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Office of Equity and Inclusion

The College of Social Work is committed to Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) in alignment with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 2022 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) which upholds and reinforces the enduring commitment of social work education to principles of anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. As specified by the CSWE 2022 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards,  dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, caste, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, generational status, immigration status, legal status, marital status, political ideology, race, nationality, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. 

CSWE 2022 EPAS defines Anti-racism as the process of actively identifying and opposing racism and actively changing the policies, behaviors, and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas and actions. Further, inclusion is defined as the act of creating environments in which individuals and groups are engaged, respected, valued, supported, and achieved and when all people are welcomed to fully participate. Equity is achieved by promoting justice, impartiality, and fairness within the procedures, processes, and distribution of resources by institutions or systems. 

The commitment is also anchored in NASW’s commitment to diversity, which is rooted in the belief that creating a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is ethical and requires social workers to acknowledge their position of power vis-à-vis the populations they serve and to practice cultural humility.

The Office of Equity and Inclusion plays a critical role in enhancing the UTCSW strategic vision, mission, and five college commitments and in particular, the fourth commitment of continuing as an anti-racist, equitable, supportive workplace that lives the college’s values through internal and external interactions. Serving as a key in spearheading these efforts is the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion (ADEI). The ADEI is responsible for the strategic direction of the CSW’s DEI activities, promoting an equitable, anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and respectful environment for faculty, staff, and students. The College strives to be a destination workplace, where all faculty and staff thrive and are respected, supported, mentored, and engaged in the college, in the university, in the community, in the state, and in the profession.

Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee

The committee serves in an advisory capacity to the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) to strengthen the enduring commitment of the College of Social Work to the principles of anti-racism, diversity, and equity as required by the CSWE EPAS 2022 and practice in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) which is responsible for establishing the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) requires Accredited Social Work Programs to achieve and maintain competency in the areas of diversity, privilege, oppression, and intersectionality and has been central to social work accreditation standards since 1952. The 2022 CSWE EPAS requires accreditation programs to teach about racism and social justice based on two (of nine) social work competencies (Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice; Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice). The committee also serves as a resource and sounding board for the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion toward achieving goals outlined in the upcoming CSW’s Diversity Action Plan.

Learn more about this here.

Diversity and Inclusion Fellows

The diversity and inclusion fellows support the College of Social Work’s mission of creating an inclusive learning and workplace environment. The DI fellows work in collaboration with the Associate Dean of Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) to create and enhance a culture of inclusive excellence among students, faculty, and staff within the College of Social Work (CSW) by engaging in activities and initiatives related to fostering a welcoming environment. This is in alignment with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 2022 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) which upholds and reinforces the enduring commitment of social work education to principles of anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Learn more about this here –>

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Social Justice Innovation Initiative

The Social Justice Innovation Initiative
at the College of Social Work was made possible through a gift by longtime College supporter, Susan Cooper. The initiative offers a unique framework for understanding many of society’s most pressing issues around education, healthcare, and social justice. The initiative provides grants for students and faculty to creatively challenge social injustices in their communities.

SJII Funded Projects Announced for 2023-2024 –>

Social Justice Innovation Initiative: Realizing Years of Impact –>

Student Organizations

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Rainbow Collective

The Rainbow Collective is a student organization open to current students in the College of Social Work from all programs (BSSW, MSSW, DSW, Ph.D.) who are interested in advocating for the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, and all populations who are marginalized based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or romantic orientation). The Rainbow Collective is an inclusive organization and welcomes participation by all supporters of its mission.

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The Coalition of Black Social Workers

The Coalition of Black Social Workers exists to engage, connect, and empower Black social work students and professionals in the community, with the goal of increasing awareness about issues specific to the Black community and cultivating a network of support.

DEI Faculty Spotlight

DEI Faculty Spotlight – Dr. Mary Held

Dr. Mary Held is the Assistant Dean and MSSW Program Director of the Nashville campus. Dr. Held has dedicated her scholarship to strengthening knowledge related to trauma and resilience in immigrant communities.


This spotlight is brought to you by Jason Davis, in partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.

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Helpful Resources
Division of Diversity and Engagement | Global Initiatives | Reporting an Incident Related to Bias
The UT Student Government Association Diversity Affairs Committee | The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Guide to Intervention

National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education