The School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina, I have recently come to find, is a rather unique place. In addition to possessing an extremely approachable faculty, staff, and administration the school also offers the opportunity for first and second year students to become involved in the governance of the school. Faculty are encouraged to join committees within the school that exist to evaluate existing curriculums and practices, critically assess existing practices in other schools of social work, and implement necessary changes to keep our school current and nationally competitive. Faculty have the option to join the Committee on Students, Direct Practice Foundation Committee, Diversity Committee, Foundation Committee, Honors and Awards Committee, Management Advisory Committee, Management and Community Practice Concentration Committee, Policy Sequence Committee, Research Sequence Committee, Reaccreditation Task Force, and the Faculty Senate.
First and second year students are encouraged to join these committees to provide student feedback. Although this may seem ordinary, I have recently come to realize this is a rather unique privilege the UNC School of Social Work provides for its students. When speaking to a student from another graduate program at UNC recently, she was surprised to hear that the faculty at the School of Social Work take students’ opinions and suggestions seriously. I can personally attest to this. As a first-year student I was a student representative on the Policy Sequence Committee. While serving on the committee I was encouraged to speak my mind on topics ranging from curriculum flaws and gaps to being personally involved in expanding the visibility of policy courses within the school.
While inviting students to join faculty committees is not the School of Social Work’s most redeeming quality, by far, it is certainly an impressive amenity. Encouraging student feedback keeps the curriculum current, practical, applicable, and prepares students for the “real world”. It also provides students with the opportunity to develop solid relationships with faculty outside of the classroom. This is just one of the many reasons I love this place!