Keuka College Social Work Students Lean into Current Events

Professor Stephanie Craig’s Social Work Policy I class tackles U.S. immigration policy in the first of a series of debates.


Friday, April 23, 2021

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made experiential learning and engaging in current events more challenging, but far from impossible, says Keuka College Professor of Social Work Stephanie Craig.

“During an ordinary year, my students would engage in experiential activities in the surrounding community,” said Prof. Craig, who has been with the College’s social work program for nearly 20 years. “But as nothing this year has been normal, we’ve decided to engage in political debates from the social work perspective.”

The bachelor of social work students decide which issues to debate and they certainly aren’t shying away from tough topics. The first in-class debate focused on U.S. immigration policies on the Mexico border. And by “debate,” Prof. Craig isn’t looking for shoot-from-the-lip hot takes.

“Students had to research the current policies and past policies and then respectfully debate the issues,” she said.

That meant going beyond social media static surrounding immigration and social justice to develop a real understanding of the complexities surrounding the issue.

“We had to do a lot of research and be able to understand each side of the topic and be able to come to a bipartisan position about the topic,” said Julia McMahon ’23. “I really enjoyed this activity, because it taught me that so many people have their own opinion and that is OK.”

Debate prep also required students to consider the policy from a variety of viewpoints, including impacts on human services and mental health.

“We all had to place ourselves in different shoes and we all were able to think in a different way,” said McKenzie Low ’23.

All of Prof. Craig’s BSW programs include at least one assignment that involves participation or research outside of the immediate community. The debates have encouraged students to stay in touch with the current political climate and develop an understanding that the current policies will have a lasting impact on their future in any social work practice.

Sarah Eddy

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to go with Keuka College. I was the shy one, but the program and my classmates brought me out of my shell. No matter what occurred, there was a sense of support for each other.

Sarah Eddy '14

“It was interesting to debate something that I did not agree with and I wasn’t fully aware of,” said Alana Flores ’23. “Through the amount of research, I learned how to find the good things in the policy and I learned that we (the country) are trying to move forward and we are moving a step in the right direction.”

The debate topics won’t get any easier. For its next subject, the class has selected “The Reallocation of Funding and Reeducation of Law Enforcement.” Among the topics being considered: Gun control, substance abuse, climate change, and equal pay for people of color and women.

“Hopefully, participation researching and debating these topics will empower students to see their role in the future of human services,” said Prof. Craig.

Carter Davis ’23 is there for it.

“Social work students are the connection between the dream and the reality,” he said. “We have hope for the future.”

About The Social Work Program

Field Period®

Complimenting your classroom study, you’ll gain real-world, practical experience as early as your first year through our Field Period® program. For students taking classes full-time at Keuka College, you’ll complete one Field Period® each year you’re a student. This is a great time to challenge yourself and explore the areas of social work that will enhance your foundational skills.

Field Practicum

During your capstone course, you’ll be placed as a professional-in-training in a human service agency. You’ll work side-by-side with licensed field instructors in a safe, supervised environment—paving the way for you to transition from student to professional.

Keuka College’s social work faculty are active scholars and researchers, and offer you the opportunity to partner on projects if that’s where your interests lie. Our faculty understand the importance of scholarship and its ability to enhance our understanding and advocacy for important societal and community-based issues.

Some of their research interests include the treatment of traumatized youth, transitioning to a competency-based education, an examination of local foster care practices, and building social capital.

You’ll take courses focused on research methods, evaluation strategies, and the various policies that govern the social work profession—all to assist you in becoming an active researcher in the areas that matter the most to you. And if you’re interested in pursuing an advanced degree, you’ll have a leg up on knowing the right questions to ask and how to find the answers.

At Keuka College, your social work faculty are more than just great teachers. They’re seasoned professionals and innovative educators committed to your success. With background and expertise in traumatic brain injury, youth and adolescent counseling, women’s rights issues, solution-focused casework practice, advocacy for the disabled and underserved populations, mood disorders, effects of the child welfare system, and domestic violence, each of your professors come to the classroom with real-world, clinical experience.

They serve as role models, leaders, practitioners, and advocates dedicated to helping you achieve your educational goals, paving the way to improve the health of the nation and the world.

Julie Burns

Associate Professor of Social Work

Academic Credentials

Union Institute and University
Ph.D.
Nazareth College
M.S.W.
SUNY College at Buffalo
B.S.

Biography

Dr. Julie Burns began her interest in Social Work as an activist during her teenage years and has been a professional Social Worker for 30 years.

She has participated in community organizing, planning, and leading demonstrations of civil disobedience in her community. She has a passion for working with people with disabilities and has spent the bulk of her career working with people with intellectual disabilities and their families in grassroots organizations.

Her work as direct care staff, educator, trainer, counselor, program developer, and administrator has provided a solid foundation for linking theory to practice. She has always believed that education can change the world and is deeply honored to teach the next generation of Social Workers.

Professional Interests

Public Policy and Social Change, Women's Healthcare, Reproductive Justice, Intellectual Disabilities, Human and Civil Rights, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Narrative Inquiry and Critical Theories.

Stephanie Craig

Professor of Social Work

Academic Credentials

University at Buffalo
M.S.W.
Nazareth College
B.A.

Biography

Associate Professor Stephanie Craig has been a social worker for nearly 35 years. She is a Licensed Registered Certified Social Worker which is the highest clinical social work degree. Stephanie has been a practicing clinician for Not-for-Profit agencies such as Pathways, Inc. and Family Service Society, Inc. She is the owner of a private practice in Bath NY, Professional Counseling Services, since 1994. 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 Education and Social Work Division. She has taught most of the courses in the curriculum. According to Craig, the excitement is in teaching the Introduction to Social Work class, awakening the passion, and teaching the history of social justice." One of her favorite experiences was taking a group of students to New York City to participate in a Peace march. The passion and heart of the profession is what Craig imparts to all of her students. In 2004 and 2007, Craig led group Field Periods to Poland for a cultural immersion experience for one month. Craig received the Excellence in Experiential Teaching Award for the 2005-2006 Academic year.

Professional Interests

Advocacy for the disabled, improving the distribution of benefits and creating awareness of the large minority, creating greater awareness of the importance of children's rights in many areas, gay/lesbian rights with regard to parenting. Treatment of mood disorders, couple's therapy, and youth and adolescent counseling.

Dr. Jason McKinney

Division Chair
Associate Professor of Social Work

Academic Credentials

University of Rochester
Ph.D.
Roberts Wesleyan College
M.S.W.
Roberts Wesleyan College
B.S.W.

Biography

Dr. Jason McKinney earned a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Social Work from Roberts Wesleyan College and a PhD in Human Development from the University of Rochester. Dr. McKinney has authored articles in peer reviewed journals, including Child and Family Services Review and The Journal of Critical Social Work. He has also published articles in The New Social Worker. His research interest is in the developing self across the life span, and most recently within caregiver-child interactions. In 2006, Dr. McKinney received the Scandling Scholar Award from the University of Rochester. Dr. McKinney's practice experience includes family therapy, parent-training curriculums, and the design and implementation of a successful therapeutic foster care program in Rochester, NY. Prior to joining Keuka College, Dr. McKinney taught at Ashland University as an Assistant Professor of Social Work and adjunct at The Greater Rochester Collaborative, State University of New York (SUNY, Brockport) and Nazareth College, and also at Roberts Wesleyan College. He places a strong emphasis on the need for research in social welfare and enjoys providing students with opportunities for meaningful research.

Professional Interests

Research in Selfhood and Identity Development within Cultural Categories Across the Lifespan Using Socio-Linguistic and Discourse Analytic Methodology, Effects of the Child Welfare System on Children and Families, Community-based Action Research on Aging Well.

Dr. Philip Miller

Assistant Professor of Social Work
Interim MSW Field Director

Academic Credentials

Rutgers University
D.S.W. in Social Work
Washington University in St. Louis
M.S.W. in Social Work
Greenville University
B.A. in Psychology

Biography

Dr. Miller is a licensed clinical social worker with 25 years of social work experience. He completed a Doctorate of Social Work from Rutgers University and a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University in St. Louis with a concentration in mental health and specialization in family therapy. He is passionate about marriage and is a certified Gottman marital therapist from the internationally acclaimed Gottman Institute in Seattle, WA. He spent eight years as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force as a clinical social worker.

Dr. Miller has extensive experience working with varied client groups ranging from children to the elderly as well as living and working in unique settings such as Japan, rural Appalachia, and the inner city. Research interests include military social work, marriage, and experiential learning.

Dr. Vikki O'Connor

Professor of Social Work
MSW Program Director

Academic Credentials

Syracuse University
Ph.D.
Syracuse University
M.S.W.
SUNY Empire State College
B.S.

Dr. Sekai Turner

Assistant Professor of Social Work

Academic Credentials

University of Maryland
Ph.D. in Human Development
University of Pittsburgh
M.S.W. in Social Work
Cornell University
M.P.S. in Africana Studies
Spelman College
B.A. in Psychology

Melissa Whipple ’16

BSW Field Director and Program Coordinator

Academic Credentials

New York University
M.S.W.
Keuka College
B.S. in Social Work
Keuka College
B.A. in Psychology

Keuka College’s bachelor’s in social work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Our students are prepared for, and encouraged to, pursue master’s-level social work education and training, and because of our accreditation, graduates may apply for advanced standing in these programs.

MSW programs around the country accept a percentage of applicants in advanced standing, which allows students to graduate with their master’s degree in one year as opposed to the traditional two years.

Learning Outcomes

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requires all programs to measure and report student learning outcomes. Students are assessed on their mastery of the competencies that comprise the accreditation standards of CSWE.

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