Teaching and Learning Social Change


  • Amie Thurber Portland State University
  • Helen Buckingham
  • Jordenn Martens
  • Rebecca Lusk
  • Darrylann Becker
  • Stacey Spenser




social work education, community-engaged learning, social justice, community practice


How can social work courses prepare students to be scholars of social movements, and also to act in solidarity with movements for social justice? How can graduate programs reimagine the professional socialization of social work students from aspiring for expertise toward a stance of life-long learning? How can instructors more deeply leverage our teaching practice to advance justice in our communities? This paper traces one attempt to answer these questions through a three-quarter graduate social work course designed to deepen students’ skills and knowledge in practices for social transformation, while amplifying existing social justice movements. Drawing on reflections from the instructor and five students, course artifacts, and insights from other students and community partners, this case study offers a model of community-engaged teaching that centers solidarity, reciprocity, and justice. 

Author Biographies

Amie Thurber, Portland State University

is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Portland State University. 


Helen Buckingham

is a Supportive Housing Navigator and Case Management Specialist, and a writer, from Beaverton, Oregon.

Jordenn Martens

is a Medical Social Worker from Portland, Oregon.


Rebecca Lusk

is a Child Protective Services Supervisor with the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Darrylann Becker

is a Medical Social Worker in a hospital emergency department in Oregon.

Stacey Spenser

is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Business Partner at Oregon State Treasury.


Bickford, D. M., & Reynolds, N. (2002). Activism and service-learning: Reframing volunteerism as acts of dissent. Pedagogy, 2(2), 229-252.

Center for Sustainable Economy. (2019). Crude bailout: How global partners’ and Zenith Energy’s oil terminals subvert democracy, endanger human life and health, and pollute the planet. Report. https://sustainable-economy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Crude-Bailout-report_July2019_f-4.pdf

Finn, J. L. (2016). Just practice: A social justice approach to social work. Oxford University Press.

George, P., Siver, S., & Preston, S. (2013). Reimagining field education in social work: The promise unveiled. Advances in Social Work, 14(2), 642-657.

Gray, M., & Webb, S. A. (2014). No issue, no politics: Towards a new left in social work education. In C. Noble, H. Strauss, & B. Littlechild (Eds.), Global social work: Crossing borders, blurring boundaries (pp. 327-338). Sydney University Press.

Gringeri, C. E., Wahab, S., & Anderson-Nathe, B. (2010). What makes it feminist?: Mapping the landscape of feminist social work research. Affilia, 25(4), 390-405.

Iverson, S., & James, J. (Eds.). (2014). Feminist community engagement: Achieving praxis. Springer.

Kivel, P. (2005). Social service or social change? In INCITE (Ed.), The revolution will not be funded: Beyond the non-profit industrial complex (pp. 129-149). South End Press.

Levine, A. S., & Murray-Lichtman, A. (2018). Integrating social justice in field education. Field Educator, 8(1), 1-7

Mehrotra, G. R., Tecle, A. S., Ha, A. T., Ghneim, S., & Gringeri, C. (2018). Challenges to bridging field and classroom instruction: Exploring field instructors’ perspectives on macro practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 54(1), 135-147.

Reisch, M. (2013). Social work education and the neo-liberal challenge: The US response to increasing global inequality. Social Work Education, 32(6), 715-733.

Rowe, A. C. (2005). Be longing: Toward a feminist politics of relation. NWSA Journal, 15-46.

Sheridan, M. P., & Jacobi, T. (2014). Critical feminist practice and campus-community partnerships: A review essay. Feminist Teacher, 24(1-2), 138-150.

Simons, H. (2014). Case study research: In-depth understanding in context. In P. Leavy (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of qualitative research (pp. 455-470). Oxford University Press.

Wayne, J., Bogo, M., & Raskin, M. (2010). Field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(3), 327-339.



How to Cite

Thurber, A., Buckingham, H., Martens, J., Lusk, R., Becker, D., & Spenser, S. (2022). Teaching and Learning Social Change. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 8(2), 82–99. https://doi.org/10.15402/esj.v8i2.70743

Similar Articles

> >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.