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The School of Social Work ready to learn about island life

Posted Nov. 6, 2017
Reported by: Claire Jordan (ABJ '18), sswpr@uga.edu

Jane McPherson in grenada

L-R: Oliver Benoit, professor, St. George's University, Grenada; Calisha Hyacinth, MSW, T.A. Marryshow Community College, Grenada; Jane McPherson, assistant professor, UGA School of Social Work; Richard Gordon, professor and director, UGA Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI); Amy Baldwin, associate professor, microbiology, AU/UGA Medical Partnership. Photo courtesy Jane McPherson.


Students in the School of Social Work will soon engage with their peers on the island nation of Grenada, thanks to a new international education project that could expand the way study abroad programs are conducted.

Director of Global Engagement and Assistant Professor Jane McPherson received a Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work Education (KAKI) grant for her proposal, “Transcending boundaries: Connecting University of Georgia social work students and their Grenadian peers in virtual and actual space.”

Most study abroad programs primarily consist of travel; McPherson's project will begin in spring 2018 with a semester of virtual interaction between BSW students from UGA and Grenadian students at St. George’s University. In spring 2019, the program will offer students both virtual exchange and then a physical visit to the island of Grenada during their spring break. Grenadian students are also expected to visit UGA in 2019.

McPherson, who along with Dr. Amy Baldwin in the UGA Medical Partnership, is a founding member of the Grenada Women’s Health Collaborative (GWHC), will focus the project on social factors that impact women’s health in both the U.S. and Grenada. Students from both schools will collaborate virtually to teach each other about issues in their respective communities.

The KAKI grant aims to equip North American students as global citizens who will advance international social work. “Our changing world requires social work education to prepare responsible and knowledgeable global citizens,” McPherson said. She is one of only three social work educators to receive the grant this year.

Beyond the cross-cultural exchange, McPherson developed Transcending Boundaries to answer questions about the potential value of a virtual exchange, as well as the added value of a face-to-face component. Using quantitative and qualitative research, this project will expand knowledge on how to promote virtual international experience, as well as how to prepare students to study abroad. When Transcending Boundaries is complete in 2019, McPherson will compile a free, downloadable tool kit for educators who may wish to initiate similar programs at their schools.