In 1921, the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents approved a formal curriculum in social work offered through LSA. One hundred years later, the School of Social Work is a leader in social justice and has been consistently ranked the No. 1 Master of Social Work program by U.S. News & World Report.

From its roots in Detroit and enduring commitment to social justice, the school’s focus has grown to include issues facing regional, national and global communities. National and world events have played an important role in the pedagogy at SSW — voting rights, the readjustment for veterans after World War II, the civil rights movement, the push for marriage equality and LBGTQ+ rights, racial justice and the threat of climate change.

The school has always been, and remains, deeply committed to addressing the most pressing issues facing society, such as structural racism, social justice and economic inequality. The Centennial Lecture series and the new, annual Social Justice Changemaker lecture, making its debut during the centennial celebration, seek to inspire the audience to take action and make social change.

The Centennial Lecture series brings together voices exploring social justice, social change and the arts intersection with social work. The centerpiece of the festivities is the Social Justice Changemaker Lecture featuring filmmaker Spike Lee and musician and educator Terence Blanchard at 4 p.m. April 7. In their virtual discussion, the pair will discuss “Creating Social Change Through Film and Music: Do the Right Thing!”

“We are excited to bring these two visionaries to the University of Michigan,” said Lynn Videka, the school’s dean. “Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard — both talented artists and prominent social justice activists — will discuss the power of art in activism and community change.”

In addition to the lectures, the school has planned a series of centennial celebrations that provide alumni, friends and the university community opportunity to gather, connect and reflect. As it begins its second century, the School of Social Work remains deeply committed to addressing the most pressing issues facing our society, such as structural racism, social justice and economic inequality.

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