Social workers recognize that individuals live in families who are in turn influenced by organizations, services, communities and policies. Grounded in a code of ethics that values the inherent worth and dignity of all people, social work is the field that has what it takes to create lasting change for families.
The Jordan Institute catalyzes change and extends the mission of the School of Social Work beyond the academy walls into communities. The Institute aims to innovate, collaborate, activate and educate, weaving a focus on social justice and racial equity across everything it does. We acknowledge the long history of racism that has been a framework for the U.S. since its inception. The historical trauma, intergenerational poverty, and limited opportunity that this has caused to African Americans and American Indians requires urgent and focused attention. Whether our activism is through policy, professional training, forging disruptive partners, bringing community and family voices to decision-making spaces or other strategies, equity and justice is the foundation of our work.
The Jordan Institute takes a life span approach to its work, recognizing that there are sensitive periods of development across the life span – from preconception to early childhood, high school graduation, parenting and retirement. Each age and stage matters and can have intergenerational impacts emotionally, physically and economically. Bolstering protective factors and reducing risks can create healthy trajectories for families. These factors include the social determinants of equity – access to education, employment, housing, safety and transportation.
We recognize that individuals live within social networks which in turn are influenced by social institutions, the larger community and public policy. While many interventions are directed at the individual, it is difficult for a person to change when pushing against a host of factors larger than themselves. Families and friends are critical components of a person’s life and their influence for good or bad is essential. Social networks can provide buffers and support or can cause harm and limit potential. Fostering healthy relationships and reducing isolation is key.
Likewise, we aim to build inter-organizational partnerships to foster greater collaboration and coordination so as to deploy the best thinking and most resources possible to take on the grand challenges of our time. Communities are defined in many different ways, with varying resources and needs. They are vulnerable to economic and environmental distress and often have an imbedded history of inequality that must be repaired. Public policy whether at the local, state or federal level plays a critical role in creating conditions where people can thrive. Our work extends across all of these levels and necessarily includes the people who live and lead in these arenas.