Social work professor serves as Fulbright specialist in India

Alice Butterfield -Assam

Alice Butterfield (center) helped develop a new social work program at Assam Don Bosco University in India.

By Brian Tibbs

In August, UIC professor Alice K. Butterfield served as a Fulbright specialist for the new social work program being developed at Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU) in India.

Butterfield has expertise in the development of master’s programs from her similar experiences in Ethiopia, and she presented several lectures and workshops to ADBU students and faculty on topics surrounding Asset-Based Community Development.

Butterfield said that she saw a true spirit of service in Assam.

“If the faculty and students see an existing need in the immediate community, they find a way to use their knowledge and expertise to address that need,” she said. “They do whatever it takes to make something happen to help the community. I saw the spirit of Jane Addams alive.”

Some of the projects being undertaken by faculty there are the construction of community gardens, repairing and rehabilitating school buildings, or teaching English to community members.

“They’ve also been bringing preschool teachers from the surrounding area into the university for daylong workshops on identifying learning disabilities in young students,” Butterfield said.

Upon returning to campus, Butterfield shared her experience with fellow social work faculty, and she will pass on what she learned in India about grassroots community development. She continues to work with ADBU faculty, facilitating scholarly publications and assisting with community projects for impoverished children and homeless people with mental illness.

The Jane Addams College of Social Work will seek opportunities to develop further exchanges with ADBU to develop and share knowledge and best practices. Butterfield hopes that the partnership might develop a summer travel program for social work students.

“It would be an amazing experience for young social workers to experience something like I experienced in Assam,” Butterfield said. “It was overwhelming for me to see the passion for the poor that permeates ADBU and their faculty and students. It was unbelievable.”

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