The Intrepid Elective

Transforming Potential for Consciousness to Action in and With Social Work Education


  • Alexis Jemal Silberman School of Social Work
  • Jenna Frasier Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College



Critical consciousness, White supremacy, social work education, elective


The field of social work has a professional and ethical commitment to social justice. However, scholars have identified potential dangers that may threaten that commitment. To transform dangers into opportunities that strengthen social justice service, schools of social work could incorporate critical pedagogy within the Master of Social Work (MSW) curriculum. By training future social workers in critical social work practice, social work education becomes an advocate for marginalized populations. If not educated from an anti-oppressive framework, social workers have the potential to harm, oppress, and control rather than support and serve. The weight of this responsibility and firsthand social work education experiences led to the development and implementation of an elective course in critical social work informed by the Critical Transformative Potential Development (CTPD) Framework. The course follows a method that puts the CTPD theory into practice to bridge the micro-macro divide by engaging students in actively dismantling ideologies and practices of dominance. The course aims to produce anti-oppressive social workers who can better navigate social justice terrain. A student’s perspective on the course highlights strengths and areas for improvement. Future iterations of this class or similar courses of study could be adapted by and adopted for other social work education institutions. Because social work education is fertile ground to plant seeds that will grow social workers rooted in anti-racism and anti-White supremacy, there is the opportunity, with a radical education, to transform the field in a critical direction, better prepared to overcome the social justice challenges of the era.


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