The primary focus of the social justice committee is to make real and vibrant the social work profession’s commitments to social justice within the University of Washington School of Social Work doctoral program. We aim to demonstrate our commitments to social justice and deepen our awareness of our scholarly and professional social justice values within the context of the doctoral program through four main efforts:

  1. To advance a systematic and consistent approach to training doctoral students in social justice content and through a just pedagogy by interrogating multiple social justice theoretical frameworks.
  2. To cultivate an environment where shared commitments to social justice are reflected in student-student, faculty-student, and faculty-faculty relationships.
  3. To design and implement an annual social justice orientation for doctoral students and faculty that will foster curricular, classroom, and relational outcomes consistent with the doctoral program’s social justice commitments to serve as the foundation for an ongoing and inclusive conversation around social justice in our scholarly community.
  4. To promote avenues of advocacy and allyship with similar efforts in the larger School of Social Work and UW communities.

We strive to work in collaboration with, and in support of, other related efforts throughout the School of Social Work by promoting a high level of participation and involvement on the committee, from faculty as well as students, that ensures a diversity of perspectives on the questions and issues of social justice.


In response to a variety of concerns and commitments expressed over the years, and particularly during the 2008-2009 school year doctoral Town Hall meeting, in regard to the mission of the school and its relation to social justice, the PhD Steering Committee commissioned a social justice sub-committee in March of 2009.  The Student Representatives to the PhD Steering Committee, Eric Waithaka and Morna McEachern, joined the PhD Program Director, Gunnar Almgren, in forming the initial membership. These three members generated a call for other doctoral students and faculty to join the committee. The names of all student nominees were placed on a ballot such that two students from each of the three most recent incoming cohorts were selected by a vote of the doctoral student body.  As a result, the committee expanded to include: Amelia Derr, Quentin Smith, Mark Williams, Kimberly Hudson, Carrie Moylan, and Tony Garcia. In the Spring of 2009, the committee again expanded to ensure the representation of first year doctoral students and to include any doctoral student, faculty, or staff who wanted to participate.  Members joining in this way include Valerie Shapiro, Miriam Valdovinos, Sara Green, Charles Hoy-Ellis, and Roberto Gonzales.  The leadership of the committee is shared equally among committee members and membership is now open. 

The role of this committee is to investigate and recommend paths to achieve consistency between the emphasis on Social Justice articulated in the PhD Program’s statement of purpose and the PhD Program’s structure, processes, and outcomes. Social justice oriented groups, councils, and committees have a long history at the School of Social Work; this sub-committee places itself along a stream of tradition, honoring and continuing the efforts and commitments of students and faculty that have provided such leadership over time.