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School briefs

Lisa Zerden, senior associate dean for MSW Education, was appointed to the rank of associate professor, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Clinical instructor Andrea Murray-Lichtman was accepted into the doctoral program at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Newfoundland, Canada. She will begin this summer with her first residency semester mid-May. The program is structured in such a way that she will continue to work in her current role with the School’s Triangle Distance Education Program while pursuing this new degree.

The Jordan Institute for Families and the School’s Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab co-hosted a discussion with Poverty Stoplight founder Martin Burt of Paraguay. Burt is founder and CEO of Fundacion Paraguaya, an organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty. As a pioneer in applying microfinance, microfranchise, youth entrepreneurship, financial literacy and technical vocational methodologies, Burt also developed the Poverty Stoplight. This new metric and methodology helps enable families to assess their levels of poverty and to carry out personalized strategies to overcome their specific deprivations. The Poverty Stoplight defines what it means “not to be poor” across six dimensions: income and employment, health and environment, housing and infrastructure, education and culture, organization and participation, interiority and motivation. The Poverty Stoplight is currently being implemented in more than 20 countries, including in the United States and the United Kingdom.

More than 100 educators, social workers, elected officials, health care professionals, civic leaders and others concerned about school issues, including school bullying and school violence, attended the two-day, “Summit on Student Safety and Well-being,” Nov. 30-Dec. 1.  The summit was sponsored by the Schools of Education, Social Work, Public Health and Medicine and included special speakers, including Ron Avi Astor, professor of School Behavioral Health, School of Social Work and School of Education, at the University of Southern California and Dorothy Espelage, professor of the Department of Psychology, University of Florida–Gainesville. Astor discussed the science and practice of promoting student safety and well-being using a systems approach, while Espelage spoke about research-informed bullying and sexual violence prevention among youth.

The comprehensive program covered 10 different sessions, and included panel discussions with speakers, participants and moderators from the School of Social Work, including Dean Gary L. Bowen, clinical associate professor Sarah Verbiest, clinical assistant professor Tauchiana Williams, research professor Kirsten Kainz and research associate Todd Jensen.

Students in Will Hall’s SOWO 709 (Social Work With the LGBTQ Community) course recently displayed their final projects for the semester in the School’s Social Innovation and Education Lab. The students were asked to explore issues that present a threat to the mental or social well-being of the queer community and to focus on an intervention that could address the challenge and promote healing and resilience. Among the student displays included an alter to honor and give voice to LGBTQ members and their ancestors, especially people of color; a visual representation of data gathered from a survey that explored LGBTQ life in the workplace; and a meditation on queer identity, development and healing. “I wanted them to choose a topic or an issue that they could delve into on a deeper level because the class was an overview on a lot of different mental health issues and relationship issues,” Hall said. “Each project is so different and it allowed them to be creative and to open up a dialog with other people here in the school about the issues that they’re concerned about or passionate about.”