Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Undergraduate Social Work Programs: How are Programs in Rural Areas Faring?

David L. Beimers, Brian Warner, Paul Mackie

Abstract


Social work programs have a long-standing commitment to recruiting and educating racially and ethnically diverse students. However, some programs in rural areas have greater difficulty meeting this commitment. This study examined racial and ethnic diversity within baccalaureate social work (BSW) programs, focusing primarily on student enrollment, faculty, perceptions of diversity, and interventions to attract students. Program directors of BSW programs from 10 Midwestern states were surveyed. Forty-two programs responded. The results indicate that as a whole, social work programs differ in their levels of racial and ethnic diversity. However, BSW programs in rural areas tend to have fewer students and fewer faculty who are racially or ethnically diverse. BSW program directors recognize lack of diversity as an issue, yet strategies that have been used to increase diversity have been only minimally effective. Implications for social work programs and strategies to enhance diversity are discussed.


Keywords


racial and ethnic diversity, recruitment, rural, social work education, students

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