Earlier this month, The New York Times published an editorial by Andy Harris, a physician concerned about the lack of National Institutes of Health funding flowing to young and innovative researchers. Dr. Harris cautioned that too many new and unproven ideas go unfunded to society’s detriment. In September, the Boston College School of Social Work’s own Dean of Research, David Takeuchi, wrote in the Boston Globe about the dangers of politicizing innovation, citing a dangerous spiral of ever-narrowing definitions of acceptable social research.
These lost opportunities are concerning to me as a social change-maker and MSW student. As social justice agents, social workers recognize that evaluative measures and professional practices are parallel processes. Our profession teaches us that true human dignity and worth and the inspiration required to herald those qualities cannot be measured or cultivated in this new authorizing environment. Relying exclusively on quantifiable outcome measures is not in the best interests of social service providers or their clients.
Here are some critical questions:
- What do you think of this trend towards outcome quantification? Should social workers be concerned?
- Have you had inspirations or innovative ideas left unfulfilled because they were untried or unquantifiable?
- Professor Takeuchi mentioned the dangers of the politicization of research. What other social institutions are threatening to bias or otherwise curtail the free expression of research?
Please voice your thoughts in the comments section below!
Ian Witherby is an MSW candidate at BC Social Work, and Innovate’s first student blogger.