College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

Critical Dialogue on the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis: Systematic Racism, Human Rights and Environmental and Economic Justice

For the second consecutive year, our incoming class began their orientation with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) training that oriented the students to diversity, tolerance, and our CSUMB institutional response to racism and other forms of oppression. Led by CSUMB alum Steven Goings, MSW, and lecturer Lynne White Dixon, LCSW, the training gave our incoming students an opportunity to explore the critical importance of one's own identity and the effective use of self in diverse settings.

The conversation then shifted to structural racism and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Small group activities built upon the assigned summer reading entitled, The Flint River Crisis: Systematic Racism Through the Eyes of Flint written by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. This book was a particularly powerful way to launch students from a critical race perspective. Discussion activities were structured in a manner that encouraged student engagement and finding one's voice within this environmental and economic justice issue including an application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students then followed-up with an essay assignment that focused on water in California and the variety of issues that we face today.

New student Avelina Charles and (Alum) Steven Goings, MSW engaging in active discussion.
Students report findings about structural racism and human rights in Flint, MI and beyond.