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Social Worker Aims to Prepare Students for Global Practice

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With a desire to train the next generation of social workers, Michelle Martin joins Cal State Fullerton as an assistant professor of social work this fall.

Martin has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University, a master of social work degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a master of science in global policy studies from the University of Bristol in England, and a doctorate in peace studies from the University of Bradford in England.

What inspired you to go into the field of social work?

My first position after college was in the social services field, and I was hooked. I found myself drawn to populations that were underserved and in large part invisible. I also appreciate the ability to “recreate” one’s self as new interests and passions evolve.

What are your research interests?

I have many interests within the social work discipline, but my research focuses primarily on peace and justice issues within diaspora populations, particularly those generated from conflict situations. Specifically, I am interested in how diaspora use social media to express their transnational identity, migration experiences, trauma narratives and orientation to homeland. I am also interested in how women within migrant populations contribute to peace processes in their homelands. I am a qualitative internet researcher and use virtual ethnography as my research approach.

How do you engage students in your classes and/or research?

One of the primary ways I engage students is by empowering them to be active participants in class: expressing their ideas freely, asking questions, challenging positions (even mine!), and sharing their own passions. I also engage students in my research, whenever possible.

What changes do you envision in your field five years from now?

Social work is becoming more globally-situated. Even if students never leave their home communities, they will likely be practicing international social work in some respect since many of our clients will likely be from other countries. As social work educators, I believe we must strive to expand our own global horizons and infuse global issues into our curriculum.

Name one thing you do to stay healthy.

I’m becoming a regular yoga practitioner. I even started practicing stand up paddle yoga, which is very relaxing once one masters how to remain on the board! I’m also a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, where I write about my personal insights on being a woman in middle age, in the context of relationships and parenting.

See the complete list of new tenure-track faculty members joining CSUF this fall.