Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Kenneth Larimore


Scholars have documented a lack of effective education and training for integrating faith and social work practice. Also, researchers have identified challenges regarding conflicting philosophical paradigms in social work and cultural changes among emerging adults affecting evangelical Christian universities teaching faith integration. However, little information is available regarding the experiences of students and conflicts between social work values and their religious beliefs. This study was an investigation of the experiences of social work students when considering value conflicts between their religious beliefs and social work practice. The research questions examined the moral reasoning of students at an evangelical university considering self-identified value conflicts. An exploratory generic qualitative research methodology was employed, with a convenience sample of 6 senior-level Bachelor of Social Work students aged 18 to 25 years. Individual semistructured interviews queried 2 main topic areas, including identifying areas of value conflict, and underlying ethical motivations and thoughts. Data were analyzed using descriptive and conceptual coding in the context of moral foundations theory and validated through member checking, peer debriefing, and the use of intentional protocols. Emergent themes included student uncertainty in defining and implementing key social work values and moral reasoning dominated by intuitions of care, concern, and client autonomy and choice. Findings from this research can positively contribute to the field of social work and social change by affecting the education and practice competencies of future social workers and their ability to work ethically and manage value conflicts in individual, organizational, and community settings.