The “Action Lab” at the Columbia School of Social Work is a new lab that builds on our rapidly developed COVID-19 ACTION initiative, designed to produce psychoeducation and social policy training for thousands of local and national community members, as well as a volunteer matching service for local community, non-profit, and social service agencies across New York City. The new and broader Action Lab would expand and amplify research and scholarship on social justice, social welfare actions, policies, and programs.

The immediate and foreseeable long-term effects of COVID-19 shine light on existing inequalities related to poverty, mental health, unemployment, access to health care, protection by state forces, and political representation, particularly for systematically marginalized communities such as Black Americans, Latinx Americans, Native Americans and incarcerated people. One element of the Action Lab will be an “Ethics in Action” initiative, leveraging the ethics of social work practice that includes enhancing their well-being and ensuring that all are able to reach their full potential. We will accomplish this aim through three core focal areas: education, research, and practice.

The education unit will develop new virtual ethics and action-oriented curricula for undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia and for our local neighbors. The practice arm will advance partnerships with our local field agencies, offering free volunteer consultation and support related to COVID-19 as well as supporting social justice initiatives so as to address inequalities at the core. The research unit will build on the strong foundation of social-justice-based research at CSSW ranging from promoting anti-racism to reducing opioid deaths, to the consequences of current health policies, to eliminating poverty and economic equality, to name just a few.

The “Action Lab” is a safe, inclusive,  and ethical social justice launchpad for students, scholars, and faculties of CSSW in association with activists and organizations across the country and globe. 

The “Action Lab” is led by students and periodically mentored by faculties of CSSW. The Action Lab Committees will collectively prioritize and respond to social justice issues on a timely basis with appropriate ethical standards and social work principles. 

Our current priorities are:

  1. COVID-19 and Systemic Inequalities
  2. Promote Anti-Racism