Harnessing Technology for Social Good- Lecture Series

The University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign School of Social Work is holding a year-long lecture series designed to meet the profession’s grand challenge of harnessing technology for social good.

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The American Academy for Social Work and Social Welfare spearheaded the Grand Challenges of Social Work, representing 12 challenges focused on improving individual and family well-being, strengthening the social fabric, and helping create a more just society. This lecture series, named after the grand challenge of “Harnessing Technology for Social Good” is designed to present innovative applications of technology powered by science in order to expand new opportunities and collaborations for reaching more people with greater impact on society’s most vexing social problems.

Registration is required for each date. These events are free and open to the public. Lunch is provided. Attendance is capped at 30 people per seminar except for the May 2nd event which will be held in a larger space. Register early to attend.

Can’t attend? View each event live by visiting: go.illinois.edu/socialwork_techseries or by clicking the link below.

Livestream Remotely

Community Data Science Approaches to Gang Violence Prevention

Desmond Upton Patton, Associate Professor, Columbia University Social Work

May 2, 2019 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work Room 2015

Dr. Patton focuses on community violence and social media, and the ways in which youth and young adults of color navigate violence in their communities and on social media platforms. His research utilizes qualitative and computational methods—e.g., interview-based studies, collaborative projects with data scientists—to examine how youth and young adults living in violent urban neighborhoods experience, navigate and respond to community violence in their neighborhood as well on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more about Dr. Patton




Past Technology Series Lectures

Gay/Bisexual Men of Color and Online Discrimination

Ryan Wade, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Social Work

September 6, 2018 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2019

Dr. Wade investigates the phenomenon of Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD) on gay hook-up apps/websites and examines the association between RSD and psychological well-being among gay/bisexual men of color. Dr. Wade’s work includes a broad focus on structural and community-level racism, the racial patterning of sexual/social networks within LGBTQ communities, and health disparities among gay/bisexual men. This talk will examine how technology can serve as a critical tool to social life for gay/bisexual men and at the same time instigate racialized discrimination.

Video link coming soon.

Health Behavior and Health Behavior Change in the Context of Digital Communication

Dolores Albarracin, Professor, University of Illinois, Psychology

October 4, 2018 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Dr. Albarracin’s research investigates attitudes, behavior, and social cognition at both micro- and macro-levels of analysis (cognitive processes, culture, ethnicity). This research has important real-world implications that she has explored with the help of grants from the National Institutes of Health. Her hope is that exploring these processes will increase behaviors that are in the best interest of individuals and the society in which they live.

Watch Now

Harnessing Technology for Social Good: Virtual Conversation Training for Clients and Clinicians

matthew_smith_imageMatthew Smith, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Social Work

November 6, 2018 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Dr. Smith’s research interests focus on developing and evaluating technology-based interventions that can be delivered in high schools and community mental health centers to improve community-based outcomes for transition-age youth with educational disabilities and adults with severe mental illness and/or other disabilities. He is also interested in developing and evaluating technology-based tools to enhance the clinical education of social work students. Lastly, he is interested in studying the social neuroscience and community-based functioning of individuals with schizophrenia.

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Health Care Training in a Virtual Reality Environment

Rosalba Hernandez, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Social Work

December 6, 2018 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Dr. Hernandez’s interests are in exploring the link between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health, particularly in underserved minority populations. She explores whether characteristics like optimism and resilience are associated with low-risk cardiovascular disease profiles, and whether interventions geared toward increasing psychological well-being can favorably impact subclinical and clinical manifestations of disease. Dr. Hernandez’s goal is to employ theories from positive psychology to help inform primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Hispanic/Latino and African American adults.

Watch Now

New Frontiers in Naturalistic Observation: Electronic Tablets for In-Home Observations of Parents and Children

William Schneider, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Social Work

February 7, 2019 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Dr. Schneider’s research examines the influence of macroeconomic factors, family complexity and fatherhood, and interventions in the promotion of child well-being and the prevention of child maltreatment. ​ This presentation stems from a collaboration with Ariel Kalil in the Behavior Insights and Parenting Lab at the University of Chicago, which designs low cost parenting interventions, uses behavioral tools to change parenting behaviors, and tests parenting interventions in primarily low-income families.

Watch Now

Development and Execution of Design-led Intervention for Social Good, Operation Compass

Lisa Mercer, Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator of Graphic Design, University of Illinois School of Art + Design

March 7, 2019 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Lisa Mercer is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator of Graphic Design in the School of Art + Design. She is the founder of Operation Compass, an ethnographic research study concerned with developing design-led interventions to combat the complex social issue of human trafficking. She will discuss the different phases of this work from the initial leading question: how could a modified form of technology enable truck drivers to report suspected instances of human trafficking at a higher rate? To the current phase of research focused on long-term interdisciplinary partnerships that have provide collaborations and a continuation of scalable design interventions, especially in the arena of social impact in the complex social issue of human trafficking.

Watch Now

Project nGage: The Feasibility and Efficacy of a Dyadic Social Support Intervention to Retain HIV Positive Young Black Men in HIV Primary Care

Alida Bouris, Associate Professor, University of Chicago, School of Social Administration

April 4, 2019 (12-1 p.m. CST)
School of Social Work, Room 2015

Dr. Bouris focses on understanding the relationship between social context and adolescent health, with a particular emphasis on how parents and families can help prevent HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unplanned pregnancies among marginalized youth aged 10-24 years old. Her goal is to develop effective interventions that capitalize on the strengths of families and other supportive persons in the lives of young people. She is Co-Director of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (CCHE) and of the Behavioral, Social, and Implementation Sciences Core of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research. 

Video Link Coming Soon

The School of Social Work is located on the 2nd floor of 1010 W. Nevada St. Urbana, IL
Please e-mail Judy Havlicek