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People :: Alumni :: Patricia MacKenzie

P MacKenzie

Patricia Anne MacKenzie

PhD in Social Work 2000

Graduated: 2000

After obtaining my MSW degree from the University of British Columbia, I worked as a medical social worker in Canada from 1975 to 1988. In 1988 I obtained my first faculty position as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1994 I was granted educational leave from this position to enrol in the PhD program in Social Work at Edinburgh University.  I chose Edinburgh because of the possibility of focusing my PhD program in social work and ageing populations. I also chose Edinburgh University because my family are Scots (we are from Benbecula in the Western Isles) and because it is located in a beautiful city.

I began the PhD program in 1994 and took several courses at the beginning, often in the company of other grad students from Nursing, Sociology and Social Policy. I did not meet many other grad students doing a higher degree in social work and I regret this. I was quite lonely and I experienced several issues in locating good accommodation.  I remained in Edinburgh until late 1995 and then returned to Saskatchewan to complete my fieldwork and do data analysis. This took longer than expected! I finally defended my dissertation in October 1999.  Sincere thanks to Susan Hunter and Dr. Chris Clark for their patience and guidance. I really regret not going to graduation but I did purchase the fabulous Edinburgh University doctoral robes including the John Knox style hat. I wear these robes proudly at least twice per year at the graduation ceremonies at the University where I currently work.

Just prior to defending my dissertation in October 1999, I was offered a position as Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada.  From 1999 to 2003 I was a faculty member in the School of Social Work. In 2002 I was appointed as the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria. I remained in that position for 10 years  (until 2013).   At the conclusion of that 10 year period I returned to my full time faculty position in the School of Social Work, where I remain today.

I have been very involved at the local and national level in social work practice and social work education.  I have served on the national Commission on Accreditation for the Canadian Association of Social Work Education since 2010.  I have also served on several other national boards related to social work.

Social work  practice and social work education has faced many changes and challenges over the  40 years in which I have been a social worker. Social work education has responded well to some of these challenges and changes and not  at all to others.   The task for both the profession of social work and social work education is to:

  • make  more space and place for diverse voices 
  • guard against perpetrating a Eurocentric, westernized hegemonic
  • critically question the assumptions and biases that continue to shape social services
  • know how to navigate the uncertainty and ambiguity of  social work practice
  • be both humble and brave
  • work for socially just social work in both big and little ways every day.

Source: own contribution (29.3.2017)