Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality
GSSW faculty and students present equity-related research at SSWR international research conference
More than 2,000 social work scholars gathered recently in Washington, DC, to share research and celebrate scholarship related to reducing racial and economic inequality. The 2020 Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) annual conference Jan. 15–19 brought together scholars from around the world — including almost three dozen University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) faculty members, doctoral students and research staff members — who presented nearly 50 invited sessions and posters on a wide variety of topics.
“Equity is central to our work at GSSW, and I’m excited to see that extended to our research and scholarship,” says GSSW Dean and SSWR Vice President-Elect Amanda Moore McBride, who will chair the 2021 SSWR conference. As a member of the SSWR Board of Directors, McBride co-authored an open letter to Congress, calling on lawmakers to prioritize science-informed action to improve the human condition. “Economic and racial inequality are the two fundamental barriers that must be addressed across all issues of concern, whether it be immigration, housing and homelessness, criminal justice reform, heath care, job training, or climate change,” the board wrote.
GSSW Alumna Antonia Alvarez, PhD ’19, received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation on “Historical Loss and Suicide Risk Between and Among Native Hawaiians: Exploring a Historical-Trauma Informed Approach to Suicide Prevention.” Alvarez is an assistant professor at the Portland State University School of Social Work.
Also at the conference, GSSW Professor and Co-Associate Dean for Doctoral Education Kimberly Bender was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, joining Professors Jeffrey Jenson (inducted in 2010) and Lena Lundgren (inducted in 2016) as one of the nation’s premier social work scholars and practitioners.
Public Impact Scholarship
Bender offered a pre-conference workshop on “Becoming a Brief and Brilliant Speaker: Communicating Your Work for Impact with a Public Audience” and moderated the conference’s Brief & Brilliant presentation session — sponsored by GSSW — in which leading social work scholars engaged the audience through TEDx-style talks using images, storytelling and media. Each speaker completed the statement “I dream a world … ,” sharing the most important ideas facing social work research and practice. Speakers included GSSW Associate Professor Ramona Beltrán; Judy Krysik, Arizona State University; Mark Rank, Washington University of St. Louis; Tina Sacks, University of California, Berkeley; Anna Ortega-Williams, Hunter College; and William Frey, Columbia University.
Assistant Professor Shannon Sliva and Associate Professor Jennifer Greenfield led a standing-room-only workshop on public impact scholarship, “Disseminating Research to Influence Policy and Practice,” building on the 2019 special section they edited in the Journal of the Society of Social Work and Research.
Advancing Social Work Education and Research
Jenson — outgoing editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Society of Social Work and Research — hosted a panel on publishing research in peer-reviewed journals. He was recognized at the conference for his role in helping to establish the highly ranked journal and his four years of service as editor-in-chief.
Professor Daniel Brisson, executive director of GSSW’s Center on Housing and Homelessness Research, presented on “The Role of Community-Engaged Research in Advancing the Science on Racial and Economic Inequality.” Professor Heather Taussig presented “Challenges and Solutions for Building Effective Faculty Research in Research-Emerging and Research-Intensive Universities,” and Bender and PhD student Jennifer Wilson presented a special session on reimagining social work research and doctoral training using futures frameworks and human-centered design.
Bender and Assistant Professor Anamika Barman Adhikari presented two sessions related to youth experiencing homelessness, and Barman Adhikari and Assistant Professor Anthony Fulginiti presented “Sexual Health Communication Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness and Their Social Network Members: An Egocentric Network Analysis.” Brisson and Wilson shared their findings on individual and neighborhood impacts of tiny home communities for people experiencing homelessness.
Improving Outcomes for Youth
Professor Jennifer Bellamy presented sessions on “Understanding Nonresident Fathers’ Ability to Pay Child Support” and “Understanding Early Father Involvement,” and Associate Professor Inna Altschul shared “Mothers’ and Fathers’ Pregnancy Intentions and Father Involvement at 36 Months.” Altschul and PhD student In Young Park also presented their research on reciprocal relationships between co-parenting and father involvement among low-income couples. Taussig discussed mentoring relationships for teens with child welfare involvement, and Bender and Barman Adhikari shared strategies to improve mental health outcomes in children and adolescents. Fulginiti presented sessions on suicidal behaviors and suicide prevention, as well as youth suicide prevention and intervention, and he and PhD student Jarrod Call presented “Social Support and Suicide Attempts Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness.”
In addition, Research Associate Professors Shauna Rienks and Robin Leake, along with GSSW Butler Institute for Families Research Assistant Amy Grenier, presented “360-Degree Feedback and Coaching for Successful Leadership Development in Child Welfare.”
Improving Equity in Health and Behavioral Health
Assistant Professor Miriam Valdovinos presented “Exploring Exclusionary and Fragmented Healthcare Access for Undocumented Women Immigrant Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence.” Doctoral student Rachel Speer discussed research conducted with Professor Eugene Walls on the health and health care experiences of trans and non-binary individuals, and Assistant Professor Donny Gerke presented on “Violence, Mental Health Problems, and Substance Use: Relationships to in HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors in Black and White Young Men Who Have Sex with Men.”
In related research, Call discussed his qualitative study of masculine expectations among gay men, and he and fellow PhD student Brittanie Atteberry Ash presented “Depression and Suicide Risk at the Cross-Section of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for High School Youth.”
Addressing Equity in the Criminal Justice System
Sliva discussed social work’s role in transforming the criminal legal system, Associate Professor Leslie Hasche presented on elder abuse and exploitation, and PhD student Ceema Samimi presented her work using propensity score matching to predict who receives restorative practices.
Faculty and graduate students also presented 17 e-poster sessions, including a presentation on “Human Centered Design as Community-Engaged Research and Social Innovation in Social Work” by Wilson, Bender, McBride, Jonah DeChants, PhD ’19, and Ellie Adelman, MSW ’19.
Faculty facilitated several special-interest groups (SIGs) as well. Bellamy hosted the father-related research meeting, and Jenson hosted a meeting of the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health, an initiative of the Grand Challenge to Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth. Jenson and Bender also presented a progress report on that grand challenge.
With Jenson on guitar and vocals, The Friendly Visitors band played the President’s Reception — a tradition at SSWR conferences.