Richard M. Cooper, Widener University

Chester, Pennsylvania rxc0005@widener.edu Office: (610) 499-1134

Bio/Research

I happily choose to seek employment at Widener University after having been a "full time" professor at another regional university in metropolitan Philadelphia. Widener's mission, the Center for Social Work Education faculty and the clinical social work concentration were of particular interest t...

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Bio/Research

I happily choose to seek employment at Widener University after having been a "full time" professor at another regional university in metropolitan Philadelphia. Widener's mission, the Center for Social Work Education faculty and the clinical social work concentration were of particular interest to me. I was honored to join the School of Human Services Professions as a member of the faculty in 1998.

I hail from a semi-rural background in Southeastern Pennsylvania having been "up North" for at least the last 5 generations of my family. I was shaped, influenced and informed particularly by the struggles and advances of my parents and grandparents and the liberation movements of Africans in America and throughout the Diaspora. Themes of socio-economic class, social justice, politics, spirituality, gender identity, cultural diversity, corporate-youth and hip hop cultures, education and other emerging realities continue to influence and inform my professional practice, teaching, scholarship and community service.

I was "called to" the larger mission of the social work profession during an era that directly buttressed the civil rights movement. My professional work history as both a social worker and an educator has located me in various urban centers like for example: Coatesville, PA, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, Chester, PA and Wilmington, DE. All of these historically significant northern corridor cities that were built with cheap labor, immigrants, migrations, indigenous populations, and industrialization; now find themselves in deep decline. These once thriving cities and regions all face urban blithe, shrinking resources, unemployment, divisive politics, economic flight, crime, under funded public schools and decades of other forms of systemic decay. It is often social workers and other human services professionals that become the main service providers in these areas; thus the role of social work education in this region is key.

My life's work and teaching reflect the fact that the social work profession and our collective worldview must continue to construct positive realities that can and should be expressed about these public spaces and the people that inhibit them. Trained social workers and caring others should be expected to partner with these communities and create positive life sustaining changes. I am a social work educator-practitioner-advocate because I have a vested interest in witnessing these persons-in-the-environment not just simply survive but thrive. Working with BSW, MSW and Ph.D. seeking professionals is still an unexpected joy and helping to shape, guide and influence their careers remains a blessing.


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