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USC school of social work drops use of word ‘field’

The University of Southern California’s School of Social Work is dropping use of the word “field” in an effort to oppose racism.

“As we enter 2023, we would like to share a change we are making at the Suzanne-Dworak-Peck School of Social Work to ensure our use of inclusive language and practice. Specifically, we have decided to remove the term ‘field’ from our curriculum and practice and replace it with ‘practicum.’ This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” a notice about the change states.

“Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign,” the notice claims. The notice indicates that it is from the “Practicum Education Department” and to the “USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck Practicum Education Community, Faculty, Staff, and Students.”

“In solidarity with universities across the nation, our goal is not just to change language but to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies,” the notice states. “We are committing to further align our actions, behaviors, and practices with anti-racism and anti-oppression, which requires taking a close and critical look at our profession — our history, our biases, and our complicity in past and current injustices. It also means continuing to work together to train social work students today who understand and embody social and racial justice.”

The notice said that altering terminology can be difficult and fully making the switch will require time.

USC’s School of Social Work has a land acknowledgment posted online.

“The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California acknowledges our presence on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Gabrielino-Tongva peoples. We recognize that these Peoples were forcibly removed from their homelands,” the acknowledgment states in part. “With humility, we recognize and respect all Indigenous peoples, their histories, and their ties to the land.”

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