Inaugural Racial Equity Fellow: Dr. Alexis Jemal

Dr. Alexis Jemal is an Associate Professor at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Alexis has advanced degrees in Social Work (MSW, PhD), law (JD), and applied theatre (MA). She is also on doctoral faculty in Social Welfare at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research expertise is in cultural-responsive, trauma-informed, and healing centered practice to attack the causes and heal the effects of dehumanization that manifests in internalized, interpersonal, and structural violence. Specifically, her work aims to: 1) develop critical consciousness and to transform that consciousness into critical action to eradicate ideologies and practices of domination that produce socio-health inequities from the molecular to the macro for racial, gender, and sexual minorities, and 2) use art-based, critical participatory action intervention research to translate theory into practice and develop holistic social-enterprise interventions for socio-health equity. Lastly, Alexis also studies social work education and her research informs her practice as a critical-radical social work educator.

Project Description: In Spring 2020, Professor Jemal designed and piloted an elective course, Critical Social Work: Bridging the Micro-Macro Divide. A publication, co-authored by a student from this inaugural class, discussed the concrete strategies used to create more inclusive classroom environments, build community, and bring joy into the learning process (Jemal & Frasier, 2021). In essence, the course was designed to combat White Supremacy in the curriculum and educational environment. One strategy Dr. Jemal incorporated was the introduction of Applied Theatre as a learning tool and practice method for developing critical consciousness. In Spring 2021, Professor Jemal with two collaborators from her Master of Arts in Applied Theatre (MAAT) program revised the course to fully integrate Applied Theatre to address racial equity in the classroom, institution, and social work practice from both systemic and individual perspectives.  This course was grounded in Professor Jemal’s Visionary, Philosophical Activist Framework that facilitates the development of awareness and then transforms that awareness into action. In this course, students were challenged through experiential learning activities to develop critical action projects on a topic related to their social work practice interests using Applied Theatre techniques they learned in class. For Spring 2023, students’ group projects will pertain to race in the curriculum. One or more of their projects will be selected as an ACERT seminar.


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