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Sci-fi Cartoon Helps Prompt Discussion on Social Work Ethics

A scene from Sean Schroeder's cartoon "Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work."

A scene from Sean Schroeder’s cartoon “Social Work Ethical Dilemmas.”

Imagine two robots from an alien world “somewhere in the galaxy far, far away” plan to visit Earth.

And these robots want to learn about special humans called social workers who are “agents of positive change on the planet” and use the National Association of Social Workeers Code of Ethics to do their work.

That is exactly what social work student Sean Schroeder, MSW, did when he created a training cartoon, “Social Work Ethical Dilemmas”,¬† for his class at Walla Walla University in Washington state. Shroeder, who also studied film, had the robots discuss ethically challenging situations.

“It was just something to facilitate discussion in our classroom when we talked about ethical dilemmas,” he said.

Shroeder was a teaching/research assistant for Professor Heather Vonderfecht, PhD, who thought film would be a good way to teach social work students. So Shroeder used the Xtranormal website to create the film. He put pauses in the dialogue so he could pause the film  for class discussions.

Even the names of the robots — SW 99362 and SW 99324 — have a social work angle. SW of course stands for social worker and the numbers are the zip codes for Walla Walla, Wash. and College Place, Wash.

Schroeder said he also used the robot characters for films on suicide prevention and assessment and preventing social work career burnout.

After graduating Shroeder worked as a social worker for the Veterans Administration for 18 months. He now produces videos for the Air Force.

He posted the ethics cartoon on Youtube in February. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it has received over 1,500 views thus far,” he said.

The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics is celebrating its 55th Anniversary over the next year. Visit this website to learn more about it.

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