The Jordan Institute for Families has decided to start a blog. We know, what’s the point? We get it. When large institutions run blogs, they tend to be self-conscious and can come off like a series of press releases that no one follows. So, what’s our motivation for starting one? Well, to be perfectly honest, for us it’s a step towards addressing what we see as some of the major challenges facing contemporary academia: the disconnect that comes with academic silos, the pressures for faculty to publish in journals that most people will never read, the public perception that tax dollars are going to support research that few people ever know happened. A focus on peer reviewed publications or formal newsletters tends to hide some of the best things going on within and, more importantly, beyond the institution.
And this issue will be resolved by a blog? Of course not. But it’s one way of engaging with an exciting cultural shift that has been happening across every discipline for some time now. Think about the rise of TED Talks, thousands of podcasts available on any topic, lectures posted for free on Youtube, or the many Internet-based series in popular education. Education is opening up, institutional barriers are falling down, and the process of learning is becoming ever more a public dialogue and less a proprietary asset.
We believe this can only be a positive thing. As a profession that strives for the empowerment of the marginalized and the removal of barriers that stand in the way of personal growth, we anticipate a culture of transparent and democratically accessible education with excitement. We recognize that we work within institutions that need to grow, innovate and change – from the academy to child welfare, health care, the prison industrial complex, and more. We are committed to helping to build something different.
That said, our hope for the content of this blog is to try and make the work we do in the classroom, in the community, and in our research as open and accessible as possible to anyone and everyone interested in learning. But it’s about more than just the work itself. This will be a space for sharing thoughts and personal experiences about projects, passions, and lessons learned. This can include anything from collective efforts to end human trafficking to the personal experience of an American Indian student attending a PWI on formerly native land. We want to give voice to veteran professors reflecting on the radical changes taking place in the field as well as DACA recipients sharing what it feels like to have their lives hang in the balance while politicians play poker with immigration policy. Who are the people behind the projects? How do we create, invent, connect and advocate for change as social workers?
As for our authors, this space is open to any member of the social work family to contribute. We’re aiming for broad representation so this can be a place that elevates all the multi-faceted voices within the Jordan Institute and community – from students and staff, to alumni, adjunct professors, tenured professors, donors…everyone. Our belief is that by opening this forum to everyone, you, the reader, can get a real (and maybe sometimes raw) glimpse into who we really are, what we really care about, and what we’re doing to try to make this world a better place to live. The writing styles and topics will vary quite a bit. We can’t promise this will always be a smooth ride. We hope readers will assume best intentions and let us know when we’ve missed a key point. We are committed to investing the time to make this happen. We hope you’ll make the time to read!