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Publication: GSSWSR Director of Field Education Kanako Okuda

December 12, 2023
Kanako Okuda, Director of Field Education, GSSWSR

Toward Decolonizing Social Work Practicum: From a Practicum Director’s Perspective

Author: Kanako Okuda

Source: Smith College Studies in Social Work, Volume 93, 2023, Issue 2-4, pages 250-267,

Publication Type: Journal Article

Abstract: The social work practicum, also called field education, is the signature pedagogy of social work education and is deeply rooted in the profession’s history. Unfortunately, the practicum reflects hegemonic Eurocentric values and is complicit in enacting oppression, privilege, and structural inequity. Therefore, social work needs to reckon with this history and with the need to decolonize the practicum, which has recently drawn the critical attention of social work educators and students engaged in social justice dialogs. This article argues that in social work education, practicum directors have assumed gatekeeping responsibility; practicum directors and administrators inevitably contribute to professional inequity and are complicit in its oppressive practices. Notwithstanding this fact, practicum education is positioned to play a critical role in decolonizing social work education, and practicum directors’ voices and perspectives are essential to implementing meaningful transformation. By critically examining the practicum process and offering suggestions for future discussions and liberatory action, this article examines the way that the social work practicum participates in oppressive practice from a practicum director’s perspective.