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Have you ever seen a large problem you wished we could just solve already? There are many: poverty, homelessness, racism, hunter. The list goes on. Huge issues like these require people to step up to the plate and dismantle oppressive systems and construct better ones. Social workers have been doing this since their conception; however, engagement in these areas have been dwindling over the past decades. TCI was born in 2014 to help combat this by training the next generation of civically engaged social workers while conducting research and working with communities in Utah to create change. It is now overdue for an evaluation so can grow and better serve people. To do this we needed to find out what challenges communities are facing and what kind of assistance they need to create change! Also, we needed to find out why students are not engaging in macro practice and what we can do to enhance their experiences with macro practice. Building upon a quantitative survey study, we opted to conducted semi-structured group interviews with decision makers in each community in which USU serves, current USU social work students and the alumni. Participants in these interviews selected their top issues for discussion during these interviews. We did all the fun processing and coded our data by categorical theming. The communities that had enough interest to conduct an interview Blanding, Logan, Moab, Price, Tooele, and Uintah Basin. There was some overlap between the communities especially on; however, each community is different so there isn’t time to go over them all. To give an idea of the type of data we gathered I will be using Logan! Housing was found to be a large issue. There is a low stock of affordable housing available, high rental rates often prevent saving people from saving for homeownership, and substandard housing disproportionately impacts immigrants and refugees.There was a large concern with people from different backgrounds feeling welcome. There is a lot of fear of people who are different from the dominate culture, a dismissive political climate is increasing ignorance and negative beliefs and stereotypes, and there is a strong desire for there to be more outreach and engagement in this area. Also, mental health problems are rising or the recognition of them is at least. A lack of access to quality mental health is noted, and there is a strong desire for barriers and mental health stigma to continue to be removed. For the engaging students in macro practice, we found that there is also a stigma there to macro practice being difficult and that there will be few jobs available. Interest from students has increased when they received hands on assignments and real-life experiences in and out of class. Things that they would like to see to make macro social work learning better include things like increasing awareness of macro practice options for work and having more practicums in the area available. In addition, the curriculum could be improved by evening out macro and micro practice focuses and offer an increased opportunities for engagement with macro practice, the community and research. Since there is a need in the communities and students seem to show interest in having macro practice experiences, TCI will be using the data gathered for strategic planning to assess ways that they can engage students in ways by offering more experiences that assist the communities in which they live.

Publication Date



Logan, UT


community engagement, mental health, homelessness, social work


Social Work

Re-Envisioning Transforming Communities Initiative

Included in

Social Work Commons