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The second phase of the Circle of Insight process invites us to reflect. It requires that we critically and constructively apply our learning, ethical principles, research, and multidisciplinary knowledge to the reality observed in the Circle’s first phase. This step explores the interconnectedness of theory and fact, each informing the other. The social work profession looks to NASW, CSWE, IFSW, IASSW and other association social justice principles, statements, reports, and standards, as well as social work social justice research, theory, and practice knowledge, to help shape our questions and reflection.  Thus, learning and theory are both applied and cultivated.  

To continue with our immigration example, in this phase, we might ask questions such as:

  • What do our NASW or IFSW ethical statements, or social work experience and research, have to teach us about immigration policy or treatment of immigrants?

  • What questions about dignity and equity do they require that we ask?

  • What are the implications for how we understand the issue of immigration in the U.S. in light of social work’s commitment to accompany the vulnerable, oppressed, and disadvantaged?  


As part of our class, students engaged this phase by applying social work principles, research, and statements pertaining to social work’s core values and professional commitment to social justice, dignity and worth of the person, and importance of human relationships (NASW, 2017).


They also reflected on research and learnings from social workers, as well as liberation educators and social justice advocates, such as: Jody Williams, and her notion of empowerment, especially for women (Williams, Nobel Women's Intiative); bell hooks, and her notion of caring for the souls of students (hooks, 1994); Thich Nhat Hanh, and his understanding of interbeing, our inherent interconnectedness with all persons and the environment; Desmond Tutu and Wangari Maathai, and their understanding of the African indigenous concept of Ubuntu, a belief in the universal bond that unites all humanity; and Dr. King, and his notions of agape/selfless love, and beloved community


Students’ critical reflection, learning, and application of this learning, helped them understand that the university’s failure to declare itself a sanctuary school was unjust and inconsistent with its commitment to social work core values. It clarified the need for response, redress, and restorative action.

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