School of Social Work

School of Social Work

September 14, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


NARRATOR: A warm spring evening finds the
University of Washington’s School of Social Work miles from campus hosting a free public
panel on emerging federal policies and the poor. JENNIFER ROMICH: One of the things we’ve done
is we’ve brought together speakers across a number of different topic areas. So housing, environment, labor standards and
worker’s rights, health care, tax policy. NARRATOR: The UW School is being singled out
for its modern approach to social work. The Center for World University Rankings has
named it best in the world for its practical research and practice of sharing it. JENNIFER ROMICH: We do a lot of original inquiry
into different types of social problems, possible interventions at different levels, kind of
understanding the world and understanding how social work can change the world and creating
evidence around that. NARRATOR: But it isn’t all about big data. Master’s candidate Taurmini Fentress says
field work and community-building are both still vital aspects of modern social work. TAURMINI FENTRESS: From the beginning, our
community partners are letting us know what’s important to them, and we can use our research
skills to really dig deeply into those questions, and hopefully provide some answers for them
that help them do the work that they do. ERIC AGYEMANG: We all have like different
situations where we feel shy. NARRATOR: Masters social work student Eric
Opoku Agyemang spends once a week at Seattle’s South Shore School. He teaches social and mental health skills
to sixth graders. ERIC AGYEMANG: Usually, if you meet someone
or you go into a social gathering for the first time, you can begin a conversation by
introducing yourself, right? NARRATOR: Eric is founder of a nonprofit in
Ghana that focuses on saving children from being trafficked and exploited, often for
labor in West Africa’s fishing industry. UW students have come to Ghana to help his
foundation. ERIC AGYEMANG: The School of Social Work is
one of the partner organizations that bring students on a study abroad to come and support
all projects back in Ghana. By helping us with interviews, by helping
us have one on one tutoring for the children that were returned from being trafficked,
and by even providing public health services the community members. NARRATOR: On his study abroad at the UW, Eric
is focusing on ways to influence public policy at home and expand his reach. ERIC AGYEMANG: My dream is that how can I
influence policies in the country to be able to address the root causes of child trafficking? NARRATOR: Taurmini is working as a research
assistant at the UW’s West Coast Poverty Center. One of the things she studies is how family
traumas, including being poor, can influence the next generation. TAURMINI FENTRESS: So we don’t want to do
research for research’s sake, but we’re hoping to make an impact within our communities. It’s a place that social work should be looking. I think that UW is certainly a leader in that.