Letter in Support of Alan Dettlaff

As members of the Social Work Action Network-International to express our concern about
the recent removal of Professor Alan Dettlaff from his post as Dean of the Graduate College
of Social Work, at the University of Huston.
SWAN-I is a network of social workers and social work organisations from across the globe
committed to social work for social justice. Our international network draws together
nationally based groups of social work researchers, educators and practitioners campaigning
for a more just world.
Professor Dettlaff is a leading scholar and political activist whose work on racial justice and
the abolitionist perspective has inspired social work academics, students and practitioners
all over the world.
At a time when our global profession confronts legacies of colonialism and oppression and
explores its own histories of complicity and resistance, the abolitionist perspective and
movement provide a crucial theoretical and practice-based tool for analysis and praxis.
In this global debate, conversations about abolitionist practice are both necessary and
important. Professor Dettlaff, through the co-creation of spaces for critical discussion and
research, has demonstrated that social work should be aware of the needs and voices of
communities and social workers must be prepared to speak truth to power.
SWAN-I stands in solidarity with Professor Dettlaff and all University of Houston staff and
students who share the perspective that all injustices that individuals and communities face
in this world are rooted in the colonial past and current socioeconomic and political
inequalities and related social problems that must be addressed collectively and politically.
It is for these reasons that we express our concern about Prof Dettlaff’s dismissal and we
ask the senior leadership of the University of Huston to reconsider its decision to remove
Professor Dettlaff from the Dean role and ensure that the Graduate College of Social Work
remains a global hub for research and learning about the abolitionist and radical social work

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We want to develop a network of service users, practicitioners, academics and students to support radical and progressive social work. We need a social work that is ready to challenge oppressive practice, that means working collectively across the country and internationally to advance Social Work.