Dismantling Structural Racism, Hate, and White Supremacy Through Course Assignments That Integrate Faith and Learning in Social Work Curriculum

Main Article Content

Daniel A. Boamah
Sharon D. Jones-Eversley
Dana K. Harmon
A. Christson Adedoyin
Kelsey Leann Burton
Sharon Sanders
Christopher A. Jones
Brittany J. Nwachuku
Sharon E. Moore


Integrating Faith and learning, social work curriculum, dismantling racism, course assignments


Recently, there has been a growing interest in the nexus of faith and the triumvirate of learning, practice, and research. Social work educators have not consistently challenged social work students to consider the importance of the constructs of faith, religiosity, and spirituality in their own learning and lives. The acknowledgment of racism as an unjust social construct is the essential social justice focus of this paper. The authors present an example of a course assignment that may be used to help students explore the significance and meaning of faith, equity, and spirituality in others and in their own lives. The Critical Race Theory (CRT) is used as a theoretical framework to discuss how educators can prepare students to have a generalist perspective that is humane and social justice driven. The ethical duty to acknowledge, explore, and teach students faith in the social work curriculum is a key aspect of the biopsychosocial-spiritual assessment. 




Abstract 116 |


Abdulla, M.R. (2018) Culture, religion, and freedom of religion or belief. The
Review of Faith & International Affairs, 16(4), 102-115.

Ackerman, J. S. (1966). The Rabbinic Interpretation of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John: John 10:34. The Harvard Theological Review, 59(2), 186 - 191. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816000009676

Arthur, J. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Secularism (P. Zuckerman & J. R. Shook , Ed.). Oxford University Press.

Baldacchino, D., & Draper, P. (2001). Spiritual coping strategies: A review of the nursing research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34(6), 833-841.

Bartoli, A., Kennedy, S., & Tedam, P. (2008). Practice learning: Who is failing to adjust? Black African student experience of practice learning in a social work setting. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 8, 75 –90. https://doi.org/10.1921/81134

Bartrum, I. (2008). The Political Origins of Secular Public Education: The New York School Controversy, 1840-1842. Scholarly Works. 615. https://scholars.law.unlv.edu/facpub/615

Bell, D. A. (1980). Brown v. Board of Education and the interest convergence dilemma. Harvard Law Review, 93, 518–533. https://doi.org/10.2307/1340546

Bernard, C., Fairtlough, A., Fletcher, J., & Ahmet, A. (2011). Diversity and progression among social work students in England. Goldsmiths University.

Bindewald, B. J., Sanatullova-Allison, E., & Hsiao, Y. L. (2017). Religion and Public Education in Pluralist, Democratic Societies: Some Lessons from the United States and Canada. Religion & Education, 44(2), 180-202.

Canda, E. R., & Furman, L. D. (2010). Spiritual diversity in social work practice: The heart of helping (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Caswell, M. (2017). Teaching to dismantle white supremacy in archives. The Library Quarterly, 87(3), 222-235. https://doi.org/10.1086/692299

Chibnall, S., Dutch, N. M., Jones-Harden, B., Brown, A., Gourdine, R., Smith, J., et al. (2003). Children of color in the child welfare system: Perspectives from the child welfare community. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau (Available from http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/otherpubs/ children/children.pdf)

Christianity (2020). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity

Chu, W. C., Tsui, M. S., & Yan, M. C. (2009). Social work as a moral and political
practice. International Social Work, 52(3), 287-298. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872808102064

Collins, W. L. (2005). Embracing spirituality as an element of professional self-care. Social
Work & Christianity, 32(3), 263-274.

Constance-Huggins, M. (2012). Critical Race Theory in Social Work Education: A Framework for Addressing Racial Disparities. Critical Social Work, 13(2), 1-16.

Cousineau, S.C. (2018). Faith, spirituality, and social work education: An exploration into the quest for integration. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (2015).
Alexandria, VA: Author. https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Standards-and-Policies/2015-

Cwikel, J. (1994). Social epidemiology: An integrative research and practice strategy applied to homelessness. Journal of Social Service Research, 19(1-2), 23-47. https://doi.org/10.1300/J079v19n01_02

Darrell, L., & Rich, T. (2017). Faith and field: The ethical inclusion of spirituality within the
pedagogy of social work. Field Educator, 7(1). Retrieved from http://www2.simmons.edu/ssw/fe/i/17-157.pdf

Dickson, C. (1995). The Hebrew terminology for the poor in Psalm 82. Hebrew Theological Studies, 51(4), 1029-1045. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v51i4.1457

Dombo, E.A., & Gray, C. (2013). Engaging spirituality in addressing vicarious trauma in clinical social workers: A self-care model. Social Work & Christianity, 40(1), 89-104.

Dyson, Y. D., del Mar Fariña, M., Gurrola, M. A., & Cross-Denny, B. (2020). Reconciliation as a framework for supporting racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in social work education. Social Work & Christianity, 47(1), 83–95. https://doi.org/10.34043/swc.v47i1.137

Garland, D. R. (2016). Why I am a social worker: Twenty-five Christians tell their life stories. North American Association for Christians in Social Work.

Garland, D.R. & Yancey, G.I. (2014). Congregational social work: Christian perspectives. North American Association of Christians in Social Work.

Gotanda, N. (1991). A critique of “Our constitution is color-blind.” Stanford Law Review, 44, 1–68. https://doi.org/ 10.2307/1228940

Greene, Aoife (2017) The Role of Self-Awareness and Reflection in Social Care Practice.Journal of Social Care. 1(3). doi:10.21427/D7614X https://arrow.tudublin.ie/jsoc/vol1/iss1/3

Griffith, D. M., Mason, M., Yonas, M., Eng, E., Jeffries, V., Plihcik, S., & Parks, B. (2007). Dismantling institutional racism: theory and action. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39(3-4), 381-392. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-007-9117-0

Harris, H., Yancey, G., Myers, D., Deimler, J., Walden, D. (2017). Ethical integration of faith
and practice in social work field education: A multi-year exploration in one program. Religions, 8, 177-190.

Harris, H.W., Yancey, G. I., Myers, D.R. (2016). Social work field education in and with congregations and religiously-affiliated organizations in a Christian context. Religions, 7, 52-64.

Harris, C. I. (1995). Whiteness as property. In K. Crenshaw, N. Gotanda, G. Peller, & K. Thomas (Eds.), Critical race theory: The key writings that formed the movement (pp. 357–383). The New Press.

Heiser, M. S. (2009). Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32: 8-9 and Psalm 82? HIPHIL Novum, 3(1), 1-9 https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/278

Hobgood, M. E. (2009). Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability (Revised, Updated). The Pilgrim Press.

Hutchinson, D. L. (2000). Out yet unseen: A racial critique of gay and lesbian legal theory and political discourse. In R. Del gado & J. Stefancic (Eds.), Critical race theory: The cutting edge (2nd ed., pp. 325–333).Temple University Press.

Jones-Eversley, S. D., & Dean, L. T. (2018). After 121 years, it’s time to recognize WEB Du Bois as a founding father of social epidemiology. The Journal of Negro Education, 87(3), 230-245. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7709/jnegroeducation.87.3.0230#metadata_info_tab_contents

Kolivoski, K. M., Weaver, A., & Constance-Huggins, M. (2014). Critical Race Theory: Opportunities for Application in Social Work Practice and Policy. Families in Society, 95(4), 269–276. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.2014.95.36

Marianetti-Leeper, S. (2020). Full circle: A qualitative and art-informed investigation into the experience of midlife transition for female art therapists. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 81(5-A).

Masocha, S. (2015). Reframing black social work students' experiences of teaching and learning. Social Work Education, 34(6), 636 - 649. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2015.1046429

McIntosh, P. (1998). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. In M. McGoldrick (Ed.), Re-visioning family therapy: Race, culture, and gender in clinical practice (p. 147– 152). The Guilford Press. (Reprinted from "Peace and Freedom," July/August 1989, pp. 10–12.

Merritt, D. R. (1965). Secular education as part of a strategy for Christian education. Journal of Christian Education, 3, 145-154.

Miller, K. M., Cahn, K., Anderson-Nathe, B., Cause, A. G., & Bender, R. (2013). Individual and systemic/structural bias in child welfare decision making: Implications for children and families of color. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1634–1642. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.07.002

Moberly, W. 1. (2020). Justice and the recognition of the true God: A reading of Psalm 82. Revue Biblique, 127(2), 215-236. https://doi.org/10.2143/RBI.127.2.3287570

Morgenstern, J. (1939). The mythological background of Psalm 82. Hebrew Union College Annual, 14, 29-126. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23503153

National Association of Social Work [NASW], (2017a), Code of Ethics: Core Values and Ethical Principles. https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2017b). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers.

Nylund, D. (2006). Critical multiculturalism, whiteness, and social work: Towards a more radical view of cultural competence. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 17(2), 27-42. https://doi.org/10.1300/J059v17n02_03

Ortiz, L., & Jani, J. (2010). Critical race theory: A transformational model for teaching diversity. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(2), 175-193. https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2010.200900070

Oxhandler, H. K., & Pargament, K. I. (2014). Social work practitioners’ integration of clients’ religion and spirituality in practice: A literature review. Social Work, 59, 271–279.

Oxhandler, H.K., Polson, E.C. & Achenbaum, W. A. (2018). The religiosity and spiritual beliefs and practices of clinical social workers: A nation survey. Social Work, 63(1), 47-56.

Oxhandler, H. K., & Giardina, T. D. (2017). Social workers' perceived barriers to and sources of support for integrating clients' religion and spirituality in practice. Social Work, 62(4), 323-332.

Peterson, M. (2001) With All Your Mind: A Christian Philosophy of Education. University of Notre Dame Press.

Seitz, Jr., CR. (2014) Utilizing a spiritual disciplines framework for faith integration in social work: A competency-based model. Social Work and Christianity. 41(4), 334-354.

Sherwood, D. (2016). Doing the Right Thing: A Christian Perspective on Ethical Decision-Making in Social Work Practice. In T. L. Scales, M.S. Kelly (Eds.) Christianity and social work: Readings on the integration of Christian faith and social work practice (5th ed., pp.123-150). North American Association of Christians in Social Work.

Solorzano, D. G., & Bernal, D. D. (2001). Examining Transformational Resistance Through a Critical Race and Latcrit Theory Framework: Chicana and Chicano Students in an Urban Context. Urban Education, 36(3), 308–342. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085901363002

Stefon, M. (2011). Christianity: History, belief, and practice. Britannica Educational Publishing.

Stueve, A., & Link, B. G. (1998). Gender differences in the relationship between mental illness and violence: evidence from a community-based epidemiological study in Israel. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 33(1), S61-S67. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001270050211

Sue. D. W., Rasheed, M. N. & Rasheed, J. M. (2016). Multicultural social work practice: A competency-based approach to diversity and social justice. (2nd Edition), John Wiley and Sons.

Taylor, D., Van Zandt, C., & Menjares, P. (2013). Developing Culturally Competent Faculty: A Cognitive, Affective, and Spiritual Model. Christian Higher Education, 12(1/2), 110-121.https://doi.org/10.1080/15363759.2013.741455

Tedam, P. (2012). Using culturally relevant case studies to enhance students’ learning: A reflective analysis of the benefits and challenges for social work students and academics. Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 27, 383–398. https://doi.org/10.14234/elehe.v4i1

Temperman, J. (2010). State neutrality in public school education: An analysis of the interplay between the neutrality principle, the right to adequate education, children's right to freedom of religion or belief, parental liberties, and the position of teachers. Human Rights Quarterly, 32, 865.

The North American Association of Christians in Social Work. (2020). Mission & Christian Identity. https://www.nacsw.org/about-nacsw/mission/
Tolliver, D. E., & Tisdell, E. J. (2006). Engaging Spirituality in the Transformative Higher Education Classroom. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 2006(109), 37-47. https://doi.org/10.1002/ace.206

Yerby, W. E. (1989). Toward religious neutrality in the public-school curriculum. The University of Chicago Law Review, 56(2), 899-934.

Yun, K., Kim, S., & Awasu, C.(2019). Stress and the impact of spirituality as a mediator of coping methods among social work college students. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. 29(1), 125-136. DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2018.1491918