September 29, 2022

Student Research Spotlight: Porscha Doucette

Social Work student, Porscha Doucette hopes to diversify the social work curriculum. Social Work student, Porscha Doucette hopes to diversify the social work curriculum. 

By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor

Student research spotlight: Porscha Doucette

Major: Social Work

Campus: Moab

Award: Peak Summer Fellowship

Project: Investigating the Erasure of Diverse Perspectives in Social Work’s History

When USU student Porscha Doucette picked up Mary Crow Dog’s Lakota Woman over winter break, she expected to learn more about Indigenous perspectives. What she didn’t expect is that it would push her to think about whether social workers are trained to serve the diverse needs of their clients.

“Up until this point in my social work education, I had not considered the fact that my training was not universally applicable,” Doucette said. “I knew that I needed to rectify this through further education.”

Her social work practice in Moab means that Doucette is likely to work directly with Native American populations, and she felt that more was needed to earn that trust.

“Unfortunately, social work education largely brushes over the histories of the marginalized populations with which we work,” Doucette explained. “This lack of historical understanding means new social workers are likely to continue past harms, not through a lack of caring and good intentions, but through a lack of contextual understanding.”

With this aim in mind, Doucette applied for support from a Peak Summer Research Fellowship and has spent the past few months doing a deep dive into the subject she is most passionate about.

Over ten weeks, Doucette examined BSW curricula at other public universities, reviewed primary sources, identified articles for future study, and assessed the differences between actual histories and the way this is reflected in current pedagogy. Her research, which was supervised by faculty mentor, Chris Babits, will culminate in curricular modules for introductory social work and history courses, which Doucette hopes will make progress toward providing more inclusive training for students and better outcomes for the people receiving services.

“The way forward for the social work profession…is through collaboration with indigenous and tribal peoples, as well as respect for vastly different approaches,” she added. “I hope that the stories of these individuals and groups can become as prominent in the teaching of social work's history as that of…early white social workers.”

Doucette is the first Peak Fellow from a statewide campus. The program, endowed by USU faculty David and Terry Peak, supports summer research projects from their respective colleges —the College of Science and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Next year’s applications will open on February 1, 2023.


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