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University department removes word ‘field’ over racist ‘connotations’

The US university department of American University has stated that it removed the term “field” from their curriculum due to possible racist “connotations”.

According to a letter from University of Southern California’s School of Social Work (USC), the new phrase will be removed.

It explained that it had made the decision to replace the term “field” from its curriculum and practice with “practicum”.

“This change supports antiracist social work practice by replacing anti-Black and anti-immigrant language with inclusive language.


“Language is powerful. Phrases like “going into the field” or “field work” may have negative connotations for descendants from slavery and immigrants.

This letter was addressed to students and staff from the “Practicum Education Department”, formerly known as the Field Education Department.

It said, “Our goal isn’t just to change language but also to honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject anti-immigrant or white supremacy ideologies.”

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“We are aware that changing terminology can be difficult and will require some time.

According to USC’s Suzanne Dworak–Peck School for Social Work, it said that it is “joining other universities in making these changes”.

Vassilios Papadopoulos, the interim dean of the school, stated that “I understand that the Office of Practicum Education made this decision out of a desire for more accurately describe their work.”

“Because this Office is not an academic unit, the name change was not subjected to formal review.

“The university doesn’t keep a list of words that are ‘banned or discouraged.

“As an institution for higher education, we will use words, including the term ‘field, to accurately describe and describe our work and research while also continuing to make the environment more welcoming and inclusive for all.

USC’s move comes after Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that it would no longer use the terms “field” and a “field worker” and instead use terms like “local office” and “community staff”.

It stated in a memo that “staff and stakeholders have raised concerns regarding the use of the term “field worker” and its implications for descendants from Black and Brown individuals.”

The memo states that “While widespread usage of this term is not meant to be harmful, it cannot be ignored the effect its use has on employees.” “Establishing a shared language is crucial to our collective success.”


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