Graduate School of Social Work Welcomes New Dean
Amanda Moore McBride wants to maximize community engagement, interdisciplinary partnerships
“I want people to think of social work as social change,” says Amanda Moore McBride, who on July 1 began her new position as dean of DU’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). “All too often, social work is misconstrued as ‘charity,’ when in fact we are a community of social innovators and change-makers who have an unwavering commitment to social justice.” McBride hopes to change this misconception.
McBride, who comes to DU from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, wants to help make DU the human services think tank for the region with community engagement as its foundation.
“Social work researchers are testing interventions and policy proposals that have the greatest potential for addressing entrenched social problems impacting Colorado and the nation as a whole,” McBride says. She specifically highlights housing and homelessness, positive youth development, and health and mental health interventions and policies as key areas where GSSW faculty and student research is making a difference. McBride also wants to maximize points of intersection among GSSW research initiatives with those of other schools and entities across campus.
Creating a social change-oriented workforce and channeling talent pipelines into a range of organizations is another aspect of her community engagement agenda. “The challenge for social workers is to join with all of those who desire to make a difference in the world today. Social workers need to be able to cross disciplinary boundaries and work across the private, public and nonprofit sectors,” she says. “As a profession, we should also claim our values and expertise in diversity and inclusion, which are needed across society.”
A third prong of McBride’s community engagement agenda is to help GSSW faculty, staff and students expand their commitment to solving problems in the community through a variety of methods. In addition to community-engaged research and training, she hopes they will increase their engagement in other ways—serving on boards or public commissions and task forces, or working with organizations to increase their capacity to turn research findings on effective interventions into practice.
Since her research focuses on community engagement in higher education, McBride says she’s inspired by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp’s commitment to making DU “Denver’s university.” “I’ve studied a range of models for community engagement across colleges and universities, and to see leadership at the top embrace it to this extent is unparalleled in higher education,” she says.
“I actively embrace DU’s vision to be in service of the public good,” McBride says. “Social work is fundamentally an interdisciplinary discipline and profession. Through robust partnerships within the community and across the university, we have the potential to be a higher education model other social work programs seek to emulate.”