Interim Director of Research, Dr. Sunshine Rote

Dr. Sunshine Rote

The mission of the Kent School of Social Work and Family Science is to address complex social problems through education, research and service to create a just and better world.  So, how do we do this through our research? Through education we prepare our students to address the challenges their clients and our societies face, and through our service we provide our expertise and best thinking  to the university, the agencies seeking to respond to those same social problems, and the communities in which we interact. It is through our research, though that we forge ahead to develop new knowledge.

The social problems we face have no easy solution, and we will not make needed headway by continuing to do the same things we have always done.  We need to understand why individuals, groups and communities struggle with these problems, what contributes to them, and how we can best respond. This is why we must engage in research.

Kent faculty are fortunate to receive support from multiple state and federal agencies, as well as private foundations and internal university funds. There are several things that characterize the research we are doing:

    • It is collaborative. We cannot adequately study these problems alone—we work in teams with each other, researchers from other universities, practitioners and others to determine what we should study, how we should do it and how to interpret what we learn from our research.
    • It is participatory.  We need the engagement of the community, agencies seeking to address these problems and the individuals who struggle with them to examine the right research questions in a way that can make a difference.

It is grounded in the real world. Social workers and others in the field are working to address social problems in the complex contexts in which they occur. It is our goal, then to produce research findings that provide them with tools that work in those settings with real people.