A college division within the US has stated it has eliminated the phrase “field” from its curriculum as a result of it could have racist “connotations”.
Under the change, phrases together with “field work” and “going into the field” will now not be used, in response to a letter from the college of social work on the University of Southern California (USC).
Explaining the choice, it stated: “We have decided to remove the term ‘field’ from our curriculum and practice and replace it with ‘practicum’.
“This change helps anti-racist social work follow by changing language that may be thought of anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favour of inclusive language.
“Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ maybe have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.”
The letter was addressed to workers and college students from the “Practicum Education Department”, which till lately was referred to as the Field Education Department.
It continued: “Our purpose is not only to vary language however to honour and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies.
“We know changing terminology can be challenging, and a complete transition will take some time.”
In a press release to Fox News, USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work stated it was “joining other universities in making this change”.
“I understand that this decision was made by the Office of Practicum Education out of a desire to more accurately describe its work,” the college’s interim dean Vassilios Papadopoulos stated.
“Because the Office is not an academic department, its name change was not subject to a formal review process.
“The college doesn’t keep a listing of ‘banned’ or discouraged phrases.
“As an institution of higher education, we will continue to use words – including the word ‘field’ – that accurately encompass and describe our work and research, while also continuing our efforts to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.”
The transfer at USC comes after Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services stated it might discontinue the usage of “field” and “field worker”, as an alternative utilizing phrases resembling “local office” and “community staff”.
“Staff and stakeholders have raised concerns about the use of the term ‘field worker’ and its implications for descendants of Black and Brown individuals,” it stated in a memo.
“While the widespread use of this term is not intended to be harmful, we cannot ignore the impact its use has on our employees,” the memo reads. “Establishing shared language is essential to our collective progress.”