SIUE’s Forsman discusses path to social work on the show


On this week’s episode of Segue, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s weekly radio program exploring the lives and work of the people on campus and beyond, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Kevin Leonard, PhD, interviews Lane Forsman, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work.

This episode of Segue airs at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 24. Listeners can tune into WSIE 88.7 FM The Sound or

Forsman studied at Florida State University, where he earned a bachelor’s in 2013, a master’s in 2014, and a doctorate in 2020, all three in social work. Forsman’s research has focused on LGBTQ+ issues and sexual assault. The title of his doctoral dissertation is, “Queer College Sexual Violence: The Interaction of Gender Identity and Sexual Assault on Campus.” He joined SIUE in fall 2020.

“My journey to social work was a bit of a roundabout,” Forsman says. “My first time in college I was a theater major. I still love the artform, but I wasn’t ready to be a college student yet.”

He says he was at a crossroad for a while in terms of deciding on a next step and ended up joining the AmeriCorps for two and a half years.

“Most of the work I did during that time was disaster recovery and long-term disaster relief on the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina,” explains Forsman.

Nearing the end of his time in AmeriCorps he decided to pursue a college degree. He was unsure of the specific focus at the time, but knew he wanted to help people. Through research, he came upon social work, and the holistic approach social workers take in working with clients resonated with him.

Leonard notes the academic path Forsman took while pursuing his advanced degrees and probes for the reason behind his choice.

“While I was in practice being out in the field and doing work and looking at some of the issues in providing services and the systemic barriers people were running up against and the gaps in knowledge around how to help people, after a while I realized the best way for me to fix this problem was not from the ground up as an individual social worker, but by going back and getting my PhD and helping to create knowledge that will inform how we fix those gaps,” Forsman says.

He talks about individuals who encouraged and supported him as he pursued his career in social work academia.

“One of the most important groups for me was the group of us in our late 20s to early 40s who were the non-traditional kids in the room, and we were a support system to each other,” says Forsman.

He discusses how his personal experiences influenced his career first as a social worker and then as a professor of social work.

“When I first became a social worker, I was really interested in this idea of disaster recovery social work stemming from my work with Katrina,” Forsman states. “Then toward then end of my bachelor’s program I had a personal experience with sexual assault. In the help seeking process, I realized for people who look like me, not everybody really knows what’s going on or what to do or how to approach that situation.”

He continues talking about the gaps in services and treatment for specific individuals and how what is currently available doesn’t always fit. His research now largely focuses on answering the question, “Is what we’re doing helpful to multiple identities and, if not, how can we expand that world?”

Tune in at 9 a.m. Sunday, April 24 to WSIE 88.7 The Sound to hear the entire conversation.


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