Social Work to Host Diversity Conference

Sessions to focus on developing skills and experiences for working with varied populations

OXFORD, Miss. – The Department of Social Work at the University of Mississippi will host its 2018 Diversity Conference on Thursday (Feb. 1) at the Jackson Avenue Center, Room H02. Community members and students from any major are welcome to attend the sessions, set for 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“The comprehensive elements of diversity encompass more than culture alone,” said Teresa Carithers, interim dean of applied sciences. “This event will focus closely on diversity’s role in effective social work practice.”

Desiree Stepteau-Watson, associate professor of social work, and Amy Fisher, assistant professor of social work, serve as co-chairs for the event.

“The goal of this conference is to further develop the knowledge, skills and experiences that students need and that are required for social work practice with diverse populations,” Stepteau-Watson said.

Jennifer Stollman, the university’s academic director for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, will serve as keynote speaker for the event, presenting “Using truth, bravery and compassion to heal the world.”

Stollman is responsible for campus professional development, anti-oppression training, curricular and co-curricular development, and crisis management and is a consultant for detecting and eliminating institutional and interpersonal bias.

She spent 18 years in graduate and undergraduate classrooms as a professor of history and gender and women’s studies. She specializes in issues related to the construction, projections and deployment of individual and collective identities. Stollman is committed to equity work taking place across college campuses.

“Dr. Stollman has long been a good friend to the social work department,” Fisher said. “Her insight into matters of racial equity and diversity is invaluable to our students. In addition, her dynamic speaking style really engages students and staff.”

Reginald Virgil, a social work student at the University of Southern Mississippi, is slated to kick off the day’s events with his presentation, “Keep Calm and Discuss Racism.” Na Youn Lee, UM assistant professor of social work, will discuss cultural humility. The conference will conclude with a group presentation by the Rust College Department of Social Work.

Students who want to practice in the field must have a respect for cultural differences, said Daphne Cain, UM chair of social work.

“Being culturally competent is essential to social work practice,” Cain said. “Paying attention to environmental forces, including race, class and gender, among others, that create, contribute to and can exasperate difficulties for individuals to thrive and cope is fundamental to social work.”

Interested participants should RSVP by emailing Lunch will be provided during the event, and social work students are strongly encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact the Department of Social Work at 662-915-7336.