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Research and Scholarship

Research and scholarship at the highest level are expected at Tulane University, a member of the elite Association of American Universities. The School of Social Work is the oldest in the Old South. It is therefore expected that all faculty will engage in research and scholarly activities to constantly contribute to the emerging fields of study and practice represented within social work and the related fields.

The School is noted for its research scholarship by its many illustrious and successful alumni as well as publishing "Tulane Studies in Social Welfare," a collection of the latest scholarly articles on the topic from the School. Perhaps its most important contribution has been the steady support of social justice. The School graduated the first black social worker and hired the first black social work educator. The School's efforts continue today.

As one of the 10 Tulane University Schools, community service, community connections, and community research, including action research, is part of the School's "DNA." The now discontinued Social Work PhD Program and replaced with the new DSW Program represent the continuation of this focus on the community. Indeed the School's interdivisional PhD Program in City, Culture, and Community directly focuses on scholarship on community and its culture and urban studies.

Compared to past faculty, the faculty of 2016 is younger, more women, and more of a focus on vulnerable populations, particularly children and families. Annually the School publishes a report, Waves of Innovation, about the research activities of the School - faculty, staff, students, and colleagues outside the School.

Everyone is involved in some way in research and scholarship.

What is Research?

Research is the activity of gathering information (data) that leads to conclusions that are useful for improving the world in some way.

What is Scholarship?

Scholarship is publishing the work in peer-reviewed publications and peer-reviewed books and other activities that are considered a contribution to the relevant fields of study and practice.

Schools of social work have a tradition of focusing on the work of social workers' theory, research, and development of tools, guidelines, approaches, theories, worthy of additional study and practical use.

The School's research and scholarship enterprise is about attracting and retaining highly qualified faculty who understand practice and policies of social work and are informed by them as they focus on understanding and helping vulnerable populations, the core of the School research focus. It is a focus that brings together both faculty and staff, both tenured and clinical faculty. They work in teams and with colleagues around the world to focus on:

  1. South African vulnerable children (Research Associate Professor Tonya Thurman);
  2. The vulnerable members within Native American tribes and the issue of health and mental health services disparities (Assistant Professor Catherine Burnette);
  3. The vulnerable populations within Louisiana in the face of natural disasters (Assistant Professor R F);
  4. The vulnerable refugees from the trauma of their homeland and their path to thriving (Assistant Professor Jennifer McCleary);
  5. The vulnerability of young women to sexual assault and other traumatic experiences (Assistant Professor Heather Storer);
  6. The vulnerability of children and women to abusive fathers and partners (Fred Buttell);
  7. Addressing the vulnerability of young African American girls through mother-daughter interaction (Associate Professor Marva Lewis);
  8. Addressing the vulnerabilities of MSW students through a 3-week emersion program (Professor Ron Marks);
  9. The vulnerability of torture survivors and effective treatments for the harm done (Kurzweg Chair and Professor Charles Figley).

These research projects would not be possible without the School of Social Work staff, clinical faculty, and the units (Academy, Center, Institutes). Moreover, what is discussed and taught in the courses of the School informs the research done by both faculty and students. The scholarship emerging from the research, through books and articles, informs the next update of what is taught in the classrooms and practice through supervision, training, and community actions.

Explore the Waves of Innovation

Academic Cycle

Learn how the Academic Cycle continues to create new knowledge through research and scholarship.

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View our Research Publications, where our findings have become a resource for the Social Work community.

View Publications


See what our Faculty are currently researching.

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