The Role of Faith in Healing and Health

Chasing the American Dream

Congregations and Health: Research Directions


Miriam Johnson, PhD, MSW

Making Change Happen:

Although Dr. Miriam Johnson is spending less time in the classroom these days, it doesn’t mean she’s any less engaged with students. As the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Johnson is responsible for curriculum development and the logistics of making sure classes run smoothly. She also mentors doctoral students and helps students through the day-to-day experiences they face. According to her, part of her job is encouraging students who may feel marginalized and helping them gain better footing in the classroom. She says that “the stellar students will be fine”; finding the ones who are struggling is what’s important to her. She said, “Watching them blossom is really rewarding.”

Dr. Johnson’s commitment to helping others doesn’t end in the classroom. As a practitioner, her work has ranged from facilitating adoptions to assisting refugees from Southeast Asia. She jokes that a bonus of the latter was celebrating New Year’s about five times per year. She shared that she loved that work because of the people, whom she both empathized with and admired: “They basically arrived with the clothes on their backs. These families were so resilient.”

Research Background:

Dr. Johnson is Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, and she is an Associate Professor. She has a BA in social work and an MS in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MSW and PhD from the University of Alabama. She has more than 20 years of experience in direct practice and supervision/program management with children/youth in out-of-home placements and their families (foster care, group care, residential treatment, international adoptions) and refugee resettlement.

Research Projects (recent)

  • Content analysis of more than 1500  abstracts for social work doctoral dissertations from 2008-200 and 2008-2010, examining selected topics and targeted populations, with a special focus on research on social work programs and practice.

Selected Presentations

  • *Johnson, M. M., McMillan, L. & Powers, M. (2012, January). Types and topics of social work dissertations, 1998-2000 and 2008-2010. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Conference, Washington, DC,
  • *Yeo, Y.S. & Johnson, M. M. (2012, January) Evaluating 'Healthy Immigrant Effect' of Elderly Immigrants before and after PRWORA: Findings from the Aggregated NHIS Data in the United States. Paper presented at the Society for Social Work and Research Conference, Washington, DC.
  • *Addonizio, F., & Johnson, M. (2011, November). Stress, coping, social support, and psychological distress among MSW students. Paper presented at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Atlanta, GA,
  • *Johnson, M. M. & McDevitt, F (2008, November).   Social construction meets objective reality. Arts Festival. Council on Social Work Education, Annual Program Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Rhodes, R. & Johnson, M. M. (2007, April). Connecting incarcerated women and their children: A promising prevention approach. 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. Portland, OR.
  • *Parlier, S. & Johnson, M. M. (2007, March). Dollars and sense: What social workers know and believe.  NASW SC Chapter 2007 Spring Symposium. Myrtle Beach, SC.

* indicates student co-presenter

Selected Publications

  • Johnson, M. M., & Rhodes, R. (2010). Human Behavior and the Larger Social Environment: A New Synthesis.  (2nd ed.) Boston: Pearson.
  • Johnson, M. M., & Rhodes, R. (2007) Institutionalization: A theory of human behavior and the social environment.Advances in Social Work, 8, 219-236.
  • *Johnson, M. M., Addonizio, F., Butler, P., Herzog, J., Sohn, Y., & Tewary,S. (2006). Religiosity and social work values: An exploratory study. Arete. (special issue on spirituality)
  • Wolfer, T. A. & Johnson, M. M. (2003). Re-evaluating student evaluation of teaching: The teaching evaluation form. Journal of Social Work Education, 39, 111-121.
  • *Lim, H. S. & Johnson, M. M. (2001).  Korean social work students’ attitudes towards homosexuals. Journal of Social Work Education, 37, 545-554
  • Johnson, M. M., & Rhodes, R. (2001).  “Give me strengths! Evaluating the effectiveness of a graduate level HBSE course.  Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment,  4, 1-18.
  • Johnson, M. M. (2001).  Learning about privilege: The reactions of students in an introductory graduate level social work course.  New Global Development, 17, 11-16.

*co-authored with a student

Consulting and Review Panels

  • 2004 CSWE APM Abstract Review Committee
  • 2003 CSWE APM Abstract Review Committee   
  • 2002 CSWE APM Abstract Review Committee   
  • 2001 CSWE APM Abstract Review Committee
  • Editorial board member, Child & Youth Care Forum (2000-present)


Johnson M

Contact Information

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Phone: 803.777.2363

Major Classes Taught

  • SOWK 712 HBSE I
  • SOWK 716 HBSE II
  • SOWK 718 Capstone course
  • SOWK 791 Research methods
  • SOWK 892 Design and analysis of social work research

Community Partners


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