Social Work practitioners, students, faculty and staff came together in the College’s first World Café to share ideas about the future direction of the BSSW and MSW curriculum. Nearly 100 stakeholders participated in the October 29 World Café, including 82 practitioners from a variety of central Ohio providers in mental health, child welfare, hospitals, aging and many others.
“We wanted input from our students and the community as we thought about our future curriculum. I was very pleased to see the enthusiasm of our faculty for the process and to see the collaborative products of faculty, students and community members that emerged from our World Café,” said Associate Dean Tom Gregoire.
The World Café, as described in its website, is a “conversational process based on a set of integrated design principles that reveal a deeper living network pattern through which we co-evolve our collective future.” In short, it’s a way to have an informative dialog that is maximally open to the ideals of the participants and the sharing of those ideals with everyone in a café style setting.
At the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, where the World Café was held, a a large room was arranged in café style with round tables seating four to five participants. The tables had table clothes, were decorated and had markers and newsprint. Associate Dean Gregoire said, “This design was intentional, in order to convey to participates that they were participating in a very different conversational process, and in hopes of creating a fun and creative setting.”
Three rounds of questions were presented to the entire group and everyone at each table was able to speak and share their ideas in a safe and respectful way. Following each round of questions, the table host remained at the table and the other participants moved to other tables. Previous discussions were reviewed at the new table arrangement, thus sharing ideas from around the room.
Questions discussed at the College of Social Work World Café were:
- What time is it NOW in the practice of social work in Central Ohio?
- What time is it NOW in social work education at Ohio State? (discussed in two rounds)
Following this, each table of participants was asked to “Create a poster that paints the picture of what the ideal social work graduate would look like and the characteristics they would possess.”
Excited about the event, MSW II student, Kori Berman, said “I thought it was an amazing experience. It made me feel like our voice was being heard. A striking moment was when I was sitting with a professor, a fellow student, a member of OSU administration, and a community social worker and we all had the same thoughts and ideas about what needed to be done in our program.”
The College of Social Work World Café discussion on the professional curriculum came together with the efforts of many people. Associate Dean Tom Gregoire and College of Engineering Associate Dean Hazel Morrow-Jones hosted the event. Organizing the event was a planning committee consisting of Field Director Lisa Durham, Professor Gil Greene, College of Engineering Associate Dean Hazel Morrow-Jones, Concord Counseling Center Clinical Director Linda Jakes, Public Children’s Services Association of Ohio Executive Director Crystal Ward Allen, and Columbus Medical Association and Foundation Executive Director Phil Cass. Field Office staff, Katie Spinks and Chrissy Gilbert managed and carried out the details necessary to host the event.
“I was impressed with the ability to engage a large group of people in such a meaningful way There was also a strong feeling of inclusiveness with all participants. It seemed the experience was “grace” in action,” said Linda Jakes, Clinical Director of the Concord Counseling Center.