STaCS Manifesto

For mental health, well-being, domestic safety and social justice after 2020.

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2020 is almost certainly the hardest year higher education has faced in our lifetimes.

This ‘manifesto’ aims to step into that space with ambition, recognizing that our particular collection of professions and perspectives is uniquely placed to support professional social services to stressed and struggling publics which speak to their mental health, well-being, domestic safety and social justice.

We are actively reimagining the work of the department in light of:

  1. COVID-19
  2. Anti-Racism, identity and inclusion
  3. The climate emergency

We are revising our teaching and learning, and our research, to reflect these themes in relation to:

  1. Our values, beliefs and worldviews
  2. Our professional ethics and regulations
  3. Our practices as therapists, social workers, youth workers and community workers

Values and Principles

We reaffirm our commitment to 5 values and 5 principles which shape and sustain our teaching, practice and research:

Values

  1. Anti-racism, equality, diversity and inclusion
  2. Social justice and social change
  3. Environmental justice
  4. Solidarity and Relationships
  5. Hopefulness

Principles

1. Ethical commitment to colleagues and students to support each others’ well-being:

  • Recognising our humanity at workspaces to talk, to vent, to share, to support one another
  • Actively working in anti-racist ways and challenging inequality and oppression

2. Inter-disciplinarity:

  • Identifying broad shared critical theory(ies) as the context for critical practice – equipping students with the science and philosophy of knowledge
  • Working towards new cross-program teaching on shared and overlapping themes, (eg anti-racism, attachment, safeguarding, social policy, research methods, ecology, activism and ‘greening’ our professions)
  • Loosening logistical barriers by shared online teaching

3. Innovation and Creativity

  • Embedding emotional and intellectual curiosity about racism, anti-racism and identity, the climate emergency and COVID-19 across our teaching and learning, and research
  • Taking time to ground our teaching and learning in lived experiences and real-world dilemmas
  • Embedding community arts and creative practices

4. Progressive Partnerships

  • Knowing and working with our neighbours to provide services and spaces to think
  • Standing alongside spaces of community creativity, resistance and criticality

5. Reflexivity

  • Regular get-togethers to ask ourselves what are we doing well, what are we getting wrong, what could we do differently, or additionally?

Existing areas of research to further develop in these directions

  • Uses of arts in Social Work
  • BAME children and young adults in social care
  • Social work and safeguarding in middle-class families
  • Vicarious Trauma as a basis for community resilience
  • Uses of Music, Dance and Art Therapies
  • Rights, needs and experiences of Gypsy Roma Travellers
  • International Human Rights policy and practice
  • South East London Teaching Partnership for Social Work
  • Good practice in relation to religion, belief and worldviews in the professions
  • Community engagement as a basis for understanding needs and co-producing responses

Active areas for growth

Relationships of trust for effective working and support

  • Recognising – and saying it - that people may be feeling bruised and exhausted and vulnerable
  • Facilitating regular time spent together listening, sharing and supporting experiences of being at work, aside from business meetings in which ‘things get done’
  • Staff forum
  • Anti-racism and identity fora
  • Mutual mentoring – where every colleague mentors and is mentored by one other?

Possible new programmes

  • Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology
  • MA Counselling (top-up for diploma level graduates)
  • BA Child and Youth Studies
  • BA Social and Community Work

Research

  • Community engagement as our way of being rooted in our community – what does the community say about what are the issues, what are the needs, how might we respond, can we co-produce research questions and impacts?
  • Pragmatic, realistic goals for projects, and for grant-capture to deliver them
  • Writing, funding and impacts partnerships between colleagues to support and grow capacity, experience and skills
  • Celebrating teaching and scholarship as well as research

Next Steps

A department-wide discussion about the manifesto took place at departmental board on 3 June 2020. We agreed we want to articulate our goals and to do so in a timely way, so we can stand up robustly as the sector, society and Goldsmiths, changes shape, scope and size.

This was followed by a consultative all-staff forum in July and a presentation of the draft manifesto at the student welcome event in September 2020.

The departmental leadership group is now pleased to launch the manifesto in an all-staff forum on 2 November, and on the same day this will be posted on all programme pages on the VLE, and students informed. 

We will hold a student forum shortly afterwards (date to be confirmed) to invite suggestions for what they would like to see in the teaching and learning in relation to these three themes, and the manifesto overall.

We will now undertake a light-touch process during autumn and spring terms 2020-21, to incorporate the manifesto across all of our teaching, resulting in minor module revisions ready for the new academic year 2021-22.