Editor’s Note: This is the seventh part of our Fast Class video series, which showcases faculty and staff members discussing their areas of interest and expertise.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t a social worker but the late civil rights leader had much in common with those who are.
Social justice was what Dr. King fought for and it “is one of the core components of social work,” said Stephanie Craig, chair and associate professor of social work. “It involves the concept of unity, the coming together to speak for or against a cause in order to promote change. Social workers are powerful people in the efforts to effect change.”
One of the early champions of social justice was Jane Addams, who became the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
“She fought for labor reform and for laws governing working conditions for women and children,” explained Craig.
Addams is considered to be the founder of the settlement house movement (late 1880s through the end of World War I). The idea behind settlement houses was to have wealthy people move into poor neighborhoods so that both groups could learn from one another.
Like Addams, social workers must be passionate about their work, according to Craig.
“New social workers have to find their passion,” explained Craig. “[That is why ] it is important to awaken the minds of social work students about the issues of human rights, whether it be fighting for awareness of domestic violence and/or child abuse, the rights of individuals living in poverty or with a disability, and gay and lesbian mental health and/or health care, to name a few.”
Many times, an unjust situation will spur a person to fight for justice, said Craig.
“A fire will light in the heart and soul,” she explained. “It is an exciting part of social work when students, social workers, and others work toward a single cause or effort.”
In Social Welfare Policy and Services courses at Keuka College, students work to promote social or economic justice, sometimes through participation in the National Association of Social Workers Legislative Day.
Associate Professor and Chair Stephanie Craig has been a social worker for nearly 30 years.
A licensed registered certified social worker (the highest clinical social work degree), Craig was a practicing clinician for not-for-profit agencies such as Pathways Inc. and Family Service Society Inc. She has owned Professional Counseling Services, a private practice in Bath N.Y., since 1994. Her specialties include mood disorders, forensic social work, developmental disabilities, and child and family issues.
Craig came to Keuka in 2002 as an adjunct instructor and began her full-time position in 2003 in the Division of Social Work. She has taught most of the courses in the curriculum.
The passion and heart of the profession is what Craig imparts to all of her students.
“The excitement is in teaching the Introduction to Social Work class, awakening the passion, and teaching the history of social justice,” she said. “One of the most exciting experiences was taking a group of students to New York City to participate in a peace march.”
Craig received the Excellence in Experiential Teaching Award for the 2005-2006 academic year.