This year’s Diversity Program/Practicum Seminar focused on topical issues in response to the crisis in the Middle East. On Friday, Jan. 19, more than 300 SSW students, faculty, and staff tuned into the presentation, “Understanding Islamophobia and Antisemitism.” Moderated by Carlton Jones, director of the Office of Student and Academic Services, the seminar featured two expert panelists:
- Meira Neggaz, Executive Director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding
- Jill Jacobs, Education Strategist for the Improving the Campus Climate Initiative at the Academic Engagement Network
In introducing the seminar, Jones explained that the purpose of the Diversity Seminar is to bring together students, faculty and staff to discuss topics that are important for not only our SSW community but also to those we serve in and outside of the University.
“The value of the Diversity Seminar lies in having students, faculty, and staff at the UConn School of Social Work challenge their own thoughts and beliefs on certain topics. It is a way to engage in healthy and constructive dialogue to bring about changes to our community and the world,” he said.
Before introducing the panelists, Dean Laura Curran said that the goal of the Seminar was “to address pressing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. This year we’re devoting the seminar to Islamophobia and Antisemitism given the steep rise in both.” She also shared that in discussions following the presentations, the School community would consider how to best address the issues as social workers.
Each panelist shared a presentation about their area of expertise. They provided facts about the Muslim and Jewish populations in the United States, definitions of Islamophobia and Antisemitism, as well as examples of how these forms of bigotry have been expressed since the war in Gaza began in October 2023.
Each of their presentations was followed by a Q&A period. Members of the SSW community were encouraged to contact the panelists if they had further questions.
Diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism (DEI-AR) is a key component of the SSW’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, and a theme that runs through all of the other focal areas, which include inclusive and impactful research and scholarship; student-centered teaching and learning; flexible and forward-looking field education; and emerging areas of excellence in social work.