Grand Challenges for Social Work

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Grand Challenges for Social Work logo.jpg
Motto Social progress powered by science
Formation 2012
Headquarters University of Maryland, School of Social Work
Parent organization
American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare
Website www.grandchallengesforsocialwork.org

The Grand Challenges for Social Work is an initiative spearheaded by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

The social work profession has identified 12 challenges as inspirational objectives for society in the United States. The challenges are modeled after a similar undertaking led by the National Academy of Engineering.[1][2] Dean Edwina Uehara, PhD, Professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean, University of Washington, School of Social Work, proposed the Grand Challenges approach to the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Challenges were identified in partnership with sister organizations, including: National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education,[3] Society for Social Work and Research, Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work, National Association of Deans and Directors in Social Work, and the St. Louis Group. The 12 Grand Challenges were announced in January 2016 at the Society for Social Work and Research annual conference in Washington, DC.,[4][5][6] as a public call to action for all professions to work together to create a more just, equitable, and vital society.[7]

In 2013, the Grand Challenges for Social Work Executive Committee engaged national social work organizations, interest groups, and academic institutions to conceptualize and outline the Grand Challenges initiative. The committee decided on an inclusive, bottom-up approach, soliciting ideas from academia, the practice community, and the public. More than 80 suggestions for Grand Challenge topics were submitted online and in-person. From the ideas, the committee issued a call for concept papers and approximately 40 papers were submitted. As part of this work, the group commissioned several background papers[8][9][10][11] and an Impact Model to define the issues, describe the accomplishments of social work to date, and explain the Grand Challenges concept.[12][13]

Founding executive committee[edit]

The founding executive committee was composed of scientists, educators, and policy experts from throughout the field of social work and social welfare. Founding members included: John Brekke, PhD (Co-Chair), School of Social Work, University of Southern California; Rowena Fong, EdD (Co-Chair), School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin; Richard Barth, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Maryland; Claudia Coulton, PhD, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University; Diana DiNitto, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin; Marilyn Flynn, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Southern California; J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington; James Lubben, PhD, School of Social Work, Boston College; Ron Mandersheid, PhD, National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities Directors; Yolanda C. Padilla, PhD, LMSW-AP, School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin; Michael Sherraden, PhD, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University of St. Louis; Edwina Uehara, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Washington; Karina Walters, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Washington; James Herbert Williams, PhD, Graduate School of Social Work, University of Denver; Sarah Christa Butts, MSW, first AASWSW Administrator, and Executive Director, University of Maryland, School of Social Work.

Executive committee[edit]

The current executive committee is co-chaired by Marilyn Flynn, PhD, Dean, 2U Endowed Chair in Educational Innovation and Social Work; Suzanne Dworak-Peck, School of Social Work, University of Southern California; Michael Sherraden, PhD, George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work; and Edwina Uehara, PhD, Professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean, University of Washington School of Social Work.

Grand Challenges[edit]

The 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work are:

  • Ensure healthy development for all youth:[14][15][16][17] Addressing behavioral health issues in youth is part of this Grand Challenge. Drew Reynolds, a PhD candidate at the Boston College School of Social Work, ties into it with his work on social network analysis and its potential to tackle social problems.[18]
  • Close the health gap:[19][20] In December 2016, the International Journal of Social Work published the paper “Social Work Grand Challenges and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals: Linking Social Work and Women’s Health.” The authors make the case for “a call to action for more scholarly work on women’s health in the context of current national and global conversations about this social justice issue.”[21]
  • Stop family violence.[22][23] This grand challenge includes a concerted effort to better integrate the scholarship and practice that links child maltreatment prevention and services with those addressing intimate partner violence. These sub-fields have developed with different methodological and conceptual approaches. The US CDC has recently been promoting the idea of "connecting the dots" which shows that there is quite a bit of continuity between child maltreatment, youth violence, and intimate partner violence, and gender based violence.[24] A recent chapter on this grand challenge by Barth and Macy begins to draw out some of these continuities.[25]
  • Advance long and productive lives[26]
  • Eradicate social isolation:[27][28] Social isolation is a growing issue, affecting people of all walks of life and ability. It can affect children and youth, people with disabilities, older people, and people without access to technology. Social workers are on the front lines, addressing these issues in a variety of settings and with a range of interventions, as noted in a piece in the June 2016 issue of NASW News.[29]
  • End homelessness[30][31]
  • Create social responses to a changing environment[32]
  • Harness technology for social good:[33][34][35] Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW, explores the ways that technology is used in social work—from educating students and communicating via social media to online counseling and electronic records.[36] Jonathan Singer, PhD, LCSW, of Loyola University School of Social Work, wrote a blog post on a paper he co-authored calling for practice innovation through technology in the field of social work.[37]
  • Promote smart decarceration:[38] Researchers have called for utilizing the Grand Challenges for Social Work framework, with its emphasis on using evidence-based policies to address social injustices, to reform the current approach to managing sexual offender registries.[39]
  • Reduce extreme economic inequality[40]
  • Build financial capability for all[41]
  • Achieve equal opportunity and justice[42][43][44][45]

Activities[edit]

Social work scholars are leading 12 implementation networks, and universities of all sizes are beginning to organize by regional consortia. There have been Grand Challenge-themed meetings and conferences,[46] colloquia,[47] as well as several special issue journals.[48] Curriculum development and recruitment of students is also a significant goal. In 2016, USC School of Social Work announced a DSW program themed around the Grand Challenges.[49] Additionally, each Grand Challenge has developed a set of policy recommendations.[50] The University of Maryland School of Social Work published an article detailing the history and progress of the Grand Challenges initiative in the Winter 2017 issue of Connections Magazine.[51]

In 2017, the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research published a special section on implementing the Grand Challenges.[52][53][54][55] There are also a series of books on the 12 challenge topics.[56][57][58]

University efforts[edit]

Several events focused on Grand Challenges are taking place around the country. Berkeley Social Welfare has held sessions on health and mental health, the effect of new technology on social service delivery and outcomes, women and poverty, and issues around aging services and policy.[59]

On November 11, 2016, the University of Iowa, with the support of the National Association of Social Workers, held a day-long conference on the Grand Challenges. The aim of the conference was to bolster the leadership capacity of social work professionals and social justice advocates by detailing the issues and current efforts to address them, as well as initiating conversations around promising new approaches.[60]

Innovations[edit]

Social work has been concerned with social policy innovation for some time. The profession has been a leader in freeing families from poor houses and children from orphanages, halting child labor, advocating for women’s rights and civil rights, creating Social Security and fair labor standards, fighting for fair and inclusive housing, and much more.[9] The social-justice values of social work, combined with research and evidence to inform policy, have made these contributions possible. The profession continues this social policy mission and leadership with the Grand Challenges initiative. In September 2016, the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis hosted a Grand Challenges Policy Conference in partnership with the AASWSW to specify steps toward positive policy action. Each of the 12 grand challenge networks have developed a set of policy recommendations.[61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72] These recommendations are now being used to generate and inform policy and civic engagement[73] at local, state, regional, and national levels.

The Grand Challenges for Social Work offer an interdisciplinary approach to major issues facing our society, on a national level and locally. In Detroit, Tam Perry, PhD, has called for researchers, community members, practitioners, and policymakers to collaborate on making real, sustained changes to benefit the city’s residents.[74]

Defining the profession[edit]

The Grand Challenges initiative is also helping to define social work as a profession. Many people outside the field of social work do not realize the breadth of issues that social workers affect. There have been several efforts to help the public better understand the various roles social workers play.[75][76]

The Grand Challenges initiative also provides an opportunity to further define the profession through curriculum changes in schools of social work. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has published a paper that “describes the relevance of the GCSWI to professional education and suggests the collective-impact model as a heuristic for professional preparation to collaborate in grand challenge contexts.”[77]

And the Grand Challenges initiative has already reached beyond the United States. Social workers in the United Kingdom are considering a similar effort as a way forward for the field of social work there.[78]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kalil, T. (2012, April 12). The Grand Challenges of the 21st century. Speech presented at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/grandchallenges-speech-04122012.pdf
  2. ^ Uehara, Edwina; et al. (2013). "Grand Challenges for Social Work". Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research (2013):. 4 (3): 165–170. – via University of Chicago Press Journals. 
  3. ^ Coffey, Darla (March 2016). "The Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative and Our Future". The New Social Worker Magazine. 
  4. ^ "American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare". Market Wired Press Release. January 14, 2016. 
  5. ^ https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/news/2016/03/social-work-grand-challenges.asp?back=yes
  6. ^ Fanning, Patricia (January 15, 2016). "SSW Plays Role in Grand Challenges for Social Work". University of Maryland Baltimore, Press Release. 
  7. ^ "Grand Challenges for Social Work Video". 
  8. ^ Sherraden, M., Barth, R. P., Brekke, J., Fraser, M., Mandersheid, R., & Padgett, D. (2014). Social is fundamental:Introduction and context for grand challenges for social work(Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 1). Baltimore, MD:American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  9. ^ a b Sherraden, M., Stuart, P., Barth, R. P., Kemp, S., Lubben, J., Hawkins, J.D., Coulton, C., McRoy, R., Walters, K., Healy, L., Angell, B., Mahoney, K., Brekke, J., Padilla, Y., DiNitto, D., Padgett, D., Schroepfer, T., & Catalano, R., (2014).Grand accomplishments in social work(Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 2). Baltimore, MD: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  10. ^ Uehara, E.S., Barth, R.P., Olson, S., Catalano, R.F., Hawkins, J.D., Kemp, S., Nurius, P.S., Padgett, D.K., & Sherraden, M. (2014). Identifying and tackling grand challenges for social work (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 3). Baltimore, MD: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  11. ^ Barth, Richard P.; Gilmore, Grover C.; Flynn, Marilyn S.; Fraser, Mark W.; Brekke, John S. (2014-03-18). "The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare". Research on Social Work Practice. 24 (4): 495–500. doi:10.1177/1049731514527801. 
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  13. ^ Yolanda C. Padilla & Rowena Fong (2016) Identifying Grand Challenges Facing Social Work in the Next Decade: Maximizing Social Policy Engagement, Journal of Policy Practice, 15:3, 133-144, DOI: 10.1080/15588742.2015.1013238.
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  20. ^ Walters, K. L., Spencer, M. S., Smukler, M., Allen, H. L., Andrews, C., Browne, T., … Uehara, E. (2016). Health equity: Eradicating health inequalities for future generations (Grand Challenges forSocial Work Initiative Working Paper No. 19). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
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  23. ^ Barth, R. P., Putnam-Hornstein, E., Shaw, T. V., & Dickinson, N. S. (2015). Safe children: Reducing severe and fatal maltreatment (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 17). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
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  32. ^ Kemp, S. P., & Palinkas, L. A. (with Wong, M., Wagner, K., Reyes Mason, L., Chi, I., … Rechkemmer, A.). (2015). Strengthening the social response to the human impacts of environmental change (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 5). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
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  40. ^ Lein, L., Romich, J. L., & Sherraden, M. (2015). Reversing extreme inequality (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 16). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  41. ^ Sherraden, M. S., Huang, J., Frey, J. J., Birkenmaier, J., Callahan, C., Clancy, M. M., & Sherraden, M. (2015). Financial capability and asset building for all (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 13). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  42. ^ Goldbach, J. T., Amaro, H., Vega W., & Walter M. D. (2015). The grand challenge of promoting equality by addressing social stigma (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 18). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  43. ^ Calvo, R., Ortiz, L., Padilla, Y. C., Waters, M. C., Lubben, J., Egmont, W., . . . Villa, P. (2015). Achieving equal opportunity and justice: the integration of Latino/a immigrants into American society (Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 20). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
  44. ^ Teasley, M. L., McRoy, R. G., Joyner, M., Armour, M., Gourdine, R. M., Crewe, S. E., … Fong, R. (2017). Increasing success for African American children and youth (Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative Working Paper No. 21). Cleveland, OH: American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
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