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Initiative to Galvanize Social Work, Related Fields and Communities Across the Country, Accelerating "Social Progress Powered by Science"
WASHINGTON, DC --(Marketwired - January 14, 2016) - From mass incarceration, climate change, and an aging population to immigration, mental illness and rising income inequality, the most pressing issues facing America have something fundamental in common: the social factor. As a call to action on these and other urgent problems, the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW) is launching the Grand Challenges for Social Work. The Grand Challenges will promote innovation, collaboration, and expansion of proven, evidence-based programs to create meaningful, measurable progress on solving these and other urgent social problems within a decade.
The official launch of the Grand Challenges for Social Work will take place today at the opening plenary session of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) 20th Anniversary Annual Conference in Washington, DC.
"Social factors contribute more mightily to the individual condition of people than any other single factor: more than disease, the environment, genetics, or technology," said Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, President of AASWSW and the Dean, University of Maryland School of Social Work. "Understanding and improving the way that social factors interact with other forces is critical to our future. This is why we say, 'social is fundamental,' and why the Grand Challenges for Social Work are so needed to drive social progress that is powered by science."
The SSWR conference includes more than 50 presentations from leading researchers and experts from around the country related to the 12 Grand Challenges. (See the complete conference agenda.)
The Grand Challenges for Social Work
Together the 12 Grand Challenges define a bold, science-based social agenda that promotes individual and family well-being, a stronger social fabric, and a just society that fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of belonging, and offers pathways for social and economic progress.
Here is a description of the underlying problems, strategies, and goals of each of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work.
How the Grand Challenges were chosen
Beginning in 2012, the 14-member Grand Challenges Executive Committee guided the process of soliciting ideas for Grand Challenges, refining them, and commissioning background papers on the overall concept and the individual Challenges.
In selecting the Challenges, the Executive Committee applied five top criteria. First, every Challenge had to be big, important, and compelling. Second, there had to be scientific evidence to indicate that the Challenge could be solved. Third, meaningful and measurable progress to address the Challenge had to be possible within a decade. Fourth, the Challenge had to be likely to generate interdisciplinary or cross-sector collaboration. Finally, the solution to the Challenge had to require significant innovation.
Building bridges within and beyond social work
The Grand Challenges for Social Work create an opportunity for social work researchers and practitioners to collaborate widely with each other and with many other fields and disciplines, including health care, law enforcement, education, civil rights, technology, and climate science.
"For young people who are interested in making a big impact in the world, and who care deeply about social justice, these Grand Challenges are going to be very appealing," said Darla Spence Coffey, PhD, President and CEO of the Council on Social Work Education and a member of the Grand Challenges National Advisory Board.
The Grand Challenges will also strive to stimulate new social science research, building the scientific evidence base that underpins the most effective social interventions.
"Social workers helped foster major positive social changes during the 20th century but this century presents a new set of complex issues," said Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Social Workers and a member of the Grand Challenges National Advisory Board. "Building new knowledge and connecting it to practice and policy will be critical in helping social workers drive real, lasting, and transformative social change in decades ahead."
History of Grand Challenges
"Grand Challenges" identify highly ambitious yet achievable goals that mobilize a profession, capture the public's imagination, and require innovation. Other Grand Challenges initiatives have included the Grand Challenges for Engineering, sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering, and the Grand Challenges in Global Health, co-sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and Grand Challenges Canada.
About the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare
The American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare was announced in 2009. The Academy was established in a united effort by all the leading social work organizations as an honorific society of distinguished scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in the field of social work and social welfare through high-impact work that advances social good. The Academy has been established to encourage and recognize outstanding research, scholarship, and practice that contribute to a sustainable, equitable, and just future; inform social policy by serving as a frontline source of information for the social work profession as well as Congress and other government agencies and non-government entities charged with advancing the public good; promote the examination of social policy and the application of research to test alternative policies, programs, and practices for their impact on society; and celebrate excellence in social work and social welfare research, education, and practice. For more information, please visit http://aaswsw.org.