Emerge Faculty Fellow: Dr. Laura Dortch Edler

Dr. Laura Edler
Dr. Laura Dortch Edler

An Ever-Evolving Path To Freedom: The Underground Railroad Experience

"Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand." (Confucius, circa 450 BC)

To expand knowledge in social justice, diversity and human service delivery, a select group of BSW social work students enrolled at the University of West Florida will be afforded an opportunity to participate in a Study Away Experiential Learning project, The Underground Railroad Experience.

To inspire intellectual curiosity about the world as it is and a deeper understanding of global conditions of diverse populations, specifically African Americans in their continuous path to freedom, The Underground Railroad Experience will provide exhibits and the story of the historical struggle for freedom in the United States and the courageous people involved, such as Harriet Tubman, the “conductor.” The focus is on America’s battle to rid itself of the ugly scourge of slavery and treat all its citizens with respect and dignity; thus a social work value. Students will learn about the underground railroad starting with the reasons for slavery, the way the underground railroad was used, and the eventual freedoms that slaves were offered.

Reliving The Underground Railroad experience, students will have a better understanding of contemporary Unfreedoms — racism, illiteracy, genocide, hunger, tyranny, and slavery. They will analyze connections between the global economy and injustice, as well as the role of individual citizens and governmental organizations in ending *Unfreedoms throughout the world.

Transformative learning for students will occur in the knowledge gained, and a deepened structural understanding of the issues/problems/experiences of oppressed people. The Underground Railroad Experience will ideally also transform into academic, personal, and professional growth, as students engage in determining their career practice choices.

*Unfreedom is a term used at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center that describes racism, illiteracy, genocide, hunger, tyranny and modern day slavery.


High Impact Practices (HIPs) Utilized

  • Common Intellectual Experiences
  • Learning Communities
  • Collaborative Assignments and Projects
  • Diversity/Global Learning
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Capstone Courses and Projects

For more information, please contact Dr. Laura Dortch Edler at ledler1@uwf.edu, or 850–474–2375.


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