Award: Field Education/Practicum Excellence in Innovation Award

bethel-logo-vertical-color.jpgLocated in St. Paul, MN, Bethel University is situated near sites of notable acts of police violence and within a state grappling with pronounced opportunity disparities for Black and Brown communities. It is within this context that Bethel launched its justice-informed curriculum in fall 2021, marking a pivotal step in addressing systemic inequities. Subsequently, the department reimagined its field education program with a robust emphasis on an antiracist foundation.

Bethel’s Field Education program has significantly evolved, prioritizing ADEI. A standout initiative is the ADEI Social Work pre-practicum experience for junior BSW students, requiring 150 hours of community-engaged learning within BIPOC communities and supervised by individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. This initiative enhances cultural competence and fosters critical thinking and empathy among students, preparing them to navigate social work practice effectively.

In addition to programmatic innovation, Bethel University’s Field Education program has championed strategic initiatives aimed at promoting equity within the department. Securing a $50,000 Strategic Growth Grant underscores a commitment to promoting diversity in student enrollment and expanding BIPOC field practicum sites, deepening engagement with diverse communities. This enriches the educational experience and cultivates a justice-informed approach to social work practice.

Professional development for field supervisors remains a priority through initiatives like the Antiracist Supervision Training Series and the Human Experience Speaker Series. These platforms provide critical insights into inclusive supervision practices and facilitate broader discussions on societal challenges, empowering field instructors to effectively mentor students in justice-informed social work.

Faculty and students actively demonstrate solidarity with racially and ethnically diverse communities by engaging in advocacy efforts that include participation in legislative hearings, community protests, and national conferences. This active engagement underscores the department’s commitment to bridging theory with practice and advocating for marginalized populations, reflecting a dedication to social justice in action.

The Department of Social Work’s dedication to excellence in field education is further underscored through an innovative pursuit of anti-racist assessment and research. Looking forward, Bethel humbly acknowledges the ongoing work needed to achieve these goals. As we continue to evolve, our commitment to equity, inclusion, and justice remains steadfast. Bethel University’s Department of Social Work strives for excellence, preparing social workers to make a meaningful impact in diverse and challenging social environments.