Salem State Professor Elspeth Slayter of the School of Social Work has been awarded a 2020 Marion and Jasper Whiting Award for her project: Disability culture, stigma and services in Sri Lanka: Fostering a globalized social welfare workforce.
Slayter applied for the Whiting Award in an attempt to challenge herself to focus her research on a region that was unfamiliar to her, and to visit somewhere she had never traveled before. Sri Lanka was an ideal choice, particularly due to the high percentage of disabled war veterans residing in the country after their recent civil war. Slayter says that as a result of the war, Sri Lankans have responded with very thoughtful and creative new approaches to disability services, as well as how they educate their social workers.
Slayter plans to travel to Sri Lanka in Spring of 2021, and connect with the sole Sri Lankan School of Social Work at the National Institute of Social Development, to build a collaborative relationship with social work faculty who teach disability content, do research, and participate in community service for people with disabilities. She will also meet with three Sri Lankan disability service agencies: Sri Lanka Humanity & Inclusion, Sri Lanka My Right, and The Sri Lanka Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, and interview disability service providers about their work.
With this research, Slayter intends to develop a presentation and a manuscript for a peer-reviewed academic journal that compares disability culture and services in Sri Lanka and the U.S. for use in developing lectures, trainings and consulting opportunities for the social welfare workforce.
Slayter hopes this project will allow her to expand her scholarly horizons by learning about Sri Lankan disability culture and disability services in order to infuse international content into her courses. She also hopes to learn about disability culture and disability stigma in Sri Lanka in order to better provide educational programming to social welfare workers in Massachusetts.