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The work of the CSWE Center for Diversity is made possible through the support of the University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work.  

Teaching About Current Issues

Helping People Define and Pursue Their Visions of a Good Life
Visit the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems for a series of upcoming webinars on best practices for people with disabilities and older adults with long-term service and support needs.


Making Space for Free-Choice Reading Alongside Textbooks in Social Work Foundation Courses 

Mixing free-choice books (e.g., memoirs, ethnographic works, and other nonfiction) with core textbooks encourages students in social welfare classes to evaluate the impact of policies on the lives of people and communities. This Educator|Resource describes course methods and activities that help students forge connections between experiences chronicled in books they choose, assigned readings, and practice. Free-choice book reading gives students more autonomy and control over their learning while also encouraging them to grapple with structural factors that shape social welfare systems. For related resources, see the November 2018 Educator|Resource, Social Justice 101: Teaching Empathy and Critical Thinking Using Books With Powerful Messages on Social Justice. It describes teaching strategies in diversity and justice in an interdisciplinary course.
Visit the Diversity Center Library for a gallery of fiction and nonfiction books on diversity and justice.

Teaching Resources

Policy Course Syllabus Assignments
Book List and Descriptions (PPT) Class Activities and Exercises

About the Educator


John Sullivan, MSW, is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on advancing health equity for marginalized populations with chronic medical conditions, including improving mental health and other services for people with chronic kidney disease. Sullivan’s research has been funded by the Fulbright Program and the U.S. Social Security Administration. His teaching experience includes courses in social welfare, programs, policies, and issues.

Educator Q&A

What’s the value of this resource in a nutshell?
Mixing free-choice books—memoirs, ethnographic works, and other nonfiction, in this case—with a core policy textbook (and activities like frequent reflective writing and a book review intended for policy professionals) gives social work students more autonomy and space for deeper learning; students extend and apply concepts, skills, and experiences from one context to another, and in ways meaningful to their individual learning and practice. Read the full Q&A

The views expressed in the Educator|Resource are those of the educator(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council on Social Work Education.

 Interested in contributing to the Educator | Resource of the Month? Please contact Dr. Yolanda Padilla, CSWE Diversity Center Director, at

Up Next for the
Educator | Resource


Preparing Social Workers for Work With Latinx Communities

Latinx communities face multiple issues when assessing social services and dealing with care providers. Dr. Rocío Calvo from Boston College describes her model for preparing students to work with Latinx individuals, families, and communities. She incorporates coursework, research, field placements, mentoring, training in self-advocacy, and career development.

Look for it in September

EPAS Webinar

Curricular Resource on Issues of Disability and Disability-Competent Care

View the new webinar, Building Skills to Integrate Competent Practice in the Social Work Curriculum. The webnar was developed by CSWE's Council on Disability and Persons With Disabilities.