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Episode 273 - Ashley Davis and Rebecca Mirick: Only liberal views welcome? Experiences of conservative students in BSW education

Monday, October 21, 2019, 7:56:04 AM

Image of Ashley Davis, PhD, MSW and Rebecca Mirick, PhD, LICSW

In this episode, our guests Dr. Ashley Davis and Dr. Rebecca G. Mirick discuss the dynamics of power and privilege in relation to teaching and social work education, with an emphasis on the experiences of conservative students. They describe their research involving students’ perceptions of microaggressions within classroom, and provide compelling examples of how conservative students have experienced marginalization. Strategies for creating a more inclusive and affirmative learning environment are considered.

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Average Rating: 4.5 stars (6 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  a much needed conversation, Monday, February 10, 2020

By Michelle Melton :

As a conservative student, I can attest to what the presenters described in their research regarding students who hold particular religious and/or political views within the social work realm. I did not attend a BSW program, however, my academic education consists of community college, a bachelor's in psychology from a high-ranking liberal university and currently, I am a graduate student pursuing my MSW. I understand that the presenters did not originally seek out the experiences of students possessing conservative views, however, I am thankful that they stumbled upon these findings as I feel this podcast gave students such as myself a voice. The statistics that the presenters pointed out: 29.8% of conservative students felt devalued, demeaned and stereotyped compared to 18.6% of non-conservative students, reignited with me. It showed me that I am not alone in feeling those things about certain classroom settings I have been a part of and I think it reveals ways in which faculty, programs, and institutions can improve their culture. Because of their research findings, the presenters shared how this study has caused them to examine their teaching styles to determine if what they are presenting comes across as inclusive for all students in their classroom. I appreciated her application of research to practice as this demonstrates how research can be utilized in real-world situations. Additionally, this type of teaching is reflective of trauma-informed service delivery and it is great to see that methodology being utilized outside of a therapeutic setting. I sincerely enjoyed Peter Sobota, LCSW perspective as a professor and his suggestions of how faculty can utilize these findings in the classroom. His conviction to be more vulnerable with students was refreshing to me as a student and I hope that this podcast will set the standard for how professors can better create an inclusive environment for all students.

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Average Rating: 4stars  a trauma-informed approach towards a minority opinion, Sunday, February 09, 2020

By Eric Ruest :

This podcast meritoriously indicates a major hypocrisy in social work education: the lack of a trauma-informed perspective when considering the political and religious views of students. Drs. Davis and Mirick point out that a liberal worldview certainly more naturally parallels the understood worldview of the social work community, specifically the NASW Code of Ethics, but that the assumption that students in the classroom all share that worldview only serves to silence the voices of dissention, which is antithetical to social work values.

The topic of their research came about organically, which gives it more validity. A study of the most common microaggressions against those in a BSW program across the country showed a surprising percentage of Christian and conservative students feeling as though their views were unwelcome in the classroom. I fear I may have been guilty recently of doing this, of painting the conservative thought process with a wide brush. Whereas my comments were an acknowledged generalization based on solid research, it was construed by a classmate as invalidation of his views. Though that was not my intent, that’s how he took it, and isn’t that what a microaggression is?

I wanted to hear more about where Drs, Davis and Mirick stand on where the balance is between standing up for the liberal values held by the majority of social workers, while validating those ideas that are less compatible with one’s own. I suppose that’s the topic for future research.

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Average Rating: 5stars  a liberal really enjoyed this episode!, Thursday, February 06, 2020

By Marissa Biondolillo :

In social work, we have to be constantly on the look out for our blind spots and I'm very grateful that this episode revealed one of mine. I could not help but recognize as I listened to this episode that my liberal bias has a self-righteous way of blocking my ability to sympathize with conservatives. But as a social worker, I have an ethical responsibility to work past this bias in the same way I expect a conservative student who is not comfortable with LGBTQ persons to respect and listen to them anyway. I have definitely been in classes where the spoken or unspoken assumption was that every one was a liberal. Due to the institutional power of Conservatism (and Christianity more specifically), I hadn't considered how this would be experienced as a very real microaggression to the individual. Liberal social work students and faculty should not accept this from ourselves. Particularly considering how divisive the political climate is right now, learning how to talk through these things is something we desperately need. We can't silence these conversations, we can only grow as a country by having them. And if social workers can't figure out how to do that, then who can!? I sincerely thank you for this episode.

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Average Rating: 4stars  grateful, Thursday, January 30, 2020

By Melissa :

As a conservative Christian, I am grateful for this study. I have not personally experienced any microaggressions from my professors, but have from some of my fellow classmates. As future social workers, it is important that we are all mindful of our biases and realize that not everyone will have the same views. We will have clients who come from a variety of backgrounds to include religions. It is important to start practicing this in the classroom so that we better able to help our clients.


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Average Rating: 4stars  addressing shortcomings in diversity and inclusion, Thursday, October 31, 2019

By Vincent Noble :

I listened to this podcast a couple times through. I'm more of a classical liberal, though by today's standards in the media that makes me conservative I suppose. Regardless, this podcast brings up a unspoken rule in social work, more so it seems in college than the workplace. I've experienced what happens when diversity and inclusion go out the window when it comes to diversity of thought, multiple times. I'd like to thank the Ms. Davis, Ms. Mirick and Mr. Sobota for doing this podcast.


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Average Rating: 5stars  thank you, Wednesday, October 23, 2019

By Anonymous :

As an older conservative Christian Social Worker I was greatly encouraged by your courage in addressing this 'elephant' in the social work room. Disrespect and dishonor of another's authentic identity, culture and core beliefs is never right! Thank you for allowing your research to lead you to discover what so many of us experienced in our social work education -- and to allow this discovery to impact your professional roles as mentors and teachers of the next generation of social workers. It's a wonderful opportunity to broaden the discussion with those formerly silenced voices.

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