​Dr. Michael Henson ​('21) is the first SWAN ​program Ph.D. graduate


Dr. Henson HeadshotWe are proud to announce that Dr. Michael Henson, who was awarded his Ph.D. in the summer of 2021, ​is the first graduate of the interdisciplinary Social Work and Anthropology ​(SWAN) doctoral program.

Henson’s dissertation, “Exploring the Unintended Consequences of Training Programs for Child Welfare Specialists,” is a synthesis of theory and methods at the intersection of anthropology and social work that develops strategic insights into how to redesign the internal workings of critical public agencies. By integrating insights into conflicts among multiple social structures and institutions, his work clarifies the socialization of child protective service students as they move from novice to expert practitioners.

Dr. Henson's research documents the complex transformations that new social worker child welfare specialists confront in mediating contradictions between professional and wider societal norms. His work has relevance to several social service professions and organizational contexts.

This fall ​Dr. Henson​accepted a position at Florida State University as a postdoctoral scholar in the Florida Institute for Child Welfare (FICW).

WSU launched the SWAN program in 2013. SWAN is notable as one of the first trans-disciplinary programs in social work and anthropology in the nation. The SWAN program pairs the global approach of anthropology with the hands-on skills and policy enacting know-how taught in the field of social work. As SWAN program co-founder Dr. Andrea Sankar noted, "[T]he idea (of SWAN) is to break down silos in doctoral training because we need interdisciplinary thinking to solve major urban issues like poverty and the opioid crisis – you can't do that with one discipline."

Detroit acts as a unique training ground for ​SWAN students because the city already exemplifies many of the opportunities and challenges posed by burgeoning urbanism elsewhere in the world. SWAN also trains students in a wide range of disciplinary skills to position them for a range of career options when they enter the job market​after graduation.

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