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“[I]f we’re talking about why do we need to decolonize schools of social work, we are increasingly teaching future social workers to help our clients put Band-Aids on their situations, right, to advocate for them to deal with these oppressive systems and structures that they live in, right? Where is the advocacy for dismantling these harmful systems of oppression beyond voting? You know, how can we get social work to actually focus on dismantling these systems of oppression instead of helping our clients cope with them? That’s really the question.”

Dr. Autumn Asher BlackDeer

Assuming we all are familiar with the history and lasting legacy of settler colonialism (and genocide) of Indigenous Peoples….

If we exist in a society that reflects colonialism, we accept that system permeates education, higher education and specifically schools of Social Work. Schools of Social Work are the institutions that create research, serve the communities that encompass them and prepare and socialize scholars and practitioners alike. So for starters, why do we need to and how do we decolonize the Social Work Academy?


Autumn Asher BlackDeer Phd, MSW has thoughts and she is not reluctant to share them. In an engaging and powerful way, Dr. BlackDeer will offer a practical and realistic path forward.

Dr. Autumn Asher BlackDeer is a queer decolonial scholar from the Southern Cheyenne Nation and serves as an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. Her scholarship illuminates the impact of structural violence on American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Dr. BlackDeer centers Indigenous voices throughout her research by using quantitative approaches and big data as tools for responsible storytelling. Dr. BlackDeer is a racial equity scholar with an emphasis on Indigenous tribal sovereignty and is deeply committed to decolonizing the academy.

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