CSSW Makes an Impact at the Society for Social Work and Research Conference

February 15 @ 9:56 pm

Rigorous research for social justice, collaboration, and evidence-based practice are just a few of the shared values that The Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) seeks to uplift within their organization and field of social work at large. Last month, members of the Columbia School of Social Work community had the honor of attending SSWR’s 28th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference offers various workshops, symposiums, and more to further advance the vision of SSWR: “disseminating and translating research that addresses issues of social work practice and policy and promoting a diverse, just, and equitable society.”

The SSWR Conference is an opportune time for faculty to share their research with a broader  audience. CSSW’s Dr. Charles H. Lea III and Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn left a lasting impact on this year’s conference – their leadership, veracity, and commitment to social justice is evident within their work. 

Dr. Charles H. Lea III, Assistant Professor of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center, co-facilitates a special interest group (SIG) meeting each year for the Promote Smart Decarceration (PSD) Grand Challenge for Social Work (GCSW). This year’s session focused on ways to further incorporate abolition into social work, ultimately addressing the myriad impacts of mass incarceration on individuals and communities that have historically been pushed to the margins. Dr. Lea’s research is in direct alignment with this initiative, as his goal is to “abolish systems of surveillance and punishment that disproportionately impact Black individuals and communities, especially emerging adult Black men.”  

Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn, Associate Professor of Social Work and Special Advisor to the Dean, was selected to present this year’s 2024 Aaron Rosen Lecture. In honor of Dr. Aaron Rosen, lecturers are chosen based upon an accumulated body of significant and innovative scholarship relevant to practice. Dr. Cogburn’s presentation, “We Are More Than Now + This: The Critical Role of Imagination for Liberation, Health and Aliveness,” presents a groundbreaking exploration of virtual reality’s role in understanding racial experiences and oppression. She challenges the status quo by bringing the concept of “untethered imagination” to the conversation, urging her audience to imagine “freedom and aliveness as it relates to Blackness,” entirely separate from whiteness, and how that in and of itself is a revolutionary act. 

Aside from formal presentations and research opportunities, SSWR provides supportive spaces to connect with a vast network of individuals from various backgrounds. To welcome folks to the conference, CSSW hosted a reception of about 60 people, including Dean Melissa Begg, Associate Dean Linara Davidson Greenidge, Gregory Jones, director  of development , Jennifer March, associate director of Alumni Relations, as well as faculty, students, and alumni. Opportunities to build relationships with those who challenge us and help us grow both personally and professionally are abundant at SSWR. It is this kind of community building that makes social workers stand out in their ability to foster meaningful connections and advocate for one another in their research and beyond.