USC department of social work bans the word ‘field’ due to potential slavery connotations

Jan 11, 2023 | Political News

The University of Southern California's School of Social Work announced on Monday that it would be removing the word “field” from its curriculum and practice, replacing it with the word “practicum.”

A letter published by the department explains that the decision is designed to reflect the “anti-racist” values of social work and to promote the use of “inclusive language.

“This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” the letter stated.

“Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field' or ‘field work' may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign,” it added.

The letter adds that the department's goal is “to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies.”

Houman David Hemmati, an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at USC Keck School of Medicine, shared a copy of the letter on Monday evening on Twitter, saying, “Today, @uscsocialwork sent out this letter announcing that they will no longer use the word ‘field' (as in ‘conducting field work') because it's perceived as racist. Is this with merit or empty virtue signaling?”

He added that “A lot changed after recent scandals with med Dean (prostitutes/meth on campus), mass molestor campus doctor and admissions bribery. Much of the leadership replaced with ultra woke. Sad to see.”

In an attempt to clarify the decision, interim dean of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Vassilios Papadopoulos, told Fox News that he understands that “this decision was made by the Office of Practicum Education out of a desire to more accurately describe its work.” 

“Because the Office is not an academic department, its name change was not subject to a formal review process. The university does not maintain a list of ‘banned' or discouraged words. As an institution of higher education, we will continue to use words – including the word ‘field' – that accurately encompass and describe our work and research, while also continuing our efforts to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.”