MSW Program Guiding Principles

  1. Honoring the First Peoples. We honor the resilience and thriving of the Coast Salish peoples and cultures of the place where we learn and study at the SSW. We acknowledge the genocide, removal of Native peoples from their lands, families, and livelihoods, and historical and ongoing trauma and collective losses due to settler colonialism experienced by Indigenous and Native peoples in our region and around the globe. We also acknowledge that Indigenous peoples and communities have been intentionally excluded from and denied the opportunities afforded by institutions of higher education due to prejudice, discrimination, and racism rooted in white supremacy. The MSW program is dedicated to increasing the diversity and inclusion of Indigenous and Native students as valued members of our social work community. We also commit to concrete social actions and practices which restore and honor the sacred cultural places and traditions of First Peoples wherever we are stewards and guests.

  2. Centering Actions to End White Supremacy and Racism. We center and commit to learning about and taking action to end white supremacy with its historical roots in creating and perpetuating structural racism at all levels of society. We shall be accountable to speak out and act against all forms of oppression, particularly at the intersection of identities, communities, and spaces. Whether as micro-aggressions in our interpersonal interactions or within institutional structures and public policies that promote and maintain inequitable treatment against Black and other marginalized communities, we will hold justice and freedom as core guides for our commitments and conduct.

  3. Working for Diversity, inclusion, Equity and Justice. Anti-Black racism is the primary historical and structural objective and manifestation of white supremacy. However, white supremacy co-exists with other forms of institutional power targeted against Indigenous and Native people, people of color, women, non-binary gendered persons, LGBQ, trans, disabled, immigrant, poor, UWSSW MSW Mission, Goals, Principles 6/15/22 4 older adults, children and youth, and those with other socially marginalized identities and their communities. We join with racial and social justice advocates and movements to act for racial equity, freedom, and safety for those at the margins of society. We also acknowledge that our living environment – the earth, skies, oceans, animals, plants, air - is endangered for our current generation and for seven generations to come. Preserving our natural resources is critically related to our commitment to racial justice, as we understand that environmental racism is cause and consequence of marginalizing those communities who are most vulnerable to the effects of ecological degradation, toxic hazards, and physical and cultural displacement. Environmental justice shall be incorporated into the knowledge and practice expectations of the MSW Program to assure current and future social workers act in collective consciousness to protect and restore our natural environment.

  4. Acknowledging Intersectionality. People, communities, institutions, and structures exist in multiple, intersecting dimensions. We recognize that we all live with simultaneously intersecting and sometimes conflicting identities, statuses, ideologies, and power. We commit ourselves to actively working against all forms of structural and interpersonal oppression as they create and maintain matrices of domination. 

  5. Valuing Communities and Interactions of Care. We are committed to an educational program that personifies a community ethic of care, respect, mutual regard, and accountability to ourselves, to each other, and to the programs and communities of the SSW. We will engage our conflicts and differences in a spirit of compassion and reconciliation through processes and 1 Collins, P. H. (2000) Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge. UWSSW MSW Mission, Goals, Principles 6/15/22 5 practices aimed towards accountability, healing, and restoring well-being in our relationships.

  6. Respecting Different Ways of Knowing. As a place of learning, we celebrate the many different ways of teaching, learning, and generating knowledge. We acknowledge that there are ways of knowing and truth-telling that are not only enabled through the mind and intellect, but are embodied, instinctual, emotional, and spiritual. We acknowledge storytelling, lived experience, literary expression, practice-based knowledge, embodied mindfulness, and the diversity of pedagogies and research methods that contribute to deep and meaningful learning and teaching. We shall establish an educational environment with our students and faculty as co-learners dedicated to shared knowledge and practices that prepare students to become engaged and committed social workers, and that enhance culturally relevant, pedagogically innovative, and rigorous scholarship among our faculty.

  7. Practicing Critical Thinking and Reflexivity about Our Profession. We are dedicated to critical thinking and reflexivity as a foundation of lifelong learning as social workers. This commitment requires authentic reflection upon our professional ethics, roles, responsibilities, and expectations as anti-racist, social change agents. This mode of self-reflection will focus on enhancing the selfdetermination, liberatory potentials, human rights, quality of life, and social welfare of those we are tasked to serve, particularly those from historically marginalized communities. Through this reflexive mode, we will also examine both the constraints and aspirations of social workers and the social work profession as agents for social change.