Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Martha Kuwee Kumsa and Dr. Peter Dunn

Advisor Role



This research project sought to explore how students experienced the introduction of a scent-free initiative within the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University. An intersectional, critical disability approach is used to understand participants' experiences and to identify gaps in implementation, as well as recommendations for future policy development. Working from a transformative paradigm, this study used a mixed methods design, including an online survey and in-person focus groups. Findings indicate that social work students felt well-informed about the initiative, however they did not feel adequately knowledgeable about how to embody the initiative via scent-free practices. Participants expressed stigmatizing attitudes toward individuals with Environmental Sensitivities/Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (ES/MCS), highlighting a need for further education related to this disability. Overall, the implementation of the initiative went well, however there were a number of identified gaps including education, culturally responsive implementation, and clarity of the policy. The findings of this study suggest that policy needs to shift language from "scent-free" to "fragrance-free". Recommendations are provided for moving toward the full implementation of fragrance-free initiatives and policies at the Faculty of Social Work (FSW) and beyond. Implications for social work education, practice, and policy are addressed. Finally, this study has implications for the use of intersectional and critical disability theory within social work.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons