Authors: Corcoran, L., Exner-Cortens, D., & Wells, L.
Advancing Healthy and Socially Just Schools and Communities is a four-course graduate certificate
program collaboratively developed by an interdisciplinary team comprised of faculty from the fields
of Social Work and Education at a Canadian university. The aim of this program is to facilitate
systems-level change through enhancing the knowledge and skills of graduate students from
disciplines such as social work, education, and nursing who work with youth in schools and
communities. The ultimate goal of this systems-level change is promotion of healthy youth
relationships and prevention of violence. The topics for the four courses in the program include the
following: promoting healthy relationships and preventing interpersonal violence, recognizing and
counteracting oppression and structural violence, addressing trauma and building resilience, and
fostering advocacy and community in the context of social justice. The development and pedagogy
of the certificate program are described, along with findings from a pilot study designed to examine
the utility and feasibility of the initial certificate offering. Experiences with the program to date
highlight the potential for improvements in graduate students’ attitudes, beliefs, and confidence
regarding what constitutes violence and their role in responding to it.