Dr. Meg S. Paceley awarded 2022 Gene A. and Gretchen Budig Award for Excellence in Teaching

The KU School of Social Welfare is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 Gene A. and Gretchen Budig Award for Excellence in Teaching. This year’s recipient demonstrates excellence in their teaching methods, offers unique mentorship and availability to students during this time, and contributes substantially to the BSW, MSW, and/or doctoral programs in which their teaching focuses. This year’s Budig Award recipient is Meg S. Paceley.

In recognition of contributions to students in the KU School of Social Welfare and to the elevation of justice in social work education more broadly, Dr. Meg Paceley is honored with the Budig Award for Excellence in Teaching. Meg describes her teaching philosophy this way, “I utilize a critical pedagogy to guide my teaching, with the aim of de-centering privileged identities, emphasizing historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, and deconstruct the role that power and privilege have played in knowledge production and social work education and practice.” Meg’s teaching works to facilitate growth among students by “modeling equitable leadership and teaching practices, promoting active engagement in justice and equity, and engaging with critical self-awareness practices in the classroom and course assignments.” While modeling equitable teaching practices, Meg names these practices for students, which allows them to see how they might relate to their future social work practice.

To minimize her own power, most of Meg’s assignments provide options for students to choose the format and/or focus that best meets their learning style and needs. For example, in SW 873, the final assignment gives students the option of format and focus. In a BSW course, Meg created a “choose your own social justice adventure” assignment where students engaged in low stakes assignments to both learn about and promote social justice. Options include a “social justice bingo” game where students read the news media to find social justice related topics (e.g. anti-trans rhetoric, healthcare access/affordability, gender-based violence) and a “meme this” activity where students create social justice oriented memes.

Among Meg’s instructional innovations are the incorporation of arts-based pedagogy and ungrading practices. These approaches have often contributed to a classroom context supportive of growth. For example, to intervene in challenging dynamics in a section of SW 873, Meg created a class activity that required students to engage in the creation

of art to represent their learning about gender & sexuality up to that point. “Students talked and laughed and listened to music while creating posters, paintings, masks, and poetry and then shared them with each other. The classroom dynamic shifted after that class.” Meg has experimented with different approaches to ungrading, most of which involve intensive feedback, grading assignments as complete instead of with points, and providing opportunities for revision and resubmission.

The Budig Award also recognizes Meg’s work to impact social work education more broadly. Here, in addition to publishing several recent articles describing innovations to and evaluations of courses, exploring the role of LGBTQ social work students and faculty, and examining the experiences of students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Meg recently took the lead in organizing and facilitating a national town hall on anti-trans policies and social work education (on March 31), which included six national speakers and attracted nearly 500 registrants.