Diversity and Inclusion

A Commitment to Social Work’s Social Justice Values

As communities and individuals face new and continued threats of marginalization, discrimination and violence, the Graduate School of Social Work is resolved to uphold its long-standing commitment to core social work values and principles of social justice for all humans, living beings and systems.

We uphold the values and principles outlined in the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

As social workers, we are charged with:

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    Enhancing Human Well-Being

    Meeting the basic needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of those who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty.

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    Promoting Social Justice and Social Change

    Striving to end discrimination, oppression, poverty and other forms of social injustice through activities including community organizing, advocacy and political action.

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    Being Active Advocates

    Advocating for and with marginalized communities.

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    Challenging Social Injustice

    Promoting sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity.

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    Encouraging Respect for Diversity

    Promoting conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity in the U.S. and globally.

The Social 2018 audience speaker

Solidarity Statement for Diversity and Justice

The GSSW community values inclusion and stands in solidarity with immigrants, religious groups, people of color, indigenous communities, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual violence, members of the LGBTQIA community, and all other communities whose civil rights have been threatened and/or violated. These communities have long resisted ongoing racism, bias and other intersecting forms of oppression. 

Oppression and marginalization can take many forms, from micro-aggressive comments to overt hate speech, from unjust distribution of resources to restrictions on international trade, and from aggression toward individuals to systemic barriers restricting services and access for communities.

As a school dedicated to the development of future social workers who will embody and represent the values and ethics of social justice, we commit ourselves to understanding our place in the larger context of institutional injustice and to “bending the arc” of history toward a more just world.

As part of our responsibility to confront and dismantle institutional and systemic oppression, we pledge to: 

  • Commit to direct conversations that honor historical and ongoing experiences and identify and enact just and responsive social work practices
  • Collaborate with and participate in community-led, mutually beneficial, non-exploitative relationships in our research and practice and to participate in nonviolent actions that spur critical dialogue and embody anti-oppressive social work practice
  • Advocate for inclusive and transformative social, environmental and political change

As an institution committed to the public good, we dedicate ourselves to developing a culture of critical consciousness that promotes anti-discriminatory programs and policies through our educational and scholarship efforts. We will continually address the intersectional nature of power, privilege and oppression in our interactions with clients, students, communities and each other.

audience at Rules for Radicals event

Gender Inclusive Communication Statement

We encourage all students, staff and faculty to use gender-inclusive writing and speech and to avoid references to gender unless pronouns are known. Assuming a person’s gender based on name or appearance can create communication that ignores essential aspects of one’s identity. Whenever possible, use gender neutral pronouns to include individuals whose gender is unknown or non-binary. For example, use “person” instead of “man or woman,” say “they” instead of “he/she” and “you all” instead of “you guys” to ensure that our whole community is addressed in our communications. We also encourage you to share your pronouns in your professional communications. For more information on why this matters, please visit My Pronouns.Org What and Why.

Inclusive Excellence Committee

The University of Denver defines inclusive excellence as “the recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni constituents.”

The Graduate School of Social Work created an Inclusive Excellence Committee in spring 2016 to focus solely on inclusive practices at the school. Consistent with the ideals of the Council of Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers, this committee is charged with recommending policies, actions, programs and pedagogy that promote social justice and inclusivity. The committee surveyed the Graduate School of Social Work community to determine priorities, goals and action steps, working collaboratively to hold the school accountable to our collective vision of inclusive excellence in the following focus areas:

  • Culture and climate
  • Composition, including admission, hiring and ongoing professional development
  • Curriculum and pedagogy
  • Operations, policies, procedures and structures
  • Community engagement, including coordination with DU and the broader community

Connect with the GSSW Inclusive Excellence Committee.

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