Richard Cooper

Richard Cooper, PhD


Research Interests

Culturally centered educational pedagogy, therapeutic methodological frameworks, healing, counseling agency based practice, and emancipation oriented paradigms for African Americans and other dis-empowered populations

Courses Taught

Social Work Practice, Groups, African American Culture, Field Work Internship 

I happily choose to seek employment at Widener University after having been a "full time" professor at another regional university in metropolitan Philadelphia. Widener's mission, the Center for Social Work Education faculty and the clinical social work concentration were of particular interest to me. I was honored to join the School of Human Services Professions as a member of the faculty in 1998.
I hail from a semi-rural background in Southeastern Pennsylvania having been "up North" for at least the last 5 generations of my family. I was shaped, influenced and informed particularly by the struggles and advances of my parents and grandparents and the liberation movements of Africans in America and throughout the Diaspora. Themes of socio-economic class, social justice, politics, spirituality, gender identity, cultural diversity, corporate-youth and hip hop cultures, education and other emerging realities continue to influence and inform my professional practice, teaching, scholarship and community service.
I was "called to" the larger mission of the social work profession during an era that directly buttressed the civil rights movement. My professional work history as both a social worker and an educator has located me in various urban centers like for example: Coatesville, PA, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, Chester, PA and Wilmington, DE. All of these historically significant northern corridor cities that were built with cheap labor, immigrants, migrations, indigenous populations, and industrialization; now find themselves in deep decline. These once thriving cities and regions all face urban blithe, shrinking resources, unemployment, divisive politics, economic flight, crime, under funded public schools and decades of other forms of systemic decay. It is often social workers and other human services professionals that become the main service providers in these areas; thus the role of social work education in this region is key.
My life's work and teaching reflect the fact that the social work profession and our collective worldview must continue to construct positive realities that can and should be expressed about these public spaces and the people that inhibit them. Trained social workers and caring others should be expected to partner with these communities and create positive life sustaining changes. I am a social work educator-practitioner-advocate because I have a vested interest in witnessing these persons-in-the-environment not just simply survive but thrive. Working with BSW, MSW and Ph.D. seeking professionals is still an unexpected joy and helping to shape, guide and influence their careers remains a blessing.


  • Temple University: Ph.D. Inter-Disciplinary Urban Education
  • Howard University: Master of Social Work
  • West Chester University: Bachelor of Science, Health, Physical Education K-12


Additional Clinical Training

  • Neuro-Lingustic Programming: NLP Institute of Philadelphia
  • Structural Family Therapy: Baltimore Family Life Center
  • Gestalt Therapy: GFT Institute of Washington, D.C.
  • Psychodrama: Psychodrama Institute of Washington, D.C.
  • African Centered Counseling: Progressive Life Center, Washington, D.C.


Work Experiences

  • Radio Producer/Host WURD 900 AM Philadelphia
  • School Social Work Co-Director Ben Franklin High School: Philadelphia
  • Training Coordinator in Mental Health Intensive Case Management: Temple University: Philadelphia
  • Senior Psychiatric Social Worker: Temple University Medical Center Philadelphia
  • Crisis/Emergency Unit Social Worker: Albert Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia
  • Family Therapist: Progressive Life Center Washington, D.C.
  • Social Worker Case Manager/Therapist: The National Children's Center: Washington, D.C.



  • Richard M. Cooper, Ph.D., John T. Groce, Ed.D., Norma Thomas, DSW. Journal of African American studies, Changing direction: Rites of passage programs for African American older men. 2003.
  • Richard M. Cooper, Ph.D. Black Caucus, Journal of the National Association of Black Social Workers. African centered social work supervision: Moving from African centered theory to Africana social work practice. Spring 1998.


Recent Presentations

  • Richard Cooper DBHIDS)Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services Philadelphia: Workshop Series Presenter: Kijana (Youth) finding their voices in Hip Hop Culture.
  • Alliance of Black Social Workers Philadelphia Chapter and the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice Penna. Chapter Regional Conference: Workshop presenter: Power in the message and violence poetic expression and therapeutic intervention as a powerful tool of change.
  • Philadelphia Drug Enforcement Agency & Philadelphia FBI Keynote Speaker African American History Luncheon, African Americans at the crossroads of freedom and equality: The emancipation proclamation and the march on Washington.
  • Panelist Presenter Django Unchained Question & Answer Session Philadelphia.
  • Alliance of Black Social Workers Philadelphia: Keynote Speaker The meaning of Kwanzaa celebration.
  • Philadelphia African American Museum Freedom riders 82 civil rights movement portraits.
  • Chester County Historical Society, West Chester Pa Bayard Rustin's local roots.
  • Television Appearances
    Fox 29 Philadelphia African American
  • Radio Show
    WURD 900 AM Philadelphia
    Fridays 4 to 7 PM Listen Live on
    Producer/ Host The Karamu Feast
    African American talk radio


Honors, Awards Citations:

  • 2013 The Drug Enforcement Administration & Federal Bureau of Investigation Keynote Speaker Black History Month Citation
  • 2009 The Diopian Institute Award for Intellectual Initiative and Academic Action : Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancemen