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Reducing "Extreme Economic Inequality": A Social Work Grand Challenge  

Laura Lein, Jennifer Romich, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and Dominique Crump

The Social Work Grand Challenge to reduce economic inequality is one of 13 Grand Challenges guiding future practice, research, and education. This article on the Grand Challenge to reduce extreme economic inequality documents the problem, probes the mechanisms by which inequality continues and deepens, and proposes approaches for addressing this problem so interwoven into our economy and society. This article describes economic inequality in the U.S. context as well as social work–oriented responses. It briefly compares the inequality level of the U.S. with that of other countries. It explores the distinctions between poverty and economic inequality and the particular ways in which economic inequality is maintained and grows in the U.S. It also explores the kinds of policy and program initiatives addressing this grand challenge, the barriers to and potential benefits of such ideas, and the roles for social workers and the social work profession in reducing extreme economic inequality in our society.

Article

Social Media  

Maria Rodriguez and Jama Shelton

Social media are defined as applications and websites that allows users to share content, usually of their own making. More than just a teenage pastime, social media users include individuals and organizations, across a broad range of social positionalities. Key social work organizations, such as the NASW and AWSB, have begun noting the proliferation of social media usage in education and practice and have begun developing guidelines to govern their use. The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW), in their Grand Challenges of Social Work initiative, has also highlighted social media as an important area of growth for research and education. Despite the field’s nascent enthusiasm, practical and ethical concerns persist.

Article

Grand Challenges for Social Work  

Marilyn Louise Flynn, Richard P. Barth, Edwina Uehara, and Michael Sherraden

The Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) derived from a commitment to strengthening society through science and has identified 13 grand challenges through an iterative process. The GCSW has, in turn, developed 13 grand challenge networks that bring together researchers and practitioners and focus their capacities around achieving innovative solutions to these challenges. These networks develop and disseminate interventions at all levels (including university-based interdisciplinary grand challenge entities), giving productive focus to the work of social work and our allies. The Grand Challenges for Social Work are helping to galvanize policy developments that draw on expertise from across the profession and exemplify social work’s scientific and pragmatic traditions and its capacity for broader societal impact.

Article

Smart Decarceration  

Carrie Pettus

After a period of mass incarceration that spanned the 1970s through the 2010s, the United States remains the leading incarcerator in the world. Incarceration rates in the United States outpace those of other countries by several hundred per 100,000. Incarceration rates began to decline slightly in 2009, when there was a loss of fiscal, political, and moral will for mass incarceration policy and practices. First, the onset of smart decarceration approaches, the historical context from which smart decarceration stems, and the societal momentum that led to the conceptualization of smart decarceration are described. Smart decarceration is a lead strategy in social work that has been adopted by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare as one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work for the decade 2015–2025. Finally, an overview of the current status of smart decarceration and details shifts and initiatives to pursue at the intersection of social work and smart decarceration is provided.