Ginn recognized with Doctoral Fellows Award from SSWR

Hannah Ginn.

By Matthew Biddle

Published January 25, 2024

Keith Alford, Hannah Ginn, Annette Semanchin Jones.

Ginn with Dean Alford and Annette Semanchin Jones, associate professor and PhD program director, at her awards ceremony.

Hannah Ginn, a PhD candidate in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, received the prestigious Doctoral Fellows Award for 2024 from the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR).

Ginn was one of just two doctoral students from across the country who were recognized with the award at SSWR’s annual conference on Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C.

The award honors and supports doctoral students whose dissertation reflects innovative ideas and rigorous research methodologies related to social work research, policy or practice. As a SSWR doctoral fellow, Ginn received a $3,000 award to support the completion of her dissertation.

“I have been impressed by Hannah’s critical investigation of complex concepts,” says Annette Semanchin Jones, associate professor and PhD program director in the School of Social Work. “Hannah brings a creative and novel perspective through her research to promote social inclusion and sexual justice for people with intellectual disability. She is an outstanding scholar and so well-deserving of the SSWR Doctoral Fellows Award!”

Ginn’s project is titled, “Questioning Capacity: The Impact of ‘Capacity to Sexual Consent’ Policies and Practices on the Sexual Rights of Women Labeled with Intellectual Disability.” Starting from the perspective that sexual autonomy is a universal human right, Ginn examines “capacity to sexual consent” (CTSC) policies, which are designed to protect people from assault or abuse, but in practice can restrict an individual’s rights and opportunity to pursue or maintain intimate relationships.

In her three-part study, Ginn challenges the underlying justification for CTSC and investigates how these policies can particularly limit the sexual autonomy of women labeled with intellectual disability. From there, she explores how sexism and ableism play into CTSC-related assessments, and how disability professionals perceive and respond to CTSC policies and standards of practice.

Through all her work, Ginn proposes a new approach that expands supports available to women and aligns resources with their individual goals and vulnerabilities, while upholding their rights.

Ginn plans to defend her dissertation later this spring and graduate in May. Her research has also been funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Switzer Research Fellowship Program and by the UB Gender Institute’s PhD Dissertation Fellowship. 

Media Contact Information

Matthew Biddle
Director of Communications and Marketing
School of Social Work
Tel: 716-645-1226