People with mental illness are blamed for misuse of guns and mass shootings; people of color are targeted in countless and violent ways; and those who are poor face overwhelming inequities and lack of access at all turns. Sadly and outrageously, oppression and injustice surround us.

Enter in a new academic year. In field departments everywhere, discussions are likely underway about learning plans and competencies. Among them is Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice (outlined in the 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards [EPAS]). Despite our best efforts to demystify the competencies, it is striking that we have historically received a number of evaluations at semester’s end that indicate this particular competency is “not applicable” in certain settings.

There is no doubt that there is a lack of fluency in the practice community when it comes to the “language” of competencies. As social work educators, we are immersed in “competency speak,” but need to support our valued partners in becoming more comfortable with the various ways in which the competencies “live” in their particular settings.

Of all the competencies that guide us, this is among those that also define us – we hope that it becomes a core value of a social worker’s professional (and, hopefully, personal) identity. Then, what does it mean, and how is it being practiced at all levels? It is our collective work to teach our colleagues to see the many ways in which human rights and social justice are woven into our work, even in the most clinical of settings. Advocating for interpreter services in a hospital, seeking housing for the homeless, being mindful of inequities in healthcare and thinking about our role in it – are all examples of “practices” of human rights and social justice. This notion is explored in this issue’s Conversation.

We are living in times of growing disparities with daily and tragic reminders of racism, classism, senseless violence (and other “marginalisms” too numerous to name). It behooves us to lift up this “calling” for our students and ourselves. To that end, I would like to issue an invitation as editor of Field Educator, for all readers to be part of a conversation among social workers everywhere on matters of social justice. In this exchange, let us highlight that which is being done already: the many ways in which you and your students are “practicing” social justice everyday. Then, let us look at what more we can do. How can we coalesce to have a greater voice on matters that haunt us? What might be the best vehicle for this discussion? Please begin your thinking with submissions to fieldeducator@simmons.edu, no matter how early in its development. We will assemble your thoughts and report back in our next issue Spring 2016. I look forward to your submissions and to continuing this needed dialogue about social work field education. Let’s find a way for this discussion to take on a life of its own.