Social Justice Rapid Response: Engaging Students in Campus Activism


Chris Fike, MS, MSW | September 20 | 9:00-10:00 AM

Topic: Programming | Knowledge Level: Beginner, Intermediate | Location: TBD

In response to the emerging political climate in the United States, one in which marginalized communities face increasing risks and threats, one Social Work department at a public university in the Midwest developed a Social Justice Rapid Response team to mobilize collective departmental responses to social justice flashpoints. Given our ethical responsibility to pursue social change with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people, and as a means of promoting social justice, human rights, and respect for diversities, the Rapid Response team organizes on-campus actions to counter immediate social injustices. The Rapid Response team has collaborated with student organizations, academic units from across campus, institutional programs, and community partners to facilitate teach-ins, organize direct actions, host education fairs, coordinate community panels, and arrange coordinated awareness- raising activities. Since its inception in 2017, the Rapid Response team has coordinated six events, including a DACA teach-in, a workshop on responding to white supremacy, a March for Our Lives solidarity vigil, a voter information and education fair, a community panel on sexual assault prevention, and a transgender awareness week. Rapid Response has engaged more than 400 students, faculty, staff, and community members, partnered with more than 20 community organizations, and received coverage in campus and local media outlets. This presentation will provide participants with concrete examples to demonstrate the efficacy of interprofessional on-campus community organizing strategies in social work education, including their application in promoting critical thinking, raising critical consciousness, and engaging students with relevant social and cultural flashpoints.

Presentation Objectives:

·  Identify the role of democratic learning in public institutions of higher education, specifically emphasizing the efficacy of experiential campus organizing activities in raising critical consciousness among students, faculty, and staff across campus

·  Contextualize teach-ins within a critical pedagogical framework, highlighting the effectiveness of democratic learning in promoting critical thinking and collective action among undergraduate and graduate social work students

·  Demonstrate the effectiveness of interprofessional collaboration in creating space for democratic learning, facilitating engagement and dialogue, and fostering community-university partnerships for responding to social injustice

About the Presenter