Social Work Program Hosts Two-Day 'Social Work in the Mercy Tradition' Conference

On Tuesday, October 19 and Wednesday, October 20, GMercyU's Bachelor of Social Work program hosted its first annual "Social Work in the Mercy Tradition" conference, made possible by a grant from the Council on Social Work Education's Katherine A. Kendall Institute.

Two other Mercy universities, Salve Regina University and Carlow University, co-hosted the virtual event, which drew more than 150 social work students, faculty, and alumni from the 16 accredited Mercy social work programs in the Conference for Mercy Higher Education.

This year's conference theme was "Global Perspectives in Social Work," with the goal of inspiring more future social workers to make a difference abroad.

"We encourage you, as students, to become global citizens who value human rights and seek innovative ways to engage in ethical international partnerships that advance human rights," said Janice Nuss, MSW, LCSW, Assistant Professor & Director of Field Education of GMercyU's Social Work program, during her opening remarks.

Ten discussions took place over the two-day conference, kicking off with "Fostering Global Citizenship Through Connectedness" featuring Dr. Karen Rice of Millersville University. In the discussion, Dr. Rice stressed that volunteers should collaborate with the individuals whom they're helping, rather than imposing your ideas as the best way of handling things. "The collaboration should be driven by members of the host country; they should be educating us, rather than we educating them. We're just there to provide extra hands," said Dr. Rice.

"We need to constantly reflect on our decision-making and choices. For example, don't stay at a place where there's hot water if they don't have access to it - that says you're more worthy than them," Dr. Rice suggested. "Or, instead of shopping for supplies at a place like Walmart, shop at the local mom and pop store to support local businesses and people."

Other discussions in the conference included:

  • "Widening the Historic Circle: The contribution of women religious to the development of social work," hosted by Wade Luquet, PhD, Professor and Program Director of GMercyU's Social Work program
  • "Ethical Engagement at Home and Abroad," hosted by Jessica Friedrichs, MSW, MPA of Carlow University
  • "Ubuntu: Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness," hosted by Dr. Wanja Ogongi, Millersville University
  • "The Critical Concerns of Mercy, Social Work, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," hosted by Janice Nuss, MSW LCSW

The conference also included several student panels, such as "Think Global, Act Local: How you can be a global citizen from home," where students shared their experiences with international projects and discussed the idea that you don't have to travel overseas to engage in global advocacy.

In that discussion, GMercyU BSW student Sigfredo Amaya '23 - who was recently elected as Student Representative for the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Social Workers - encouraged other students to join a virtual roundtable that he is coordinating for the NASW, where students can share their work and goals. "As social workers, your education is important, but so are your connections and growing as a person and growing your self-confidence; it will help you change your community and your global work if that's what you're interested in."

Sigfredo will travel to Jamaica this spring to work with Mustard Seed Communities as part of GMercyU's Interprofessional Global Outreach course.

Interested in social work and want to watch a recording of one of the discussions mentioned above? Contact Janice Nuss at