A DIVERSE AND WELCOMING STUDENT COMMUNITY
Inclusion is more than just a commitment; it’s at the very core of SP2.
Now and throughout our history, the School of Social Policy & Practice has been dedicated to the principles of anti-racism, anti-oppression, intersectionality, inclusion, diversity, and social justice. That commitment has never been as important as it is today.
Our students, from all identities and experiences, embody these values in both theory and practice. They bring them to life every day by engaging in innovative policy and research, doing work that makes a real difference here in Philadelphia and beyond, and tirelessly fighting for equity and justice.
The Racism Sequence
Learn more about SP2’s Racism Sequence, a groundbreaking curriculum that explores institutionalized forms of racism and discrimination in America, and how it informs the education of our students and the role we play in promoting social justice.
DEI in the Curriculum
SP2’s focus on social justice demands an interdisciplinary, intersectional, and engaged commitment to recognizing and valuing the innumerable identities, experiences, histories, and aspirations that animate our local and global community. This commitment permeates all five of our rigorous degree programs (MSW, MSSP, NPL, DSW, and PhD), helping to bind those programs to SP2’s comprehensive mission: producing the best social service providers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders in the world.
Students Making a Difference
From working on refugee resettlement policy to exploring the educational experiences of transgender youth, our students are making an impact on the lives of traditionally marginalized communities.
One Book, One SP2
Each year, SP2 selects a book to be read by students, faculty, staff, and alumni prior to beginning the academic year. Throughout the school year, the community is invited to participate in activities and discussions related to that year’s work. One Book, One SP2 underscores our commitment to social justice, and supports Penn’s Compact 2022, which motivates community members to innovate, be radically inclusive, and positively impact their local, national, and global communities.
Research at SP2
Our students, faculty, and staff engage in ground-breaking research on topics related to identity, immigration, and racism, enhancing the School’s understanding of how personal, cultural, and social factors impact important issues within marginalized communities.
Connecting with Peers; Becoming Allies
SP2 is home to a variety of student organizations devoted to supporting one another, including: The Association of Black Social Workers, Asians for Justice, The Jewish Social Work Alliance, and Trans Student Union.
The Penn Experience: Racism, Reconciliation, and Engagement
This non-credit asynchronous online course aims to establish common language and concepts for incoming graduate and professional students to facilitate conversations about race, racism and difference in the classroom and beyond. Using video interviews, presentations, short readings and podcasts, the course highlights the significance of Penn’s and Philadelphia’s history of racism, Penn’s evolving relationship to West Philadelphia, and Penn’s efforts toward greater engagement and inclusion. Modules also focus on harm, healing and transformative justice; different forms of oppression; gender identity; equity and access to healthcare; and social determinants of health. One module designed primarily for white students addresses the antiracist work that must be done to dismantle white privilege and white supremacy while another module addresses racial literacy and racial stress for students of color.
Launched in June 2020, the course was developed through a partnership between the School of Social Policy & Practice and the School of Dental Medicine. In 2021 (version 2.0 of the course), additional schools/programs joined the partnership. The four course directors are responsible for developing and revising content based on feedback from colleagues and students.
Beverley Crawford, DDS
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
School of Dental Medicine
Jessie Harper, EdD
Assistant Dean, Faculty Affairs & Diversity
Graduate School of Education
Amy Hillier, MSW, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice
Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Esq
Associate Dean for Equity & Justice
Chief DEI Officer
Carey Law School
Each participating school or program implements the course differently, including the timing, modules required, and grade/credit issued. For more information about how the course is implemented across schools, please reach out to the specific school contact.
- Carey Law School: Arlene Rivera Finkelstein
- Graduate School of Education: Leland McGee
- Master of Public Health Program: Elaine Weigelt
- School of Social Policy & Practice: Amy Hillier
- School of Dental Medicine: Beverley Crawford
- School of Veterinary Medicine: Roderick Gilbert
- Weitzman School of Design: Matt Miller
The course content is revised each year to reflect student feedback and new ideas and events at Penn and in the world. Version 3.0 includes 10 modules with an estimated completion time of 10-12 hours. Students are required to complete short assessments, including close-ended and open-ended questions designed to highlight key point and encourage personal reflection, at the end of each module.
These video clips provide examples of the voices and topics included in the course.
In fall 2021, we hired outside consultants Sukey Blanc and Michelle Day to conduct an external evaluation including interviews and focus groups.
We completed an internal evaluation of the course after the first year.
Peer-review manuscripts are under review with the Journal of Social Work Education and Journal of Dental Education.
Penn Today included a story about course in 2021. View it here.
SP2 students are always watching, reading, and listening to content that informs the ways in which they view the world, educates them on issues they have not had as much exposure to and inspires them to do the jobs they want to do. SP2 students recommended the following resources on race, social justice, and inclusion during the 2020-2021 academic year.
- Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America, Peter Edelman
- The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Thinking Critically About Class and Criminal Justice, Jeffrey Reiman & Paul Leighton
- Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, Edgar Villanueva
- Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out, Ruth King
- Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
- All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks
- Laziness Does Not Exist, Devon Price
Franco, D. (2019). This Land Is Our Land: Exploring the Impact of U.S. Immigration Policies on Social Work Practice. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 31(1), 21–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/10428232.2019.1583956.
Hardy, K. (2013). Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 22, 24-28.
Okun, T. White Supremacy Culture. https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_- _white_sup_culture.pdf.
Taiwo, O. O. Being in he Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference. The Philosopher, 108(4). https://www.thephilosopher1923.org/essay-taiwo.
Family Law, Gender Equity, and Reproductive Rights – Melissa Weiler Gerber
Melissa Weiler Gerber is President and CEO of accessmatters.org, an organization aims to transform access to sexual and reproductive health. Join MSSP class Law and Policy (MSSP 6310) to learn […]
Defender Association Presentation
A team of staff and social workers from the Defender will be talking about the mission and work of the Defender Association and the role of social work in serving […]
SP2 announces Amber Hikes, MSW’08, as 2023 commencement speaker
Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) announced today that SP2 graduate Amber Hikes, MSW’08, (they/she), current Deputy Executive Director for Strategy & Culture for the ACLU, will deliver the School’s 2023 Commencement speech on May 13. Learn more from today’s message from SP2 Dean Sara “Sally” S. Bachman, PhD.