GCSW College of Social Work
A Note from the Dean

It’s been 20 years since I read Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare by Dorothy Roberts a book that changed the trajectory of my life and career. I had just left the Department of Family and Protective Services where I had worked as a child welfare caseworker. Reading this book was the first time I came to understand the harm that child welfare intervention causes to Black families and communities. Once I came to understanding this harm, and my own complicity, I began a journey I have been on for the last 20 years and I am forever grateful to Dr. Roberts for her work.

Now, 20 years later, I am thrilled to provide copies of Dr. Dorothy Roberts’s new book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families – And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World to all GCSW students, faculty, and staff.

As activist Mariame Kaba has often said, “Abolition is a collective vision.” At the GCSW, we are embracing this vision and learning and growing together as we challenge harmful, oppressive systems and reimagine ways to achieve justice and liberation for all by amplifying not only the harms but also the scholarship and dreams of those who push us toward freedom.

Building from this vision, our SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center is bringing the concept of Healing Justice to our work and to those who work alongside us in our communities. Healing Justice recognizes the toll this work takes on our physical and mental health and works to build community/survivor-led responses rooted in southern traditions of resiliency to sustain our overall wellbeing.

Finally, I am thrilled to share the launch of GCSW's new Hub for Engaged Action Research (HEAR) Lab, which focuses on building faculty’s capacity to share their work in new and accessible ways. Over the last few years, we’ve all come to understand that the value of our work doesn’t come from impact factors, citation counts, or other artificial measures. Rather, the true value of our work comes from the difference it makes in bringing about change. Our HEAR Lab was designed to keep us closer to community, closer to our values, and closer to the real purpose that brought us together as a community of scholars committed to confronting injustice and realizing change.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about us. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Alan J. Dettlaff
Dean, UH Graduate College of Social Work
Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair

This fall, Dr. Dorothy Roberts will deliver the keynote for our annual Speaking of Social Justice lecture that features authors whose books spark the conversations necessary to achieve real and lasting change.

LEARN more about Torn Apart.
LEARN more about Dr. Dorothy Roberts.

"Healing justice is social justice. Healing happens when we seek to dismantle racism, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, and other forms of oppression. These forms of oppression continue to perpetuate the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern US. We must not forget ourselves in the process, which is why speaking to the act of rest was so important."

–Lladira Aguilar, MSW

SUSTAIN Wellbeing COMPASS Coordinating Center at the GCSW, recently organized "Healing Justice & The Act of Rest." The event, held during Black History Month, was led by Tarik Daniels, founder and Executive Director of Whatsinthemirror?, a non-profit organization that strives to provide "suicide prevention and mental health awareness through art and advocacy to people of color and low socio-economic communities.

READ more about Healing Justice.


“The Hub for Engaged Action Research is the product of our increased awareness of the importance of getting our scholarship out to new audiences so that it can more immediately impact policy and practice combined with our recognition that we need to provide resources and supports so that scholars can learn to share their work in new ways."

– Sarah Narendorf, GCSW Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development

Along with Dr. Narendorf, GCSW doctoral students are spearheading the effort to disseminate faculty research in innovative ways and bring it to the forefront of impacted communities. Leveraging their skills, doctoral students are collaborating with faculty members to develop summaries of peer-reviewed articles for community audiences. Devonte Hill, a Community Health Worker (CHW), is another contributor to the HEAR Lab Team.

READ more about HEAR Lab.