Spotlight: Professor Stephanie Robert | UW-Madison School of Social Work

Spotlight: Professor Stephanie Robert | UW-Madison School of Social Work


I’m Stephanie Robert I’m a professor in the School of Social
Work and I’ve been here for 15 years. Before that I was a postdoctoral fellow
at the University of California Berkeley. When I was looking for jobs and schools
of social work, I was very interested in two things:
one, finding a place that was serious about research and teaching,
and another that had good family balance, and I’ve found both at Wisconsin which is why I’ve stayed
for fifteen years. We’re one of the premier schools of
social work that attends to research in the country, and I’ve found that the supportive
environment from my colleagues has meant that it’s been easy to raise my two
girls during my time here as a faculty member. One of the things I love about the
University of Wisconsin-Madison is its low walls, and by
low walls I mean we don’t only work within the School of
Social Work, and people in other departments don’t only work in their department. We get to
collaborate with each other across the board, and as a health
researcher it’s really important for me, and for my students and postdocs, to be able to collaborate with people
from all over the campus. My research is really focused on
understanding the many social and economic factors that affect people’s physical health and well-being.
So in particular much of my research has focused on
looking at how neighborhood context affects the health and well-being of individuals;
why it is that people living in a high-poverty neighborhood, for example, have worse health than people who don’t;
or living in a racially segregated neighborhood–why that’s not necessarily
good for your health. My work starts with the premise that social policy is health policy.
So in our country we act as if we…if we equalize access to
health care today we would all have better health. While it’s
very important to have equal access to health care and I’m
fully supportive of that, what we’ve learned is that social policy has a lot more to do with health than health care policy.
So if we improve poverty, if we improve people’s quality
education and access to education, that will go a lot further towards
improving people’s health and reducing racial and socioeconomic
disparities than if we only focus on equalizing
access to care. Students who are thinking about going
into social work need to know that this is one of the most honorable
professions there is. After going through social work
training, you have the opportunity to get paid to do what I think everybody interested in
society has some responsibility to do.

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