Social Work for Social Justice: Creating Responsive and Inclusive Institutions, Policies, and Practices

Doctoral Centennial 1920-2020

An October symposium series in honor of 100 Years of SSA’s Doctoral Program

Join us for a month-long celebration honoring two SSA milestones – the School’s merger with the University of Chicago and the 100th anniversary of the doctoral program.

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From 1920 to 2020

In October 1920, the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy joined the University of Chicago and became the School of Social Service Administration. That same year, SSA launched its PhD program, graduating Helen Rankin Jeter, AM ’20 four years later, followed by a little over 500 students in the ensuing 100 years.

This fall, join us for a series of centennial celebrations that examine SSA’s role in shaping the profession throughout history and going forward.

Four virtual symposia throughout October will gather SSA doctoral program graduates from across generations who will reflect on, discuss, and explore the profession’s involvement in key social work areas. Panelists will offer critical perspectives on the profession’s efforts in advancing a more racially and economically just society and in developing practices, programs, and policies that respond to the needs of the most marginalized members of society.

All programs at 4:30 - 6:00 pm CT.

Wednesday, October 7: Advancing Socially Just Services for Children, Youth, and Families

Faculty Convener: Associate Professor Gina M. Samuels, PhD, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Panelists: Brenda D. Smith, PhD '99, (Univ. of Alabama), Joan Blakey, PhD '10, (Tulane Univ.), Daysi Diaz-Strong, PhD '18, (Univ. of Illinois, Chicago), Maria Ferrera, PhD '11, (DePaul Univ.), Sireen Irsheid, (SSA PhD student)


Wednesday, October 14: Racial/Ethnic and Cultural Contours of Community Interventions, Advocacy, and Change

Faculty Convener: Associate Professor Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., PhD '93, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Panelists: Llewellyn J. Cornelius, PhD '88, (Univ. of Georgia), Lissette Piedra, PhD '06, (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Keith Green, PhD '18, (Loyola Univ.), Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, PhD '11, (Latino Policy Forum), Lester Kern, (SSA PhD student)

The noble aims of the social work profession are fraught with racialized tensions from its earliest beginnings. Envisioned as a late 19th/early 20th century scientific response to "the nativist anger and anxieties [that vilified] immigrants" (Janssen, 2016), social work continues to grapple with a history in which social inclusion and social justice have been denied Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). This panel will interrogate the history of social work's engagement with and exclusion of marginalized populations in the development and practice of community interventions and in efforts to mobilize for community change. It will also consider ways forward that center the needs and experiences of BIPOC communities to truly advance social work's vision of racial and social justice for all.


Wednesday, October 21: Precarious Employment in the Context of COVID-19: Governmental and Private Sector Responses to Mitigate Economic Hardship

Faculty Convener: Professor Susan Lambert, PhD, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Panelists: Marci A. Ybarra, PhD (Univ. of Chicago, SSA), H. Luke Shaefer, PhD '08, (Univ. of Michigan), JaeSeung Kim, PhD '18, (Univ. of South Carolina), Anna Haley, PhD '03, (Rutgers Univ.), Hyojin Cho, (SSA PhD student)

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to an economic and public health crisis affecting hundreds of millions of workers and families in the United States and across the world. Like past economic crises, the consequences of COVID-19 disproportionately affect workers on the front lines, those responding to our health, education, caregiving, and everyday needs. This panel will consider the differential impact of the pandemic across the workforce. Drawing from their research, panelists will discuss promising strategies to mitigate hardship during and after the pandemic through public policies, social services, and employer practices. Panelists will reflect on how SSA has helped prepare them to contribute to this needed knowledge and offer suggestions on how to advance social, economic, and racial justice in the wake of COVID-19.


Wednesday, October 28: Doctoral Education in Social Work: Programmatic Reforms for the 21st Century

Faculty Convener: Professor Julia Henly, PhD, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Panelists: Kristen Shook Slack, '99, (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison), Desmond Upton Patton, PhD '12, (Columbia Univ.), Alejandra Ros Pilarz, PhD '15, (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), Lawrence Root, PhD '80, (Univ. Michigan), Tina Sacks, PhD '13, (Univ. California, Berkeley), Katherine Gibson, (SSA PhD student)

A century ago, Edith Abbott and Sophonisba Breckinridge launched the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, and one of the first PhD programs in social work and social welfare was born. There are now almost 100 doctoral programs in social work in the United States, training researchers, educators, and leaders. What have we learned about doctoral pedagogy in this first century of PhD-level training in our profession? What role does social work scholarship play in these times? How can PhD programs best put into practice the principles, values, and ethics of our profession? And how can a doctoral-level social work education be used to advance social justice, racial equity, and an anti-oppressive society? This panel will reflect on the purpose and aims of doctoral social work pedagogy in the 21st century and how to best achieve those aims through the training we provide. We will consider several aspects of PhD-level pedagogy including curriculum, research, mentorship, institutional policies and practices, and professional service.


You will receive an email with webinar links after you register. For questions about accessibility, technical issues, or for questions about any of the symposia, please contact or call 773.702.9700. 

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