Dr. Karen Rice

“We want students to get their hands dirty and be involved.” That helps describe the new Institute of Global Well-Being and Social Change at Millersville University. The chair of the social work department, Dr. Karen Rice, says the new institute, which will officially get underway this fall, will give Millersville students the opportunity to delve into global social issues and help be positive social change agents. In addition the institute will provide resources and programs for the community and for social work practitioners.

“The institute has been in the works for a couple of years,” explained Rice. “It is grounded in the core value of our profession—to bring about social change. There is a service learning component in many of our courses, and the institute will provide meaningful, authentic service learning opportunities as well as educate our students, practitioners and the community on global issues. We want students to take a stand on social injustice and help bring about change.”

This fall the institute has chosen youth violence as its issue, and there will be a variety of speakers and programs to give students a knowledge base of that issue. In the spring, there will be programs and activities where the students can apply that knowledge.

One of the spring programs will involve a community project working in collaboration with a local school district. “Gangs have been a problem in their area,” said Rice. “There is a coalition within that school district to look at the gang issue, and the institute will be working with youth on changes needed to offset gang activity. For example, they may decide to beautify a park or paint a mural—the project will depend on what comes from the youth.”

Rice already has a plan in place to measure outcomes of the institute by surveying participants on their social justice advocacy skills and their interaction with individuals.

Funding for the institute comes from a variety of sources. Social work practitioners will be able to receive continuing education credits for many of the speakers and programs, and there will be a fee for attending. Additional monies will come from grants and from the 38th Annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas conference that the social work department hosted on campus in July.


Fall Semester 2013

September 19 – Sergio Argueta, director of the social work program at Delphi University will present “Gangs and Alternatives to Incarceration.” Ford Atrium, McComsey Hall, 6 – 9 p.m.

October 23 – The documentary, “Voices of Youth Violence” will be shown at the Ware Center 6 – 9 p.m.

November 6 – “Mental Illness and Youth Violence: What We Know.”  Speaker and location TBD.

December 6 – Dr. Adam Brown, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at the NYU Child Student Center will speak on “Trauma Systems Therapy: Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents” at the Student Memorial Center, 6 – 9 p.m.


Spring Semester 2014

February 7 – Dr. Jennifer Clements from Shippensburg University will present “Art-Based Treatment with Youth Exposed to Trauma.”

March – Barry Kornhauser and MUth Theater will present “Pieces,” and there will also be a bullying photo exhibit at the Ware Center.

June 7-16 – Global Service Learning trip to Northern Ireland.

Additional information on the events will be posted to the University’s calendar. For more information, please contact Rice at mailto: Karen.Rice@millersville.edu

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