SWM-013: 5 Cool Things in Fall 2014, with Dean Jeanette Takamura

November 12, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

Social Work Matters podcast coverIn this podcast, Dean Jeanette Takamura talks about all the “cool things” going on at the Columbia School of Social Work this fall—everything from the launch of an online campus to the pride she takes in the achievements of CSSW students. She also mentions the poverty research led by a team of faculty members that has been making waves in the press; and she fills us in what the School is doing in two areas that require greater input from the social work community: criminal justice and military/veteran’s social work. As one might expect, Jeanette’s enthusiasm for the School is infectious. She has a way of making you see just how much social work matters. Perhaps that’s why we’re so pleased that by the end of the conversation, we managed to capture a few “cool things” about her!



  • #1 is the groundbreaking work being performed by Professors Garfinkel, Waldfogel, and Kaushal, along with research scientist Christopher Wimer and post-doc Liana Fox, on measuring the impact of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. The findings of their study have been featured in countless news publications and to this day are being discussed in the corridors of power in Washington. Jeanette explains why their work is so important.
  • #2 is the School’s launching of an online campus in September, offering the opportunity for residents of select areas in the United States to earn an MSSW degree without having to come to New York City. Jeanette explains why these areas were selected and what the program aims to achieve.
  • #3 is the School’s plans to build up Military Social Work as an area of study. Jeanette highlights the contribution being made by Professor Katherine Shear to the field and also speaks of Professor Steven Schinke’s efforts to design an online course on this topic. (Professor Schinke is an Army veteran.) She further mentions the School’s Military Social Work Caucus, which is being led by Craig Theisen (MS’15), an Air Force veteran, along with Elizabeth Ramirez.
  • #4 is the School’s incubation of a criminal justice initiative, which seeks to foster ties between academe and members of the criminal justice community, many of whom were formerly incarcerated. The first seeds of the initiative were sewn by the Criminal Justice Student Caucus, which to this day sponsors an annual criminal justice conference, called “Beyond the Bars,” for the entire Columbia University community. The initiative began moving campus wide in Spring 2013 and was launched as the  has now moved campus wide thanks to a partnership with Columbia psychology professor Geraldine Downey as well as funding support from the Tow Foundation. The campus-wide program, called the Center for Justice, works across disciplines in collaboration with the community to reduce the United States’ reliance on incarceration and to advance alternative approaches.
  • #5 are all the dynamic activities students are up to. Jeanette teaches a class on the federal government and is happy to see so many policy students interning in Washington, D.C., many of them as part of the Fisher-Cummings Washington Fellow Program, started up by a generous gift from Marjorie S. Fisher and her daughter, Julie F. Cummings (MS’11). She says she also has international students in her class, many of whom go back to their home countries to build up social services. She further mentions all the American students who are making a difference internationally (some have even started up their own international organizations).
  • A Few Cool Things about Jeanette: At the end of the podcast, Jeanette answers following questions (please listen to find out the answers!):
  1. What do you do for self-care?
  2. What you miss about Hawaii while living in New York City?
  3. Do you think President Obama was trying to bring the “aloha spirit” to Washington? (One Extremely Cool Thing about Jeanette is that she served as Assistant Secretary of Aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Secretary Donna Shalala, so is intimately familiar with the policymaking process in Washington.)