For the past two decades, the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) Diversity Standing Faculty Committee has provided leadership and accountability in the assessment, development, monitoring, and evaluation of the School’s diversity initiatives. The Committee is chaired by a tenured faculty member, signaling the importance of the committee within the School. One member of the Diversity Committee is a member of the School’s Curriculum Committee, and one member of the Diversity Committee serves on the Faculty Search Committee to promote effective cross-committee communication and ensure that diversity figures prominently in decision-making regarding curricular issues and the recruitment of new faculty. The Diversity Committee welcomes student participation. Three seats are set aside for two MS students and a PhD student.
One of the functions of the Diversity Committee is to ensure that there are specific educational and training resources for faculty and students on diversity issues, in particular those that intersect with issues of power, privilege, social difference, and identity. The Professional Development and Self Awareness (PDSA) Program was created precisely to provide this assurance. Housed under the office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the PDSA Program receives an annual allocation of financial and administrative resources.
The work of the PDSA has grown out of the tireless and dedicated work of so many who have come before. Over the decades, students, faculty, alumni, and administrators have given their passion, drive, time, and great consideration and support to the ongoing work of creating inclusive learning spaces. PDSA recognizes, acknowledges, and honors their work.
The Professional Development and Self-Awareness Program (PDSA) stems from the vision of a community where all CSSW students, faculty, and administrators feel safe, supported, and accountable within their individual experiences with privilege, power and oppression. PDSA programs seek to develop mechanisms by which systems of oppression that operate within CSSW are publicly recognized and openly confronted.
PDSA promotes an inclusive environment that fosters the development of self-awareness and accountability. PDSA aims to build an environment that acknowledges and challenges injustices and their many forms, while simultaneously promoting dialogue surrounding personal experience and accountability.
PDSA recognizes that forms of oppression often lead to the pain and silencing of many students, faculty and administrators. PDSA understands that there are many students, faculty and administrators that consistently work to achieve these goals, and supports these existing efforts by providing grants, administrative resources, and spaces for significant discussions and actions to occur. PDSA supports CSSW in upholding the connection between social work and social justice.