Maria Barnett

Marina Barnett, MSW, DSW

Associate Professor
tel: 610-499-1136
tel: 610-499-4564

Research Interests:  Asset mapping, organization and community development, African-American families, policy, community organization, parenting, multiculturalism

Courses Taught:  Policy, community organization, parenting, multiculturalism

I joined the faculty at Widener University in 2004. I teach policy and community organization at the BSW, MSW, and PhD. levels. Preparing students as generalist social workers involves helping students understand the multiplicity of roles that we as social workers must play in order to access necessary resources and seek change with and for our clients. My courses are designed to increase students' awareness of the intersections between direct micro-practice (the individuals in the communities) and macro-practice (the communities in which those clients live and the policies which determine the type and extent of services that are available to address the client's issues).

My courses are highly interactive and focus on 4 key areas of skill acquisition: advocacy and commitment to social justice, assessment, working with diverse populations, and use of technology. I focus on these skills because, I recognize that there will be many challenges that our students will face in the future. They will emerge out of college in the midst of a recession at a time when conservative pundits and ideologues are once again questioning the social work profession and undervaluing its contributions to society. It will be necessary for them to be active leaders in their communities and advocates for their clients. My vision for my students is that they see themselves as leaders capable of engaging any population. Through modeling, I seek to inspire them to be active contributors to the communities in which they live and work.

My courses demonstrate the social work values of partnering with clients, non-judgementalism, and valuing the uniqueness and capabilities of individuals. An assessment of strengths is an integral aspect of both my teaching and my practice. I believe that every person has inherent strengths and gifts that will allow them to contribute to society and address their own issues. For this reason, community partners are welcomed into the classroom to help design interventions, develop research protocols, and provide valuable insights regarding community dynamics.

Ultimately, by engaging students in advocacy campaigns and community development activities, I seek to inspire my students to take control of their own education, to become active participants in their own lives and to be dedicated and committed to the eradication of social injustice.

My motto is "you can't be an antisocial social worker". I want to educate social workers who aren't afraid of the people they serve and aren't afraid to stand up for what is best for their clients. My goal is to turn out social workers who love what they do and have a genuine respect for the people that they serve.


1995-1997 The University of Pennsylvania, Center for the Study of Youth Policy, Philadelphia, PA:
Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Teaching and Research
(Concentration: Evaluation Research and Children and Youth Policy)

1995 The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, Philadelphia PA:
Doctor of Social Work (Concentration: Practice Theory)
Dissertation: "We are Family: Social Supports and Family Interaction Among Black College Students"

1990 The University of Michigan:  Master of Social Work
(Concentration: Interpersonal Practice with Families and Groups/Community Organization; Certification in School Social Work)

1988 Clarion University of Pennsylvania:Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, Cum Laude

Research Grants

Barnett, M. (2012) Crozer Keysone Medical System Healthy Chester Coalition:

Healthy Chester Coalition Health Resources Guide and Website. Status: Funded $10,000

Chad Freed and Marina Barnett (2012) Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Delaware County Centerline Project:  Chester Centerline Project. Status: Funded $10,000

Barnett, M. (2010) Mapping Food Resources in the City of Chester. Project Pericles Faculty Leadership Award. Status: Funded $4000.00

Barnett, M. & Freed, C. (2008) Asset Mapping and the Chester Community Project Pericles. Status: Funded $4000.00

Barnett, M. & Kauffman, S. (2007-2011) "It Starts with Me" Abstinence Education Program Evaluation. Community Based Abstinence Education 90AE0196. Status: Funded $410,000



Freed, C & Barnett, M. (2009) Geographic Information System in Service Learning. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 13(3), p. 31-38.

Barnett, M., Silver, P., and Grundy, T. (2009) Implementing Service-Learning Pedagogy: A Case Example, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, v.13(4), p. 117-134.

Johnson, J., Hayden, T, Thomas, T., Groce-Martin, J., Henry, T., Barnett, M., & Kumanyika, S. (2009) Building Community Participatory Research Coalitions from the Ground Up: The Philadelphia Area Research Community Coalition (PARCC). Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, v. 3(1), p. 61-72.

Book Chapters

Barnett, M. (In Review) Using ABCD to Conduct Meaningful Community  Assessments:

Chester, PA. In Hamerlinck, J. and Worrall, L. Asset-Based Approaches to Campus-Community Partnerships

Barnett, M. (2009) General Practice with Communities. In Poulin, J., Strengths Based Generalist Practice: A Collaborative Approach 3rd Ed. p. 322-372. Brooks Cole Publishers, Belmont: CA.

Recent Conference Presentations

Liss, J., Barnett, M., Berger, B., Kane, E., Olsen, E. (2013) Linking classrooms, campuses, communities, and colleagues via social and civic high engagement learning. American Academy of Colleges and Universities, Atlanta, GA.

Barnett, M. (2012)Service learning as a tool for teaching English as a second language. Presentation to visiting Chongqing Technical and Business University Faculty, Chester, PA.

Barnett, M. (2012) Hunger in Delaware County, PA: Needs, resources, and directions.Annual Hunger Conference, Chester, PA.

Barnett, M. (2011) Watering the food desert: Service learning and civic engagement in an urban environment. Council on Social Work Education APM. Atlanta, GA.

Barnett, M., Owens, C., and Woodland, J. (2011) Back to the basics: Using student teach-ins to discuss the Preamble of the Constitution. American Democracy Project Conference. Orlando, FL.

Barnett, M. and Bryant, M. (2011) Responding to the call: Community organization and social action in the age of apathy. National Association of Black Social Workers. New Orleans, LA.

Barnett, M. (2011) Community asset mapping. Chinese Technical and Business University Conference. Chongqing, China.

Barnett, M. (2011) Taking it to the street: Service learning, civic engagement, and community based participatory research. President's Lecture. Chester, PA.

Schechner, S., Barnett, M. & Simons, L. (2011 and 2012) Sharing best practices: Facilitating class discussions on sensitive issues related to diversity. Widener University Bridge Week, Chester, PA.

Barnett, M. (2010) Mapping assets of local communities. National Association of Black Social Workers. Philadelphia, PA.

Barnett, M. and Freed, C. (2010) Building coalitions in the university: An asset mapping project. Crossing the Disciplinary Divide: Innovative Pedagogy and Course Redesign Conference, Fairfield, CT.

Barnett, M. and Turner, J. (2009) Building sustainable communities part I: Developing meaningful university/community collaborations. Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. Philadelphia, PA.

Barnett, M. and Freed, C. (2009) Building sustainable communities part II: Using GIS mapping to create meaningful assessments. Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.   Philadelphia, PA.

Kauffman, S. and Barnett, M. (2009) Courses on community theory and practice: Model assignments to promote civic engagement. Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.   Philadelphia, PA.

Barnett, M., Ashford, J., and Bryant, M. (2009) Mapping community assets. National Association of Black Social Workers Annual Conference. Louisville, KY.

Barnett, M. & Freed, C. (2009) There's nothing useful in this town: Using GIS mapping strategies to uncover hidden resources.   Annual Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development Conference. Philadelphia, PA.

Kauffman, S. & Barnett, M. (2008) Explaining differences in social problem prioritization among the poor: Community practice implications. Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Barnett, M. & Ashford, J. (2008) Mapping assets of local communities. Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Hayden, T., Barnett, M., Thomas, N (2008) Community-based participatory research and asset mapping.University of Pennsylvania Public Health & GIS Summer Institute, Philadelphia, PA

Barnett, M. and Grundy, T. (2007) Survival tools for service providers navigating the Medicare Prescription Drug maze. Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging., Chicago, IL.

Barnett, M., Kauffman, S., & Yoon, S. (2007) Developing a community-based technology plan. Third Annual Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society, Cambridge, UK.


2010 Widener University Fitz Dixon Innovation in Teaching Award

2010 Project Pericles Periclean Faculty Leader Award


Professional Service

2009  Journal of Advanced Academics, Reviewer
2008  Pearson, Allyn & Bacon Publications, Reviewer for proposal for Popple, P. Compassion and Protection: History of Social Work and Social Welfare in the United States.
2008  Pearson, Allyn & Bacon Publications, Reviewer for Day, P. (2009) A New History of Social Welfare, 6th Ed.

Community Service

2012-White Rock Baptist Church Children's Garden: Grant writing, garden design, and garden administration.

2012-2013  Chester Youth Collaborative: Facilitator of Chester Older Youth Plan.

2012-2013  Boy Scouts of America: Cub Scout Den Leader

2011-2013  Men of Concern: Organizational Capacity Building, Professional Development.

2010-2013  Greener Partners: Consultation

2009-2013  Girl Scouts of America: Parent Volunteer

2008-2011  Chester Community Improvement Project: Organizational capacity building.

2008-2011  East Gateway Triangle Neighborhood Association: Trained community residents in data collection, data analysis, and community organizing.

2008-2011  Spruce Hill Christian School and Center City Academy: School Board Member. Technology Committee Member. Brokered donation of 50 computers from local businesses to create school computer rooms. Grant Writing: Growth Gospel Fund. Funded $20,000.

2008  Saint Monica's Catholic Church Youth Group: Developed and implemented workshops to train youth to design community service initiatives.

2007-2013  Chester Weed and Seed: Organizational capacity building workshops on strategic planning, research design and methodology, led community focus groups and wrote the Chester Weed and Seed Revitalization Plan, 2009.

2007-2013  Chester Youth Collaborative: Strategic planning, organizational capacity building, and board development.

2006-2008  Delaware County Community Foundation: Community asset mapping for 65+ population.

2005-2006  County of Delaware Services for the Aging: Designed and moderated one day conference on Medicare D.

2005-2008  Lighthouse Community Church: Strategic planning, grant writing, organizational capacity building.

2004-2009  Philadelphia Area Research Community Coalition (PARCC): Strategic planning and organizational capacity building

1999- Present  Kingsessing Recreation Center
Responsible for proposal writing to increase funding for the Kingsessing Recreation Center and participating in an ongoing roundtable discussion with members of the Southwest community to create more cohesive and collaborative recreational opportunities for the youth of the Southwest area. Facilitated workshops with football coaches to develop a "Coaches Code of Conduct" for the Road Runner Football Club for the Pop Warner Junior Football League

1997- Present  Neighborhood United Against Drugs
Responsible for ongoing technical support and proposal writing to develop anti-violence after-school programs for youth in the Southwest Philadelphia area.