Research, doctoral education, and social work: Q&A with Associate Professor Anne Williford

Associate Professor Anne Williford loves generating student interest in community practice, social justice, and social change.

Anne Williford is an associate professor and Ph.D. program director in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University. Learn more about why she came to CSU, and her interests in youth bullying, aggression, and peer victimization.

1. What brought you to the School of Social Work at Colorado State University?

As a former Colorado resident, I fell in love with the mountains and the Colorado way of life, so I am thrilled to be back. I am excited about the research, teaching, and service opportunities at CSU, and looking forward to collaborating with the Social Work Research Center, as well as the Prevention Research Center in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. My work centers on positive youth development, so I’m interested in existing projects that seek to support youth and their families across different systems, such as schools, child welfare, juvenile justice, and behavioral health.

This fall I also teach advanced community practice at the MSW level. Macro practice is a great passion of mine, and I love working with students to ignite their passions for pursuing social justice through community practice. I am also directing the doctoral program, which has had a tremendous start and I look forward to building upon its great foundation. I have had the pleasure of getting to know the faculty and current students. Their experiences and expertise are vital to the current successes of the program and are key to reshaping the program moving forward.

2. What are your research interests, and how did you get into that topic?

When I was a social work practitioner working in public schools in the Longmont area, I became interested in youth bullying, aggression, and peer victimization. I saw children and adolescents being exposed to these problems in practice, but rarely found the proposed solutions to be effective.

This compelled me to join the doctoral program at the University of Denver, where I had the great fortune to work on several intervention projects aimed at reducing involvement with these behaviors among students, and assisting school personnel in responding appropriately and effectively to students.

Before coming to CSU, I spent eight years on faculty at the University of Kansas and continued several school-based projects aimed at addressing youth aggression and peer victimization, and identifying strategies to promote student behavioral health. Most recently I partnered with several juvenile detention facilities to explore the progression of aggression and bullying into more serious forms of delinquency and violence.

3. What’s your teaching philosophy?

In the classroom, I seek to create a positive and collaborative atmosphere that encourages dialogue. I love learning from my students and enjoy the conversations when we all participate. I also love generating interest in community practice, social justice, and social change. It’s an exciting time in social work to think about our role in creating socially just and inclusive communities, and to work with students on how to become effective agents of social change.

4. What’s your favorite thing about campus so far?

My favorite thing so far is the people. Everyone I have encountered has been so welcoming. My new colleagues and students are fabulous and I’m glad to be a part of this community.

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.