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Br J Soc Work. 2016 Jun;46(4):890-905. Epub 2015 Apr 14.

Towards a Human Rights Culture in Social Work Education.

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1
University of Connecticut School of Social Work, West Hartford, CT 06117, USA.

Abstract

A human rights perspective must be embedded in the institutions, organisations or agencies where social work students find themselves. This paper will focus on one particular strategy that could be helpful to the process of solidifying a commitment to human rights for our students. Using a pedagogical tool from a school of social work in the USA originally developed to combat the social injustice of racism, the example transcends the academic institution and offers a solid link in connecting human rights, social justice and social work. Using the construct of critical realism, we argue that, for social work programmes to take steps towards an explicit commitment to human rights, not only must human rights be infused throughout the curriculum, but educators must provide opportunities for making more overt the links between human rights principles, social justice and social work. By addressing behaviours, tendencies and attitudes, students then acquire not only the skills and deeper understanding, but they internalise the motivation and commitment to broaden their human rights frame. In the process of developing a more firm commitment to human rights, we must not be limited to the walls of the academy, but rather extend beyond to our field agencies, organisations and communities.

KEYWORDS:

Human rights; anti-racism; critical realism; pedagogy; social justice

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