The impacts of global capitalism and neoliberalism on higher education can reduce the social work curriculum to competency-based skills acquisition rather than critically reflective, transformative learning. This encourages the promotion of establishment social work approaches aimed at accepting the status quo, rather than critical forms of social work that critique the dominant social structures and power relations that cause broad social divisions. The marginalisation of critical approaches reshapes social work towards conservative, market-led demands, yet an explicitly critical social work curriculum is pivotal to the claim of social work as an emancipatory project. This article presents original research that discusses the impact of an Australia critical social work programme on students’ development as agents of change. The findings suggest that developing a curriculum based on critical social science, and using critical pedagogical processes, assists students/graduates to work effectively for social justice and promotes their participation in collective social action.
Critical and Radical Social Work / Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.39-57