Call for Papers: Special Issue

Reckoning and Reconciliation: Decolonizing Social Work Education

Special Issue Guest Editors:

Donna Jeffery, Billie Allan, Rhonda Hackett, School of Social Work, University of Victoria

Abstract Submission Deadline: February 12, 2018

This special issue seeks to contribute to a growing body of knowledge addressing decolonization in higher education, specifically rooted in and relating to decolonization in the context of social work education. The profession of social work has particular responsibilities to decolonization given its complicity in colonial nation-building manifested in the implementation of colonial policies and practices that have had devastating impacts particularly for Indigenous peoples and peoples of colour. Resounding calls for decolonization and reconciliation in education have followed the painstaking work and calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). How has and how will social work take up the work of decolonizing and reconciling with its historical and contemporary roles in colonialism?

Despite a focus on social work, we are seeking to bring together interdisciplinary voices and perspectives to help share knowledge, skills, strategies, and theory-making based in where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going in decolonizing systems of higher education. Inviting interdisciplinary dialogue is meant to engage in a practice of reciprocity, recognizing that the knowledge base of social work, with its orientation to application in practice, has contributions to offer to the broader efforts towards decolonization in higher education. Likewise, social work education can benefit through interaction with and integration of decolonizing pedagogies and practices developing within and transforming other disciplines.

The Canadian Association of Social Work Education (CASWE) has recently issued a “Statement of Complicity and a Commitment to Change” which recognizes the role of social work in colonialism in Canada and begins to articulate commitments and pathways to creating change within social work education. As social work educators, policymakers and

practitioners grapple with the responsibility to make amends for the ways in which the profession has been and continues to be implicated in the implementation of colonial policies and practices, the practicality of how to move the profession forward in a decolonizing manner requires careful attention to issues of power, resistance and relationality.

It is important to begin with acknowledging and honouring the existing body of scholarship addressing decolonization and reconciliation in social work largely built on the work of Indigenous social work scholars (see, for example, Absolon & Absolon-Winchester, 2016; Baikie, 2009; Baskin, 2011, 2016; Baskin & Sinclair, 2015; Bruyere, Hart & Sinclair, 2009; Clark et al., 2010; Hart, 2009; Sinclair, 2004; Tamburro, 2013; Weaver, 2005; Yellowbird, 2008, 2013). As an increased consciousness of, and engagement with, notions of reconciliation continue to take hold in academia and broader Canadian society in response to the work of the TRC (2015), those of us in social work education must reckon with our respectives roles and responsibilities in contributing towards decolonization. Of the 94 Recommendations (Calls to Action) stipulated in the TRC report, the first twelve target child welfare and education. It is incumbent upon those of us who educate social work students (and all of us in the profession of social work) to address these colonial legacies, not simply because we are obligated to do so following from the TRC but because we have an ethical and political responsibility to do so to live within our own stated values and ethics.

Social work education is implicitly practice-oriented and, as such, it not only matters what social work educators choose to address but how. The ways in which decolonizaton and reconciliation are taken up in the social work classroom ought to be understood as having implications for how students/graduates will take up this work in the field. Social work strives for social justice and has engaged with critical theories in support of its efforts, both in its own theorizing and through integration of theories from outside of the profession to help inform transformative practice; this includes but is not limited to Indigenous approaches, critical race theory, and anti-oppressive practice (AOP) theories. These particular theoretical frameworks, along with the contributions of scholars outside of social work, such as Coulthard (2014), Lawrence and Dua (2002), Simpson (2014), Simpson (2013) and Tuck and Yang (2012), help to illuminate the normalizing and naturalizing of colonial ways of knowing and being utilized in social work, thereby supporting the articulation of visions and pathways for moving toward relationships of reconciliation.

With the intention of gathering knowledge to help articulate multiple means and pathways for realizing decolonization in (social work) education, we invite authors to consider submitting articles that may address (but are not limited to) any of the following:

Resurgence and Indigenization in academia and curriculum (e.g. discussions of land- based education; Indigenous governance structures and practices in academic environments; mechanisms of accountability to Indigenous communities in social work education; Indigenous focused or specialized programming; recruitment and retention of Indigenous faculty, staff and students)

Resistance strategies to address efforts to co-opt, whitewash or diminish the importance of decolonization

Braiding knowledges and practices from Indigenous, anti-colonial, and critical race scholarship in social work and beyond to address the mechanisms of systemic racism that maintain colonial policies and practices in academia, policy making, the frontlines of social service provision and broader societal structures

Exploring and understanding relationships of solidarity among Indigenous peoples and peoples of colour

Managing the often invisible emotional and spiritual labour involved in decolonizing work

Envisioning and enacting a new (decolonial) legacy for social work

Examining what relationships of reconciliation and relational accountability look like in decolonizing social work education in Canada

Instructions for submission:


Interested authors are invited to submit an abstract of 1-2 pages clearly outlining the theme, argument and contribution that your full-length manuscript will pursue. All abstracts are due by February 12th, 2018.

At the top of your submission and in your email subject line, please clearly state: “Special Issue: Reckoning and Reconciliation: Decolonizing (Social Work) Education”. Please direct abstract submissions by email to Dr. Donna Jeffery at

The Editors of this special issue will review all abstract submissions and preselect submissions according to whether they meet the criteria and thematic focus of the issue. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by email by February 28 2018.

Full Manuscript:

Invited authors of selected abstracts will be invited to submit their completed manuscript by June 15th, 2018.

  • Contributions should be between 4000 and 7000 words

  • In addition to meeting the thematic focus of the special issue, submissions should follow the Journal’s editorial policies and guidelines for submissions, which can be found at:

To ensure articles are in keeping with the Journal’s focus, authors should ensure their manuscripts are relevant to Intersectionalities’ focus and scope (please refer to the Journal policy at: cope)

An abstract (maximum 200 words) and keywords (maximum 5) must be included at the beginning of the manuscript.

Review process:

Submissions will be sent to at least two reviewers for anonymous peer review.


Any questions regarding this special issue may be directed to: Dr. Donna Jeffery at;
Dr. Rhonda Hackett at; or
Dr. Billie Allan at

ISSN: 1925-1270