimination, police brutality, equal rights, jobs, and surveillance laws that enabled police and government to control access of people and communities. In 1968, the National Federation of Student Social Workers charged the national social work organization with “welfare colonialism” for failure to address structural poverty.

    Dr. McLane-Davison concluded by asking the audience to reflect on the fact that we, as social workers and society, have known about racial injustice and structural poverty and asked why we haven’t done anything. She asked, “Where do we go from here? What must we learn? What must we unlearn? Do we believe we have the power to change?”.  These questions led to an hour-long discussion with attendees who were inspired and energized by the presentation.

    To learn more about the final session hosted by the School of Social Work’s “Growing Together as Allies” Fall Lecture series, please click here.