Robin DeLuca-Acconi, Speak Truth To Power (STTP) Lead Educator, PHD, LCSW, Adjunct Professor SBU School of Social Welfare was introduced to STTP when she was a member of the New York State Teacher’s Fair Trade/Civil and Human Rights Committee. She realized that the STTP curriculum was unique as it could introduce students to human rights and train the next generation of human rights defenders. As a school social worker, she valued the conversations she was able to have with students about being an upstander, the dangers of discrimination and the power of one individual to stand up in the face of intolerance.
As Robin pursued her doctorate and began to teach in the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University, she realized that there was a natural connection between social work and human rights and that, “the goals on social work are intertwined with the premise that the realization of universal human rights is essential to a just and ordered society.” Robin’s purpose then became to educate the next generation of social workers about human rights and train them to become defenders as she realized the power of incorporating a human rights framework into one’s social work practice.
RFK Human Rights and the SBU School of Social Welfare are working together to adapt STTP into the baccalaureate social work program, where students are being trained to utilize human rights as a cornerstone of their practice. Karen Robinson, STTP Senior Manager of Training and Human Rights Education, and Robin conduct a human rights intro workshop and second year students perform the STTP play, Voices from Beyond the Dark, during student orientation. During the first week of classes, a more comprehensive lesson on the connection between social work and human rights using the work of STTP defenders as examples of advocacy work is taught.
The human rights framework is currently being used to teach policy, political economy and social work practice. STTP is being incorporated throughout the social work curriculum and the important process of training social work students to redefine their own practice through a human rights lens has begun.
Robin says, “Fighting for human rights required unrelenting vigilance and a commitment to change to what may sometimes seem to be intractable problems. Social workers can envision a better world and then work toward the creation of that better world. Those in the profession of social work know first-hand the deep pain of those who have been oppressed and silenced; those who have been left behind. The lessons of the STTP defenders inspires social workers to help those who remain in the dark find their voice and to amplify their cries for justice.”