Events at GSSW
A Hub for Social Justice and Civic Engagement
At the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW), we’re serious about our role as a catalyst for social change in communities near and far. With topics that span social work and social justice interests, our events bring the University of Denver campus and broader community together to learn, grow, mobilize and drive change.
When violence in Charlottesville, Va., captured national headlines, we responded with lectures and workshops that explored racial justice and provoked meaningful — and sometimes difficult — reflections and conversations. When political differences threatened to divide the nation, we answered with the Civic Education for Civic Engagement series, which brought campus and community together in a spirit of collaborative problem-solving.
Many of our events sell out. Be the first to know what’s coming so you don’t miss an opportunity to learn, grow and drive change.
February 13, 2023
Balancing Intention and Chance: Welcoming Unplanned Possibilities and Flexibility in Research
In this Jeffery Jenson Research Award address, Professor Jennifer Bellamy will discuss how researchers can embrace the unexpected along a scholarly journey, while still maintaining a steadfast commitment to the rigor that research demands and the ultimate goals of their work. She will share her perspectives on how preparing for and embracing the unforeseen can lead to richer, and more dynamic work. Bellamy will discuss lessons learned from her own research experiences, focusing on developing interventions to better engage fathers in child and family serving systems.
- 1 - 2:30 p.m. MST
- Virtual & In-person
February 8, 2023
Catalyst Series for Social Justice: A Talk with ALOK
"None of us have simple stories. We are as complex as all of the things that have been done to us." Alok Vaid-Menon
On February 8th, 2023 the Graduate School of Social Work welcomes Alok Vaid-Menon as our next speaker in our Catalyst Series for Social Justice. ALOK (they/them) is an internationally acclaimed author, poet, comedian, and public speaker. As a mixed-media artist their work explores themes of trauma, belonging, and the human condition, and they are the author of Femme in Public (2017), Beyond the Gender Binary (2020), and Your Wound/My Garden (2021). Their writing and experience living at the intersection of joyous expression and deeply targeted hate will be the foundation of their talk, followed by a Q&A with audience submitted questions.
- 4-5:30 p.m. MST
Events That Engage
Over the past two years, more than 10,000 people in 21 states have participated in GSSW events either online or on campus. All of our events are designed to be inclusive and accessible — most are free and many are live streamed. We invite alumni and experts from throughout the campus and community to share their knowledge.
Virtual Continuing Education
Our continuing education programs — from licensure preparation to professional development — provide ongoing opportunities for our alumni, social work practitioners and community members to strengthen and enhance their professional knowledge and repertoire of skills. Want to learn something completely new? You can do that, too.
Past Event Series
Environmental and Racial Justice Series
Environmental racism is a lived experience for many communities of color, every day, in the U.S. and globally. Pollution, land loss, food and water insecurity, weather extremes connected to climate change, and other environmental problems unfairly and disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other racially minoritized communities. In this 3-part series—co-sponsored with the Grand Challenge to Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment—we explored community practice and partnership, social work education, and policy changes needed at the nexus of environmental and racial justice, in pursuit of a healthy and thriving world for all.
Part 1: Disrupting Environmental Racism Webinar
This first panel in the series brought together community leaders, students and scholars to discuss their own community-engaged experiences, the joys and challenges of partnerships in this work, and how we can mobilize action to disrupt environmental racism and create environmental and racial justice.
Lizeth Chacón, Executive Director, Colorado People’s Alliance
Ajulo Othow, Founder and CEO, EnerWealth Solutions
Smitha Rao, PhD Candidate, Boston College School of Social Work
Part 2: Transforming Social Work Education
Our guest panelists shared, motivated, inspired, guided and challenged us in our pursuit of social change and ecological justice. Following the presentation, GSSW graduate students moderated the Q&A and discussion with our speakers, furthering the conversation.
Yolanda Machado-Escudero, Assistant Professor, University of North Florida
Leah Prussia, Associate Professor, The College of St. Scholastica
Part 3: Mobilizing Power for Action and Change
A panel with leading advocates, analysts and elected officials provided us with tools for mobilizing power for environmental and racial justice.
Charles E Lewis, Jr, PhD, MSW
Director, Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy
Jessica Black, PhD, MSW
Assistant Professor, Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Tessa Kaneene, MUP
Senior Advisor, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government
Taylor Bazajou, MSW
Community Engagement Director, Councilwoman Teri Castillo, District 5, San Antonio, TX
Hosted by Associate Professor Lisa Reyes Mason.
From Criminalization to Community
Communities nationwide are contending with the systemic racism, implicit bias and excessive force endemic in American policing, justice and other social systems. But even as we work to dismantle systems that disproportionately harm people of color, we must also critically examine our own complicity in unjust systems and work to create change.
Watch the events from this two-part series held in August 2020.
Past Event: Reimagining Justice
Activists, scholars, social workers and individuals involved in the criminal justice system invited participants into their experiences through personal storytelling and audience dialogue. They discussed their involvement with the justice system and challenged the audience to imagine a system that truly delivers justice for all. The event was facilitated by Assistant Professor Shannon Sliva and Clinical Assistant Professor Brian Gonzales. Panelists included (in order of storytelling) Jamiylah Nelson, Chris Richardson, Apryl Alexander, Kevin Bishop, and Sharletta Evans.
Past Event: Social Work's Role in Safety, Security and Policing
What does “defunding the police” really mean? What alternatives to public safety models are being used, and how can social work help to create communities that are safer and more just? Explore these questions and more with a panel of local activists and experts.
Resources mentioned at the event:
- Justice Services including Co-Responders (Colorado Office of Behavioral Health)
- Co-Responder Programs
- New programs use mental health professionals as an alternative to police
- New program diverts some 911 calls from police to a mental health team
- Senate Bill 217 Law Enforcement Integrity (Colorado)
- 911 Diversion (Denver)
Past Event: Journeys to Abolition: On the Road to Changing Everything
The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the enduring issue of state violence has thrust the word “abolition” into mainstream discourses more so in the past year than perhaps any other time. In these discourses, much has been distorted and misunderstood, and the people who are deeply engaged in abolitionist study and practice—predominantly Black, Brown, LGBTQIA+ folx—are not centered. Our panel brought together students, organizers, and scholars of abolitionist praxis to discuss their personal journeys to, and understandings of, abolition as a philosophy, organizing strategy, and daily practice. This event was an invitation to not only gain clarity around what “abolition” truly means, but to hear firsthand the complexity involved with unlearning the default understandings that separate us and building new ones that bring us closer together.