December 17, 2018
Mapping Social Justice and AEIR scholars advocacy project in 2018-19
Mapping Social Justice and AEIR scholars advocacy team members

The Mapping Social Justice (MSJ) Project provides targeted advocacy and community engagement for our students, faculty and alumnae through email and social media alerts. It was developed in response to a long-standing challenge within the social work profession to bridge individual and systems change efforts. The Area of Emphasis in Immigrants and Refugees (AEIR), a scholarship and service focus for MSW students, prepares students to respond to the clinical needs of this growing, yet under-served, population. Bringing together the organized advocacy and population expertise of these two programs has created a whole truly greater than the sum of its parts.

This fall, in response to the high degree of scrutiny and challenges immigrants and refugees are facing, AEIR scholars embraced the need for greater and broader action. MSJ could offer the advocacy training and skill-building for scholars to grow in their advocacy roles, and the scholars brought their knowledge of the deep challenges immigrants and refugees are facing politically, socially and emotionally. Kathleen Roche, who bridges both MSJ and AEIR, along with faculty liaison Lisa Kiesel, provided a training on Nov. 1 for scholars to build skills for sharing of information and planning action. In this process the group created an actionable alert regarding the “public charge” proposed rule that could impact immigrants.

“Collaborating with MSJ this year has challenged me to constantly think as an advocate,” third-year scholar Brittany Leitch said. “Now, when I hear about policies or news that affect the people I will serve in my practice, I ask myself, ‘how can this be turned into an advocacy opportunity?’ Sending out our first action alert through MSJ was empowering. I felt like we were fighting back and making a difference. Our alert made it easy for people to act on the issue at hand, and I also knew our alert was landing on receptive and interested eyes because of MSJ’s well-built network.”

Scholars will continue to share information and generate alerts to maintain their advocacy. Based on this success, MSJ is eager to further collaborate with other scholar programs focused on healthcare, aging, military, rural and underserved/underrepresented populations. For more information, check out MSJ on Facebook @SSWMappingSJ