David S. Byers, MSW, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Director of the MSW Program

David S. Byers (he/him/his) is Associate Professor and Director of the MSW Program at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. David’s research focuses on community and clinical ethics, especially related to care and allyship in settings of precarity and stigma. His work examines the ethical claims embedded in both informal helping responses and professionalized, clinically oriented care work. In the case of peer-based helping, he studies why and how adolescents and emerging adults try to support peers facing bias-based bullying and cyberbullying — and why they don’t. In the clinical realm, his research explores the ethical frameworks and improvisational tactics of front-line clinicians organizing in “clinical activism” for devalued and stigmatized care work. Across these projects, David’s scholarship works to inform and localize translational research with critical focus on the ethical experiences of direct care.

He has published on these topics in the journals Social Service Review, American PsychologistJournal of Diversity in Higher Education, and Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, among others. He has also written guest essays for The New York Times, Slate, and Time related to queer and trans affirmative social work and psychotherapy.

David completed his BA in literature at Sarah Lawrence College, MSW at New York University, and Ph.D. at Smith. He was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University. Prior to joining UConn, David served on the faculty of Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. In spring 2024, he will be a Visitor at the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton to develop a new book project on the history of queer and trans affirmative clinics.

David has more than a decade of direct practice experience as a licensed clinical social worker and supervisor. He also serves as Chair of the Ethics Track for the CSWE Annual Program Meeting.


Research Interests

Care and community ethics
Queer and trans affirmative practice
Translational research and localization
Clinical practice with adolescents and emerging adults
History of social work
International social work


Select Publications

Kumaria, S., Byers, D. S., McCarthy, K., & Moedano, C. (2023). Social identity as a factor in bystander responses to bias-based verbal aggression among college students. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma. https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2023.2204844

Byers, D. S., Fareed, A., & Hreish, K. (2022). The vernacular ethics of stigmatized care: Reinterpreting acceptance and confidentiality for social work in the West Bank, Palestine. Social Service Review, 96(1), 73-109.  https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/718581

Byers, D. S. & Cerulli, M. (2021). Staying in their own lane: Ethical reasoning among college students witnessing cyberbullying. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 14(4), 508-518. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000180

Byers, D. S., Vider, S., Smith, E. (2019). Clinical activism in community-based practice: The case of LGBT affirmative care at the Eromin Center, Philadelphia, 1973-1984. American Psychologist, 74(8), 868-881. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000523


View David S. Byer’s CV

Associate Professor David Byers headshot
Contact Information
Phone(959) 200-3635
Office LocationRoom 307 HSSW