The ISUSW 22 hosted by the Department of Social Welfare within the Luskin School of Public Affairs of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) aims to create a space of collective inquiry where participants learn from community-engaged scholarship, advocacy and activism to advance social justice in the most marginalized communities at local and global scales. We are planning the ISUSW 22 convening to be held in-person; however, we also ask prospective participants to plan for a re-platforming to a virtual conference context if necessary.
Drawing on Freire’s (1970) concept of conscientizaçāo, we define activism as the space where critical consciousness building meets social justice action. In other words, we emphasize the process through which activism happens to effect social change. At this political moment of deepening racial, social, gender and economic injustice globally, we look forward to engaging in dialogue during the ISUSW space regarding the relationship between social work and social justice and the role that community-driven activism plays in justice-seeking activities led by social work practitioners and researchers.
We also are interested in research on best practices of community engagement in the ‘contact zones’ within which justice-seekers are immersed during their daily advocacy and activism work. Drawing from participatory action research (PAR) theory, we define these contact zones or spaces of community engagement as spaces of “human interaction across power differences” (Torre & Fine et al 2008: 24-25; Torre 2006; Torre 2009). In other words, we are interested in how community engagement unfolds in these spaces and how researchers have developed meaningful community engagement praxis (Chatterton 2006). Within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also interested in how these praxis of community engagement and activism have shifted and reconfigured.
At the convergence of the fields of social work, urban planning, and policymaking, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs identifies and develops emerging areas of research and teaching, cultivating true leaders who advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Located in the vibrant and diverse city of Los Angeles, UCLA Luskin is a living laboratory that engages with communities around the block and around the world. Innovative scholarship and real-world field education prepare our graduates to effect change as practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin advances knowledge, practice, and policy for a just and equitable society.
Located within one of the world’s top public universities and the interdisciplinary Luskin School of Public Affairs, Social Welfare at UCLA leads in the pursuit of social and economic justice, the improvement of health and mental health across the lifespan, and the advancement of child and family well-being. We demonstrate our commitment to this mission by educating leaders and change agents to tackle society’s most pressing social issues, producing knowledge to inform social policy and practice, and partnering with communities and agencies in Los Angeles and across the globe.