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Article

Maryann Syers

Dorothea C. Spellman (1907–1979) headed the group work specialization at the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver. Her primary contributions were in group work and as an advocate for a unified profession.

Article

Asia contains more than 60% of the world’s population and is the fastest growing economic region. However, it faces challenges, including poverty, HIV and AIDS, and human rights concerns. In the midst of rapid changes in the social–political context, social workers and welfare organizations are making a significant contribution in addressing these challenges and improving social well-being in the region by broadening indigenous social networks to incorporate private, public, and community interventions.

Article

Karen Smith Rotabi

Sattareh Farman Farmaian (1921–2012) founded the Tehran School of Social Work in Iran.

Article

Ludwig L. Geismar

Wayne Vasey (1910–1992) was a social work educator who contributed to the fields of social policy, social welfare, and gerontology. He was founding executive of the social work schools at the University of Iowa and Rutgers University.

Article

Lisa Reyes Mason, Susan P. Kemp, Lawrence A. Palinkas, and Amy Krings

Communities worldwide are facing environmental crises such as air pollution, water shortages, climate change, and other forms of environmental change and degradation. While technical solutions for environmental change are essential, so too are solutions that consider social acceptability, value cultural relevance, and prioritize equity and social justice. Social work has a critical and urgent role in creating and implementing macrolevel social responses to environmental change. The key concepts of environmental change, environmental and ecological justice, social vulnerability, and social responses are discussed. A description of the roles and skills unique to macro social workers for this effort is given, followed by examples of macrolevel strategies and interventions. Opportunities and directions for future social work responses to a changing environment are identified.

Article

Frederick A. DiBlasio and John R. Belcher

Mitchell “Mitch” Snyder (1943–1990) was an activist who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience. He was a member of the Creative Community for Non-Violence, which helps cities to provide emergency facilities for poor and homeless people.

Article

A growing subset of place-based foundations in the United States have adopted an embedded philanthropic approach, in which funders “dig in” and “dig deeper” into the life of communities. Embedded philanthropy and embedded funders may change the landscape of community-building efforts in significant ways. Funding approaches and innovative efforts include the use of a “bottom up” approach to social change, a focus on helping communities to build capacity, and the building of community assets through grants that are more strategically focused. As these approaches continue to evolve and more evaluations take place, greater understanding will develop regarding the way forward for foundations in the United States to enhance effectiveness.

Article

Laura Burney Nissen

Macro social work has a long tradition of emphasizing planning. This array of practices typically looks at important intersections of community needs, resources, policies, and well-being—all of which combine to reflect, guide, and support the aspirations of groups, organizations, and communities. Futures thinking and foresight practice are an important emerging, but underutilized, set of ideas and tools available to macro-level social work practitioners and scholars to better navigate rapidly changing practice ecosystems. They have the ability to update and multiply traditional planning approaches. Futures thinking and foresight practice can have applications in numerous areas of practice, including (a) equity practice, (b) community practice, (c) organizational practice, and (d) government/policy practice. Social work ethics is likely to continue adapting to the changing world.

Article

Karen Smith Rotabi

Howard W. Odum (1884–1954) was the founding dean of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Public Welfare.

Article

Ann Rosegrant Alvarez

Despite many debates about the meaning and implications of multiculturalism, it remains an important concept within social work and other professional and academic disciplines. The basic idea of multiculturalism in social work education is that social work students need to learn to work effectively with people from many different cultures, and that this will have a positive impact on their social work practice and on outcomes for those with whom they work. It has been linked to issues of power, oppression, and social change. Future directions include focus on intersectionality and continued development of the implementation and implications of multiculturalism within social work education.

Article

Paul A. Abels

Chauncey A. Alexander (1916–2005) was Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers from 1967 to 1982 and founder and president of the First Amendment Foundation. He was instrumental in developing an International Code of Ethics for social workers.

Article

Suzanne Pritzker and Shannon R. Lane

Political social work navigates power in policymaking and politics to elicit social change. It is grounded in core social work values and ethics, including the professional responsibility to challenge systemic discrimination and institutional inequalities through political action. Political social workers address systemic barriers to social, political, economic, and racial justice, and engage in political action to promote individual and communal well-being through policy processes and outcomes. This article discusses the five domains of political social work: engaging individuals and communities in political processes; influencing policy agendas and decision-making; holding professional and political staff positions; engaging with electoral campaigns; and seeking and holding elected office. It also examines social workers’ political activity in the United States and globally, the role of social work education, and challenges for political social work, including the profession’s legacy of supporting injustices and tensions around the role of political social work, and identifies opportunities to address these barriers.

Article

Hal A. Lawson and Catherine S. Kramer

Social workers are prepared to benefit from and provide cross-boundary leadership for several kinds of collaborative, macro practice, all of which are structured to achieve a collective impact. Examples include teamwork, interorganizational partnerships, and community-wide coalitions. All are needed to respond to complicated practice problems, particularly ones characterized by co-occurring and interlocking needs. A family of “c-words” (e.g., consultation, coordination) is employed in many macro-level initiatives. Collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires explicit recognition of, and new provisions for, interdependent relationships among participants. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice increasingly is a requirement in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, and workforce development. Beyond interprofessional collaboration, new working relationships with service users connect collaborative practice with empowerment theory and are a distinctive feature of social work practice.

Article

Uschi Bay

Ecological social work requires a shift in thinking for social workers because it does not place humans at the center of its concerns. Rather, ecological social work puts the interrelationship between humans and nature at its center. This radically de-centered view of humanity aims to bring consideration of the planet and all of its environmental systems into decision-making to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for the long term. Ecological principles can guide social work practice, research, and education in ways that promote a transition to sustainable practices in every sphere of life. Widespread ecological consciousness is advocated as an important focus for change by some social work authors promoting this approach. A global consciousness is understood to enable humanity’s capacity to deal with the growing concerns about the survival of planet Earth as a suitable habitat for humans, animals, and plants. Humanity’s activities are understood to contribute to the ongoing degradation of fresh water, fertile soils, and pollution of the atmosphere. Drastic changes in the way humans behave and relate to the Earth are considered necessary at the global, national, and local levels. Social workers are thus called on to engage with others in taking on significant roles in many areas of practice to facilitate these crucial societal transformations.

Article

The compounding and escalating effects of environmental degradation, which include climate change, threaten the human-earth system with severe implications for the future of macro social work. Systems of power and oppression, including racial, economic, and gendered inequities, are exacerbated by environmental changes with significant impacts on human rights, public health, and various measures of well-being. While climate change is often not the root cause of inequality, it compounds existing inequities, making it substantially more difficult for marginalized populations to rebound from escalations of the myriad acute and chronic consequences due to climate change and environmental collapse. Experiences of environmental change consistently highlight the expanding resource and resiliency gaps among vulnerable populations, leading to disproportionate repercussions felt initially and, to an arduous degree, by marginalized groups. Simultaneously, these circumstances create opportunities for social workers to intervene and advance the causes of social justice. Macro-level interventions and climate solutions can emerge from social work development and support of policies and interventions that overcome short-term thinking to produce beneficial outcomes for populations and the environment by building capacity in the human-earth system and economic policy systems. Social work is ideally situated to confront climate change by balancing immediate needs with long-term ecological sustainability and relying on its historical understanding of systems to improve policy development and practical climate change mitigation approaches.

Article

Philip Mendes

Connie Benn (1926–2011) was a prominent Australian social work practitioner, researcher, and social activist. As a leader of the Australian Association of Social Workers in the 1960s, she encouraged social workers to move beyond a narrow focus on casework to participate in broader movements for social reform. In the early 1970s, she led the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Family Centre Project, which pioneered the application of structural social work methods to assisting a group of disadvantaged families.

Article

Joseph M. Wronka

At the heart of social work, human rights is a set of interdependent and indivisible guiding principles with implications for meta-macro (global), macro (whole population), mezzo (at risk), micro (clinical), meta-micro (everyday life), and research interventions to eradicate social malaise and promote well-being. Human rights can be best understood vis-à-vis the UN Human Rights Triptych. This consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, increasingly referred to as customary international law; the guiding principles, declarations, and conventions following it, such as the Guiding Principles to Eradicate Extreme Poverty, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and implementation mechanisms, such as the filing of country reports on compliance to conventions, the Universal Periodic Review, thematic and country reports by special rapporteurs, and world conferences. This powerful idea, which emerged from the ashes of World War II, emphasizes five crucial notions: human dignity; nondiscrimination; civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and solidarity rights. The hope is that every person, everywhere, will have their human rights realized. Only chosen values endure. The challenge is the creation of a human rights culture, which is a lived awareness of these principles in one’s mind, spirit, and body, integrated into our everyday lives. Doing so will require vision, courage, hope, humility, and everlasting love, as the Indigenous spiritual leader Crazy Horse reminded us.

Article

Thomas Packard

Human service organizations (HSOs) continue to face significant challenges to improve performance and the quality of working life for employees. Planned organizational change can help HSOs meet these challenges through the use of evidence-based tactics and methods ranging from team building and organizational redesign to implementation science. While organizational change is a dynamic rather than a liner process, a phase model can provide valuable structure. Organizational leaders or other potential change agents typically begin by identifying a change need or opportunity and creating a change goal that describes a desired future state. Initial assessments of the problem should include assessment of the organization’s and its leaders’ readiness and capacity for change. Implementation tactics include creating a sense of urgency and communicating the change vision and plan for implementation. Developing and maintaining support for the process are ongoing. An action system for implementing the change initiative should include representatives from throughout the organization. Provisions should be made for team building and conflict resolution. Widespread staff participation in activities including problem solving groups enhances staff commitment and improves the quality of the change results through the expertise that employees bring to the process. Action planning and monitoring systems can track progress and identify emerging concerns to address. Progress on the change process should be regularly and fully communicated to all employees. Agreed upon changes should be institutionalized through new policies and procedures, staff training, and organizational culture changes. All changes made should be evaluated to assess success and identify future change opportunities.

Article

F. Ellen Netting, M. Lori Thomas, and Jan Ivery

Macro social work practice includes those activities performed in organizational, community, and policy arenas. Macro practice has a diverse history that reveals conflicting ideologies and draws from interdisciplinary perspectives within the United States and around the world. Much has been written about how to balance macro and micro roles and how social work education can inform this balance. Organization and community theories, as well as theories of power, politics, and change inform macro practice. Macro practice models and methods include organization and community practice; community organizing, development, and planning; and policy practice, all of which underscore the social work profession’s emphasis on using a person-in-environment perspective. Underlying issues and future opportunities for macro practitioners include, but are not limited to, addressing equity, inclusion, and human rights; leading sustainability and environmental justice efforts; recognizing the importance of data, evidence, and accountability; and keeping up-to-date on technology and innovation.

Article

Lisa A. Ferretti and Philip McCallion

Growth in the aging population and increasing concerns in terms of health issues and financial and caregiving challenges among older adults are well established. Historically, the Older Americans Act has provided the delivery structure and services for older adults in need. Agencies within these structures have also engaged with housing and health care providers and funders. The structures and relationships are not adequate to support the desires of older adults for self-determination and aging in place and remain too treatment oriented rather than preventative and supportive in focus. Macro social work must engage in building aging structures, services, communities, and resources more fit for changing purposes.