The innovative project aims to join diverse professions in an effort to meet social, educational, health and other needs of urban children and their families in school settings. It was formally launched last year with approximately $400,000 in grant funding. This year, the project received a grant of $180,314 from Comprehensive Program Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education for two more years.
"For so long academics have worked out of an 'expert model' in which we passed 'truth and best practices' down to the practitioners in the field, but now we realize it is and must be a two-way street," said Prof. Mary Walsh (SOE), a faculty leader of the effort. "Theory and research inform practice, but practice also shapes theory and research, and ultimately, if our work is going to be meaningful, we must listen to the voice of practitioners and be out in the community."
Last year, the group launched the Interprofessional Faculty Seminar on Integrated Services and Interprofessional Collaboration to discuss how to meld their expertise and deal with issues facing children and families. Faculty representing the Law School, the schools of Nursing and Education, the Graduate School of Social Work, the Carroll School of Management, the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and the English, History and Fine Arts departments attended these events.
A major objective of the project involved modifying and expanding curriculums in SOE's teacher preparation program, Walsh said, as faculty from several schools shared their knowledge with SOE students. In addition, the practicum placements for some courses had GSSW students working in partnership with student teachers from SOE.
While these efforts will continue, Walsh said, the primary goal this year "is to learn at the elbows of the practitioners in the community so we will understand better how to prepare students in each of the professions to work more col-laboratively across the professions."
The link to the community was established last year when local secondary teachers and administrators joined the Interprofessional Faculty Seminars. The teachers and administrators, Walsh said, "made the link between theory and practice very real."
Boston College's interprofes-sional faculty teams will join with collaborative groups already in place at four local schools: the Gardner School in Allston; the Mary Lyons and Taft Middle schools in Brighton, and Brighton High School. These teams will aid current efforts to train student nurses in the schools and to foster closer collaboration between school-based social workers and teachers.
Later this month, Walsh said, faculty teams will begin meeting with school student support teams to address the personal and social issues that impede learning. They will also discuss how collaborations like the Integrated Services Project can change the culture and climate of schools, the problems that arise when professionals from different fields come together in such initiatives, and the difficulty in implementing recommendations with limited community resources.
Other BC faculty are collaborating in school classrooms to enrich the students' education, presenting sessions on topics such as screenwriting, the value of intellectual property and legal issues facing adolescents.
Faculty in the project have also developed a number of interdisciplinary courses in areas the project is focusing on, such as psycho-social issues for children and families and family law. Walsh said Boston College faculty will be invited as guest lecturers in courses outside their disciplines as well. In addition, this year a series of speakers will provide further insight on project-related concerns, featuring psychologist Edward Ziegler of Yale University, a leading advocate for policies affecting poor children and their families.
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