Our Diversity & Social Justice Committee guides the implementation of our plan for increasing the cultural competence of the School of Social Work.

In 1996, the School of Social Work implemented an organization-wide intervention that dramatically increased its capacity to develop the knowledge, skills, and experiences required for culturally competent practice. Outcomes of the initiative included monthly faculty anti-racism training, school/community "Social Justice Brown Bag" discussions and consultation for curriculum revision to prepare students for practice with diverse populations. In addition, partnerships were developed with a wide range of individuals and organizations throughout Iowa and other states in the Midwest, as well as partnerships in Mexico, India, San Bernardino and Philadelphia, and Cultural Immersion study-abroad programs in Dominican Republic and Haiti. These partnerships have increased our cultural competence as a school and enriched our educational programs so that our students will be better prepared to work in a diverse world.

The School requires anti-racism training for all incoming undergraduate and graduate students in all centers utilizing the model from the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI), a nonprofit leadership training organization based in Washington, D.C.. This one-day workshop provides a foundation for talking about racism, all forms of oppression and coalition building across differences.  

The Certificate in Critical Cultural Competence, a university wide certificate program, was developed by the School, is housed in Social Work and directed by Clinical Assistant Professor Yolanda Spears. Cultural competence can best be understood as a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes and policies that enable a system, agency, or professional to function effectively across cultural difference (Cross, 1988). In this context, cultural difference (also called diversity) includes, but is not limited to, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and socio-economic class. As Cross (1989) notes, "systems, agencies, or professionals do not start out being culturally competent. Like other types of competence, cultural competence is developed over time through training, experience, guidance, and self-evaluation. Since its inception in 2010, the enrollment has doubled each year and is now at capacity.

We are committed to providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Statement of Inclusivity

At the School of Social Work, we seek to engage in constructive, respective dialogue as personal values are challenged in the process of developing a professional social work identity.  We seek to respectfully engage with others who are different from ourselves in the classroom and the community, regardless of our personal values.

Therefore we expect that applicants accepting admission will join faculty and staff in this effort, and will:

  • Encourage and welcome diversity in all aspects of campus and community life.
  • Address social justice issues that affect human beings as a consequence of oppression, poverty, marginalization and alienation because of the intersection of multiple factors, including those identified by CSWE: class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, sex, sexual orientation and religious, non-religious, or spiritual beliefs.
  • Refrain from prejudicial language and discriminating behavior and challenge stereotypes when others speak in derogatory generalizations.
  • Agree that hate speech or actions are not tolerated in the School.
  • Foster intercultural dialogues, examine individual biases, and critically analyze intersections of privilege and oppression.
  • Expand understanding of cultural diversity by exploring other cultures through rigorous academic study and participating in/supporting community events.  
  • Demonstrate empathy in a culturally sensitive manner, to listen, and work to solve problems peacefully.
  • Create a community that is a safe environment for all.

Adhere to program policies articulated in the Social Work Student Handbook (including the professional competencies articulated by CSWE in the Educational Policy Statement).