Dr. Deborah Sturtevant, associate professor of sociology and social work at Hope College, has been named the recipient of a national award for undergraduate teaching by the "National Committee for Educating Students to Influence State Policy and Legislation."

          Sturtevant was honored for her work with students
  preparing to earn a bachelor's degree in social work.  The
  committee also honored faculty members working with students
  at the master's and doctoral levels, and one student at each
  of the three levels.
          All full-time or adjunct faculty in accredited or
  in-candidacy social work programs in the United States, and
  all full-time or part-time social work students in such
  programs, were eligible to participate in the national
  competition.  The awards will be presented on Saturday,
  March 7, during the national annual meeting of the Council
  on Social Work Education in Orlando, Fla.
          Sturtevant was honored for a project she assigns
  students who are enrolled in her junior-level "Social
  Policy" class.  Each year, she identifies an issue of social
  policy currently being reviewed at the state level.  Every
  student is then directed to choose a dimension of the issue
  and write a paper analyzing it from a social work
  perspective, as well as a one-page position statement
  summarizing their paper.  The students then submit their
  work to state or agency officials in the hope of influencing
  the policy accordingly.
          The goal, Sturtevant said, is to make the students
  familiar and comfortable with the policy-making process as
  early in their social work careers as possible.  "I have the
  strong belief that the earlier social workers engage in the
  policy process, the more likely they are to continue to
  influence the process throughout their career," she said.
          Sturtevant has assigned the project since joining
  the Hope faculty in 1988.  Topics have ranged from social
  work licensure, to assisted suicide, to homelessness, to
  health care reform, to this year's focus on the
  implementation of welfare reform.
          This is the third year that she's made submitting
  the final paper to policy makers a part of the assignment.
  Although she notes that students sometimes find the idea of
  writing to state legislators or even the governor a bit
  daunting, the experience is invaluable.
          "It demystifies the policy process," Sturtevant
          "They need to know that part of their role as a
  social worker is to influence policy on behalf of their
  client or the agency that they serve," she said.  "Through
  this project, they see how government works and that they do
  have a voice in government."
          Sturtevant is a 1975 graduate of Hope College, and
  holds an M.S.W. from Western Michigan University and a
  doctorate from Michigan State University.