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Simmons Helps Train Social Workers in "UnDoing Racism"

BOSTON (June 16, 2006) — In response to growing evidence of racial disparities in key social systems, including health care and education, social work educators from around the state will convene June 27th, 29th, and 30th in Boston to determine how best to prepare the next generation of social workers to confront racial inequities they encounter, in part by challenging their own assumptions on race.

The program, sponsored by the Simmons College School of Social Work with support from the National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter, is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth.
At the end of the gathering, called "Summer Academy for UnDoing Racism and Social Justice," the participating social work educators will produce a model curriculum, including syllabi, reading lists and exercises, for teaching standard courses on racism and social justice to social workers. This newly updated curriculum will be available for adoption by social work programs throughout Massachusetts.

Simmons School of Social Work Professor Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, Ph. D, an academy coordinator, says current social work education on racism and social justice is inconsistent and often doesn't address the unique racial history of Massachusetts.

Hamilton-Mason says a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum will help social workers recognize their own views and take steps to change them.  "Often the establishment of policies is colored by the social worker's perception of what's right, as opposed to what might be accurate based on their cultural context," she says.

Pharnal Longus, M.S.W., professor emeritus at Salem State College and creator of the Institute for Undoing Racism at Salem, also is a leading coordinator of the academy, which will take place at Roxbury Community College.

The Simmons School of Social Work ( was founded in 1904.  It has a nationally acclaimed clinical social work program and is one of the oldest schools of social work in the nation. Simmons College ( is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston.