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Social Work International Social Work
by
Lynne M. Healy

Introduction

International social work encompasses those aspects of the profession that address practice or policy issues that affect more than one country; increasingly the term is linked to social work within the context of globalization. The term has been used since at least 1928, and scholars have devoted considerable attention to defining international social work. International social work is generally understood to encompass global social problems and policy issues, comparative social policy, international professional organizations, social work practice focused on development of human rights, or migration, especially that in international agencies. It is potentially a vast subject area if one considers international social work to include comparative and global perspectives on each area of social work expertise and concern. This bibliography is necessarily limited to sources addressing broad categories of the dimensions of international social work. Included are significant works on the major concepts underpinning international social work, attention to key debates within the field, sources on international social work education and on internationalizing curriculum, and sources on comparative social policy. The bibliography does not include articles or books on specific global problems, such as child labor, human trafficking, or HIV/AIDS. The focus is on materials authored by social workers, but some interdisciplinary works are also included.

General Overviews

Beginning with Lyons 1999, a modest number of texts have been published on international social work. Cox and Pawar 2006; Healy 2008a and Healy 2008b; and Lyons 1999, based in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, respectively, give an introduction to the concept of international social work. Cox and Pawar 2006 and Lyons 1999 emphasize specific examples as a way of explicating the concept, while Healy 2008b covers a comprehensive range of core areas of social work. Ramanathan and Link 1999 is intended to be particularly useful for social work educators, but readers will find a broad and quite comprehensive coverage of international social work.

  • Cox, David, and Manohar Pawar. 2006. International social work: Issues, strategies, and programs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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    Introduces an integrated perspectives approach, defined as one that blends globalization, human rights, and ecological and social development theories. It then explores international social work with particular attention to poverty, conflict and postconflict reconstruction, and displacement and forced migration. Case examples enhance a practice emphasis.

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  • Healy, Lynne M. 2008a. International social work. In Encyclopedia of social work, 20th ed., Vol 2. Edited by Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 482–488. New York: Oxford Univ. Press and National Association of Social Workers.

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    A brief (twenty-five-hundred word) overview that focuses on the evolution of definitions of international social work and on current roles for social work in the international arena. The reference list gives suggestions for further reading. Useful as an introduction to the topic.

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  • Healy, Lynne M. 2008b. International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. 2d ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Provides a comprehensive introduction to international social work. Under the main themes of globalization and professional action, the author covers theories underpinning international social work, history and current realities of the global profession, global ethics, global policy, and international practice.

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  • Lyons, Karen. 1999. International social work: Themes and perspectives. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    This is the first well-known text on international social work. It defines the field and then addresses several topics as examples of international social work.

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  • Lyons, Karen, Kathleen Manion, and Mary Carlsen. 2006. International perspectives on social work: Global conditions and local practice. Houndmills, Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

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    The authors begin with a sound and concise treatment of the relevance of globalization to social work practice. They introduce the concept of loss as a universal social concern and apply this in later chapters to practice in situations of conflict, migration, child exploitation, and global pandemics.

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  • Ramanathan, Chathapuram S., and Rosemary J. Link. 1999. All our futures: Principles and resources for social work practice in a global era. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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    A comprehensive text with some particularly insightful chapters. The chapters on field education and the one on ethics are recommended in the sections on International Social Work Education: Curriculum and Field, and Values and Ethics, respectively.

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Journals

There is a growing number of English-language social work journals from diverse parts of the world. These feature articles by writers from the regions and are useful in communicating national and regional perspectives. Included are long-standing journals, such as International Social Work and Social Development Issues. These plus the International Journal of Social Welfare and the Journal of Comparative Social Welfare and the online journal Social Work and Society are global in their coverage of topics. A number of more recently developed regional journals from Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa are highly recommended as optimal for bringing scholarship from diverse parts of the world to students, faculty, and practitioners.

  • Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development.

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    An English-language journal published by the University of Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Regional Association. A useful resource in bringing current Asian scholarship to the English-speaking world.

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  • Caribbean Journal of Social Work.

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    This journal began in 2001 and is sponsored by the Association of Caribbean Social Work Educators in the English-Speaking Caribbean. The annual issues focus on articles about the Caribbean, articles about the Caribbean diaspora, and articles of general international interest, in that order of priority. Most are authored by writers in and from the Caribbean.

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  • European Journal of Social Work.

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    Although focused on social work in Europe, the journal also publishes international and interdisciplinary articles. It is an important source for staying in touch with the intellectual debates regarding social professions and social policy. Published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Available online.

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  • International Journal of Social Welfare.

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    As described on its website, the journal aims to encourage debate about the global implications of the most important current social welfare issues. Edited by Sven Hessle of Sweden, the journal was originally titled the Scandinavian Journal of Social Welfare. Now a Wiley-Blackwell journal.

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  • International Social Work.

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    The field’s leading general journal, now also online. Initiated in 1957 and sponsored by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), and the International Council of Social Welfare (ICSW). Features periodic special issues such as on disasters (50:3, May 2007) and social work in Africa (51:3, May 2008).

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  • Journal of Comparative Social Welfare.

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    Founded by Brij Mohan as New Global Development, the renamed journal is now published three times a year by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. It aims to be interdisciplinary as well as international and addresses social work, social policy, social development, and global social problems, with special emphasis on peace and social justice. Available online.

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  • Journal of Social Development in Africa.

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    Sponsored by the social work program at the University of Harare in Zimbabwe, this journal publishes articles on social work and social development in Africa. Of note is a special issue on the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis published in 2006. Available online.

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  • Social Development Issues.

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    Published in the United States, this journal features articles on a wide range of international topics related to social work. Contributing authors and the editorial board come from diverse countries, enhancing the utility of the journal for study related to international issues. Available online.

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  • Social Work and Society.

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    An international journal that encourages debate on critical issues in social work and social policy. Articles cover theory, practice, research, and history. It is an online-only journal and offers free access.

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History Of International Social Work

Truly global studies of the history of social work are lacking. Healy 2008 provides a useful overview. The recent publications Billups 2002, Hering and Waaldijk 2003, and Seibel 2008 shed light on the history of the global profession through collections of biographies of individual leaders. The power of biography to teach history is evident in Salomon 2004. The treatment of the origins of American social work education provided by Kendall 2000 is based on careful historical research and has revealed new information about the extent of cross-Atlantic dialogue among social work’s founders. Kendall 1978 is recommended for perspectives on global social work education and for a history of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) from 1928–1978. Lorenz 1994 is highly recommended for its cogent analysis of the way the past has influenced the current realities of European social work. Lorenz 2007 will be of particular interest to historians.

  • Billups, James O. 2002. Faithful angels: Portraits of international social work notables. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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    Using oral history methodology and in-depth interviews, Billups presents the careers and philosophies of fifteen leaders in international social work. Almost all were active in international professional organizations and some in the United Nations; most were significantly involved in shaping social work in their own countries. The profiled leaders span six continents.

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  • Healy, Lynne M. 2008. The history of the development of social work. In International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. By Lynne M. Healy, chap. 6, 135–163. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    This chapter gives an overview of the history of social work in diverse parts of the world. Founders in diverse countries—Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, and Iran—are highlighted as examples. Although cited in depth, useful as an introduction to the global history of social work.

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  • Hering, Sabine, and Berteke Waaldijk, eds. 2003. History of social work in Europe (1900–1960): Female pioneers and their influence on the development of international social organizations. Opladen, Germany: Leske and Budrich.

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    Biographies of significant social work leaders are presented by twenty-three authors from eleven countries. The chapters emphasize the impact of these women leaders on the development of the social work profession. An interesting volume showcasing current historical research.

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  • Kendall, Katherine A. 1978. Reflections on social work education, 1950–1978. New York: International Association of Schools of Social Work.

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    Issued to honor the retirement of Kendall as secretary general of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the volume is a collection of her articles and major addresses on world social work education. Useful for its historical content and for insights on professional education and the challenges facing educators around the world. No longer in print.

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  • Kendall, Katherine A. 2000. Social work education: Its origins in Europe. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

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    This thoroughly researched book explores the movements in Europe that gave rise to the profession of social work. Drawing heavily on primary sources, Kendall traces the beginnings of the settlement and charity organization movements and their transplantation to the United States. A later chapter examines the spread of social work to other continents.

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  • Lorenz, Walter. 1994. Social work in a changing Europe. London: Routledge.

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    Although somewhat dated as a discussion of the profession in Europe, the book is highly recommended for its historical perspective and cogent analysis of the challenges facing Europe and the social professions. Lorenz’s analysis of social work’s response to the rise of Nazism is essential reading.

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  • Lorenz, Walter. 2007. Practising history. International Social Work 50.5: 597–612.

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    An interesting essay on paradigms of history by one of Europe’s leading social work scholars. Highly recommended.

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  • Salomon, Alice. 2004. Character is destiny: The autobiography of Alice Salomon. Edited by Andrew Lees. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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    This rich autobiography of one of social work’s international pioneers, the founder of social work in Germany and first president of the International Association of Schools of Social Work, languished unpublished for years. Recently edited by a historian, it is a moving and readable volume. Useful for illuminating the history of the profession in the early 20th century and for inspiring students and others.

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  • Seibel, Friedrich W. 2008. Global leaders for social work education: The IASSW presidents 1928–2008. Brno, Czech Republic: Verlag Albert.

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    Biographical chapters about each of the first ten presidents and one honorary president of the International Association of Schools of Social Work are accompanied by an introductory chapter on the history of the association. The chapters shed light not only on the individuals but on the challenges facing social work from 1928 to 2008.

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Globalization

In the 21st century international social work must be situated in the context of globalization. The topic is explored by numerous authors. For a quick introduction Khinduka 2008 and Lyons 2006 are recommended. Critical perspectives on globalization are offered by Ferguson, et al. 2004 and Payne and Askeland 2008. Rowe 2000 and Tan and Rowlands 2004 contain diverse chapters by social workers. For a balanced view of globalization from a multidisciplinary perspective, World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization 2004 is highly recommended. Prigoff 2000 is suggested for a sound introduction to global economics.

  • Ferguson, Iain, Michael Lavalette, and Elizabeth Whitmore, eds. 2004. Globalisation, global justice, and social work. New York: Routledge.

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    This edited volume features case studies from diverse countries, including Argentina, India, Senegal, and France. The radical tradition in social work and the role of the profession in resisting neoliberalism are stressed.

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  • Khinduka, Shanti K. 2008. Globalization. In Encyclopedia of social work, 20th ed., Vol. 2. Edited by Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 275–279. New York: Oxford Univ. Press and National Association of Social Workers.

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    Readers may find this a useful starting place for an overview of globalization. Good as beginning assigned reading for students.

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  • Lyons, Karen. 2006. Globalization and social work: International and local implications. British Journal of Social Work 36.3: 365–380.

    DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcl007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Lyons ties the trends in globalization to social work practice both locally and more globally.

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  • Payne, Malcolm, and Gurid Ada Askeland. 2008. Globalization and international social work: Postmodern change and challenge. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Payne, from the United Kingdom, and Askeland, from Norway, collaborate in a thought-provoking examination of international social work. They describe their book as “stimulating” to academics yet accessible to practitioners.

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  • Prigoff, Arline. 2000. Economics for social workers: Social outcomes of economic globalization with strategies for community action. Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.

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    Authored by a social work professor, the book explains the global economic system and its impact on social well-being.

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  • Rowe, Bill. 2000. Social work and globalization. Special issue, Canadian Social Work 2.1.

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    Also published as a special issue of Canadian Social Work Review 17 (2000). Under the umbrella topic of globalization, this collection, published in conjunction with the World Conference in Montreal 2000, includes papers focusing on the world economy, development, peace building, and global partnerships. An interesting paper by Glenn Drover introduces the idea of social citizenship.

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  • Tan, Ngoh-Tiong, and Allison Rowlands, eds. 2004. Social work around the world III. Bern, Switzerland: International Federation of Social Workers.

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    A useful collection highlighting the impact of globalization on social conditions and social welfare. The editors’ own chapter reporting on a survey of social workers’ attitudes toward globalization is of particular interest. See especially the article by James Midgley, “The Complexities of Globalization: Challenges to Social Work.”

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  • World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. 2004. A fair globalization: Creating opportunities for all. Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organization.

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    A study providing a balanced critique of globalization. While addressing positive impacts, this report calls attention to the negative effects of globalization on people in poverty, women, and some parts of the world, such as Africa. It recommends a set of global protections for labor and a social safety net for those left behind.

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Development

Since large numbers of countries gained independence from colonialism in the 1960s and 1970s, considerable international attention has been paid to economic and social development of these low-income countries. Development remains a major focus on international action and an appropriate practice and policy emphasis for international social work. This section contains relatively few works by social workers. Notable exceptions are the text on social policy (Hall and Midgley 2004) and Stoesz, et al. 1999. These are recommended for their success in linking the profession to the broader field of development. Isbister 2006 is widely used as a text in international relations and is suggested to provide necessary background for further study in development. Sen 1999 is a frequently quoted book that deserves to be widely read. Uvin 2004 unites development and human rights, arguably the two most important concepts underlying international social work. The United Nations remains a leading producer of policy and data for development study. Anyone interested in international social work should gain familiarity with World Summit for Social Development 1995 and United Nations 2000. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Reports is recommended for its sources of development data.

  • Hall, Anthony, and James Midgley. 2004. Social policy for development. London: Sage.

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    Covers a broad range of policy content (education, health, social services, and social security) in a readable and clear way. The authors emphasize the importance of social policy to urban and rural development.

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  • Isbister, John. 2006. Promises not kept: Poverty and the Betrayal of Third World Development. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian.

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    Provides essential background content on the history of colonialism, independence movements, development policies, and aid and trade relationships among richer and poorer countries. Valuable assigned reading for students without strong backgrounds in history and political science.

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  • Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as freedom. New York: Knopf.

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    A seminal work by the social economist Amartya Sen. The book expresses a philosophy of development that will resonate with social work thinking.

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  • Stoesz, David, Charles Guzzetta, and Mark Lusk. 1999. International development. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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    This book authored by three social work scholars attempts to do a lot. It begins with sections on diverse parts of the world and their experiences with development. Of particular interest are case studies, including Habitat in Malawi and the Grameen Bank model of microcredit.

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  • United Nations. 2000. Millennium Development Goals. New York: United Nations.

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    The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000 at the Millennium Summit of world leaders. They commit leaders to achieve eight goals with measurable targets by 2015. Essential reading. Accessible in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2003.

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  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Human development reports.

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    These annual reports from the largest development body of the United Nations are essential for teaching and learning about international development. Each highlights a particular theme (climate change, water, cultural liberty; the 2009 report will highlight migration) and all contain extensive statistics on progress by country, including the agency’s well-known Human Development Index rankings.

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  • Uvin, Peter. 2004. Human rights and development. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian.

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    This development scholar presents human rights as essential to development. The arguments should resonate with social workers.

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  • World Summit for Social Development. 1995. Copenhagen Declaration and programme of action. World Summit for Social Development, 6–12 March 1995. New York: United Nations.

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    A seminal document on development issued by a world summit of government leaders. The document identifies three pillars of development: decent work and full employment for all, poverty eradication, and social integration. Many believe it should be essential reading for international social work.

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Social Development

In the late 1970s and early 1980s social work joined with others in critiquing the focus of the United Nations and the World Bank on economics and called attention to the need for social and integrated development. Social work scholars and practitioners have paid particular attention to the social dimensions of development and have contributed to the literature in the field of social development. This section contains both recent and older sources. Omer 1979 and Paiva 1977, both by scholars with practical development experience, were significant early social work contributions to defining the field of social development. Perhaps more than any other social worker, Dan Sanders promoted the importance of social development. He spells out the approach in Sanders 1982. James Midgley has continued to expand and refine the understanding of social development. Midgley 1995 is recommended for linking development with social welfare policy. For case examples, see George 2002 or articles in the journal Social Development Issues.

  • Estes, Richard J. 2005. Global change and indicators of social development. In Handbook of community practice. Edited by Marie Weil, 508–528. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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    Estes is a leader in the use of social indicators to measure development in a comprehensive manner. This article is a useful overview of some of his more recent work.

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  • George, Usha. 2002. Strategies for social development: Lessons from Kerala’s experience. Social Development Issues 23.1: 15–24.

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    Draws attention to the interesting case of the state of Kerala in India, a state with low economic indicators but a sustained record of achievement of positive levels of human development. A useful case example for understanding social development.

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  • Midgley, James. 1995. Social development: The developmental perspective in social welfare. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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    Explicates social development as an approach to social welfare that can bridge the divide between the residual and the institutional approach. A good introduction to social development.

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  • Omer, Salima. 1979. Social development. International Social Work 22.3: 11–26.

    DOI: 10.1177/002087287902200303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Omer, a social worker who was also an expert with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), helped shape social work’s understanding of the concept of social development. Written over three decades ago, the article is still quoted in social work literature on the topic.

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  • Paiva, J. F. X. 1977. A conception of social development. Social Service Review 51: 327–336.

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    The article is historically important as early social work scholarship on social development. The perspectives presented are still relevant and provide a base for more recent work.

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  • Sanders, Daniel S., ed. 1982. The developmental perspective in social work. Manoa: Univ. of Hawaii, School of Social Work.

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    Dan Sanders was instrumental in encouraging social work educators, especially those in the United States, to consider social development approaches.

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  • Social Development Issues.

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    The journal of the International Consortium for Social Development. It emphasizes articles on social development but also publishes on broader issues in international social work.

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  • Wilson, Maureen G., and Elizabeth Whitmore. 2000. Seeds of fire: Social development in the era of globalization. Croton-on-Hudson, NY: Apex.

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    Two Canadian scholars with broad experience in Latin America present a progressive view of the demands for development.

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Human Rights

Along with development, human rights has been a major emphasis for international work through the United Nations since at least 1993. The global social work profession has closely aligned its mission and values with human rights. This is clearly evident in United Nations 1994, a social work human rights manual published by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in collaboration with the United Nations. A good starting point for readings on human rights is Wronka 1995. Social work scholarship on human rights has expanded considerably since 2000. Recent works such as Ife 2008, Reichert 2003, Reichert 2007, and Wronka 2008 provide human rights knowledge infused with social work values. Healy 2008 is recommended for a critical historical examination of social work involvement with human rights. Scholars and students will find Mishra 2005 an important contribution. Students of human rights should also consult the website of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for updated data on treaty compliance and emerging issues.

  • Healy, Lynne M. 2008. Exploring the history of social work as a human rights profession. International Social Work 51.6: 735–748.

    DOI: 10.1177/0020872808095247Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Uses historical documents to evaluate the profession’s claim that social work is a human rights profession. While its scope is constrained by limited access to international documents, the article is useful.

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  • Ife, Jim. 2008. Human rights and social work. Rev. ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Ife’s book stands out among human rights and social work texts for its attention to human rights in social work processes as well as the human rights treaties and machinery of the United Nations and other official bodies. A thought-provoking book with much to offer.

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  • Mishra, Ramesh. 2005. Social rights as human rights: Globalizing social protection. International Social Work 48.1: 9–20.

    DOI: 10.1177/0020872805048705Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Tackles the challenges of social rights and explores the practice and ethical implications of the concept of progressive realization. It is a thought-provoking piece on an aspect of human rights of particular relevance to social work.

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  • Reichert, Elisabeth. 2003. Social work and human rights. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Provides an easy-to-read overview of major human rights covenants and conventions and their applicability to social work.

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  • Reichert, Elisabeth, ed. 2007. Challenges in human rights: A social work perspective. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    This is an up-to-date collection of chapters on topics in human rights written by many of the foremost social work scholars in human rights. Topics include women’s rights, children’s rights, rights of the incarcerated, and social and economic rights. Highly recommended.

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  • United Nations. 1994. Human rights and social work: A training manual. Geneva: United Nations Centre for Human Rights.

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    Written by representatives of the international social work organizations, provides an overview of key human rights instruments and their implications for social work practice. The appendix contains brief vignettes of human rights situations from diverse countries. It was the first in a United Nations series on human rights for the professions. A revision of the manual is planned for 2010.

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  • United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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    This website is a real gem for students and researchers for full text of all United Nations human rights instruments and updates on human rights issues. Of particular interest are the periodic country self-reports and treaty body assessments of compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and others.

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    • Wronka, Joseph. 1995. Human rights. In Encyclopedia of social work, 19th ed. Edited by R. Edwards, 1405–1418. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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      Gives the readers a sound overview of human rights and is a good introduction to the topic. A newer version of this article in the 20th edition (2008) of the encyclopedia is perhaps more accessible but less useful due to word limits imposed on it. It is still a good beginning point for students.

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    • Wronka, Joseph. 2008. Human rights and social justice: Social action and service for the helping and health professions. Los Angeles: Sage.

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      Links the concepts of human rights and social justice and connects both to intervention models, especially to generalist practice. Wronka’s ideas on building a human rights culture will resonate with social work students. Archival photographs enrich the book.

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    Migration And Transnationalism

    Most contemporary authors consider migration and the newer concept of transnationalism to be significant elements of international social work. The works in this section are suggested for an overview of the topic. Drachman 1992 provides a useful framework for practice and is a good starting point. National Association of Social Workers 2009 is particularly useful in understanding U.S. migration policy and issues. Dominelli 2007 and Franger and Necasová 2008 are recommended for a more global view. Potocky-Tripodi 2002 is an important textbook on migration.

    • Dominelli, Lena. 2007. Revitalising communities in a globalizing world. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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      While the book is broader in scope than migration, it is particularly recommended for the section addressing migration. Chapters by Sven Hessle, John Small, Abye Tasse, and Lincoln Williams are especially interesting for their diverse and innovative treatment of migration.

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    • Drachman, Diane. 1992. A stage-of-migration framework for service to immigrant populations. Social Work 37:68–72.

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      Arguing that social workers must consider premigration, transit, and resettlement experiences to effectively serve migrant populations, this article is a classic and should be widely read as an introduction to practice with migrants.

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    • Drachman, Diane, and Ana Paolino, eds. 2004. Immigrants and social work: Thinking beyond the borders of the United States. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Social Work.

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      Useful collection of chapters, some addressing broad issues of migration theory and policy and others country or population specific.

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    • Franger, Gaby, and Mirka Necasová, eds. 2008. On the move: European social work responses to migration. Rome: Carocci.

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      Useful new collection of chapters giving insight into European realities and perspectives on migration. The book was supported by the European Union.

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    • Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies.

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      A specialized social work journal useful for its attention to contemporary studies and topics in immigration policy and social services.

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    • National Association of Social Workers. 2009. Immigrants and refugees. In Social work speaks: NASW policy statements 2006–2009. By the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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      A useful summary of the ebb and flow of humanitarianism and exclusion in the history of U.S. immigration policy and a policy statement with specific recommendations for social work advocacy.

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    • Potocky-Tripodi, Miriam. 2002. Best practices for social work with refugees and immigrants. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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      A comprehensive treatment of social work practice with immigrants and refugees in the U.S. context.

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    Definitional Debates

    Scholars have devoted considerable attention to defining international social work. Goldman 1962 and Warren 1939 are of historical importance, whereas Haug 2005 and Healy 2008 bring the debate to the present. Hare 2004 addresses the international definition of social work rather than the definition of international social work. Nonetheless this definition is of critical importance to the field of international social work.

    • Goldman, Benjamin W. 1962. International social work as a professional function. International Social Work 5.3: 1–8.

      DOI: 10.1177/002087286200500301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An early article on definitions suggesting that international social work be added as one of the social work methods. Rarely cited, the article is useful in understanding the history of the definitional debates.

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    • Hare, Isadora. 2004. Defining social work for the 21st century: The International Federation of Social Workers’ revised definition of social work. International Social Work 47.3: 406–424.

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      Unlike the other articles in this section, Hare discusses the process and outcome of arriving at the most recent international definition of social work.

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    • Haug, Erika. 2005. Critical reflections on the emerging discourse of international social work. Social Work 48.2: 126–135.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872805050204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Sharply critical of the Western and male bias that she identifies in theorizing about international social work, Haug calls for more emphasis on social justice and a wider discourse. Useful reading in conjunction with other authors, such as Karen Lyons and Lynne M. Healy.

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    • Healy, Lynne M. 2008. International social work: Why is it important and what is it? In International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. By Lynne M. Healy, 3–22. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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      A useful summary of the evolution of contested definitions of international social work and presentation of the author’s updated definition of the field.

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    • Warren, George. 1939. International social work. In Social work yearbook 1939. Edited by Russell H. Kurtz, 192–196. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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      Useful from a historical perspective. A quite specific early definition of the concept that is often neglected in later writings on the topic.

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    Universalism And Indigenization

    The question of whether social work is a universal profession has dogged international social work. Although not the first to raise the issue of lack of fit of Western models of social work in developing country contexts, Midgley 1981 became the focal point for further debates on the topic. The readings in this section include more recent treatments of the tensions between universalism and indigenization. They include articles that continue the criticism of universality, such as Yip 2006, and those that offer new directions to the debate, such as Yunong and Xiong 2008 and Ferguson 2005. Gray 2005 and Gray and Fook 2004 are suggested for their treatments of the complexities of universalism. Payne 1998 approaches the topic from a different vantage point, exploring how and why social work emerges and takes shape in different contexts. Weiss, et al. 2003 offers data from an important international study to shed light on the universality of social work ideology. This should be of particular interest to those considering future research on the topic.

    • Ferguson, Kristin M. 2005. Beyond indigenization and reconceptualization: Towards a global, multidirectional model of technology transfer. International Social Work 48.5: 519–533.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872805055315Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Although not the first to suggest mutual exchange, Ferguson presents a model for exchange of knowledge and interventions among countries at varying levels of development. Also useful as a review of earlier conceptualizations of technology transfer.

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    • Gray, Mel. 2005. Dilemmas of international social work: Paradoxical processes in indigenisation, universalism, and imperialism. International Journal of Social Welfare 14:231–238.

      DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2005.00363.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Explores controversial themes and tensions in the drive to internationalize social work. Particularly interesting is Gray’s suggestion that international social work should be viewed as locally multifaceted rather than focusing on universalism.

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    • Gray, Mel, and Jan Fook. 2004. The quest for a universal social work: Some issues and implications. Social Work Education 23.5: 625–644.

      DOI: 10.1080/0261547042000252334Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The authors challenge the wisdom of pursuing universalism through standards and definitions and explore whether international social work and universal social work are necessarily linked. A thought-provoking article by two leading scholars.

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    • Midgley, James. 1981. Professional imperialism: Social work in the third world. London: Heinemann.

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      Written almost three decades ago, Midgley’s book still generates controversy and is often quoted. While many of the points and examples can be contested, it is essential reading for anyone delving seriously into the debates over indigenization and transferability of models of social work.

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    • Nimmagadda, Jayashree, and Charles D. Cowger. 1999. Cross-cultural practice: Social worker ingenuity in the indigenization of practice knowledge. International Social Work 42.3: 261–276.

      DOI: 10.1177/002087289904200302Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Frequently quoted article taking a positive approach to the topic of indigenization. The authors emphasize the benefits emerging from adaptation of ideas and knowledge in contrast to the many articles that criticize cross-national transfer.

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    • Payne, Malcolm. 1998. Why social work? Comparative perspectives on social issue and response formation. International Social Work 41.4: 443–453.

      DOI: 10.1177/002087289804100405Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An interesting examination of the forces that give rise to social work in various societies. Recommended reading for graduate students in courses examining the profession.

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    • Weiss, Idit, John Gal, and John Dixon, eds. 2003. Professional ideologies and preferences in social work: A global study. Westport, CT: Praeger.

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      Based on data from surveying social work students in ten countries across six continents, this is a useful comparative examination of professional values and orientations.

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    • Yip, K. S. 2006. Indigenization of social work: An international perspective and conceptualization. Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development 16.1: 43–55.

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      Advances understanding of indigenization by presenting a tridimensional model for analysis and practice. The three dimensions of universality-specificity, dominance-minority, and tradition-current situations are suggested as considerations for appropriate practice.

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    • Yunong Huang, and Xiong Zhang. 2008. A reflection on the indigenization discourse in social work. International Social Work 51.5: 611–622.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872808093340Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A thought-provoking article that challenges earlier scholarship on the theme. Suggested for reading along with articles promoting indigenization.

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    International Social Work Organizations

    Organization is considered a hallmark of a profession, and social work internationally is no exception. A global conference held in 1928 gave birth to two international social work organizations and a third organization devoted more broadly to social welfare. Although slightly renamed over the years, these remain the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Federation of Social Workers, and the International Council on Social Welfare. A fourth related organization, the International Consortium for Social Development, organized in the 1970s, is also largely made up of social workers. Readers are referred to the websites of the organizations and to the articles Hall 2008, Johannesen 1997, and Tasse 2008 that describe the organizations’ histories and purposes. Healy and Hall 2007 is a useful overview of the history and current priorities of the three organizations. Elliott 2008 is different in that it addresses the global governmental organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are significant actors in international social welfare.

    Values And Ethics

    Values and ethics are critical components of international social work practice. Reading International Federation of Social Workers and International Association of Schools of Social Work 2004 is recommended as a starting place. Link 1999 and Healy 2008 provide overviews of global considerations in ethics. Healy 2007 and Hugman 2008 present alternative views on universalism and cultural relativism; this discussion is continued in Banks, et al. 2008. Together these works are useful in introducing students and practitioners to the core debate within global ethics, the extent to which ethical principles should be viewed as universal or relative to context and culture. The launch of an international journal on ethics, Ethics and Social Welfare, should enhance the available literature on the topic.

    International Social Work Education

    International social work education is a broad topic that encompasses literature and practical materials on the rationale for and strategies to internationalize social work curriculum, literature on educational standards in social work, and comparative works on social work education as it is implemented in diverse countries.

    Curriculum and Field

    This section includes sources addressing the need to add international content to social work education and suggested models for doing so. The sources range from curriculum guides to articles on considerations in arranging international field placements or in engaging in international partnerships. Sanders and Pedersen 1984 is an excellent early collection of articles on approaches to international social work education. Link and Healy 2005 is recommended for educators seeking ideas for adding international content to their curricula. Lyons and Ramanathan 1999 and Pettys, et al. 2005 will help educators think through optimal models and challenges in designing international field placement experiences. Healy, et al. 2003, a collection of case studies, offers numerous models for successful international educational collaborations. The move to internationalize curricula is underway in many parts of the world. Lyons 2005 is useful for an introduction to European efforts.

    • Healy, Lynne M., Yvonne Wood Asamoah, and Merl C. Hokenstad. 2003. Models of international collaboration in social work education. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

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      Introduces the theory and practice underpinning international collaboration to enhance social work education programs. Eleven case studies describe collaboration initiatives between North American schools of social work and social work programs in countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The volume emphasizes lessons learned that can be useful to programs considering international projects.

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    • Link, Rosemary J., and Lynne M. Healy, eds. 2005. Teaching international content: Curriculum resources for social work education. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

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      A resource for curriculum development, this volume contains a peer-reviewed course syllabus and curriculum modules. Included are foundation courses with significant infused international content and specialized courses in international development, human rights, and women. Modules address additional topics, including ethics and racism and oppression.

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    • Lyons, Karen. 2005. Internationalizing social work education: Considerations and developments. Birmingham, UK: Venture Press.

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      This small volume presents British and European perspectives on internationalizing social work curriculum.

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    • Lyons, Karen, and Chathapuram S. Ramanathan. 1999. Models of field practice in global settings. In All our futures: Principles and resources for social work practice in a global era. By Chathapuram S. Ramanathan and Rosemary J. Link, 175–192. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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      A useful typology of international field placements with analysis and recommendations.

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    • Pettys, Gregory L., Patrick T. Panos, Shirley. E. Cox, and Kim Oosthuysen. 2005. Four models of international field placement. International Social Work 48.3: 277–288.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872805051705Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Reporting on a survey of U.S. schools that places students in international field placements, the authors identify four models of international placement that emerge from the data. A useful analysis of international placement practices.

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    • Sanders, Daniel S., and Paul Pedersen, eds. 1984. Education for international social welfare. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii School of Social Work.

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      For those with an interest in the history of interest in an international curriculum, this volume is perhaps the best produced during the 1980s. The introductory chapters address the rationale for international curriculum in social work and are followed by chapters on course content and field learning.

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    International Standards and Comparisons

    International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) 2004 is a set of standards for social work education adopted by the organizations. Implications of these standards are examined from diverse perspectives in Sewpaul and Preston-Shoot 2004. Together the standards and the critiques in the journal are recommended for a thorough overview of the issues in global standard setting. Hessle 2001 and Lorenz 2005 are recommended for an introduction to standards issues raised in Europe by efforts to recognize credentials across nations. Hokenstad 2008 gives a global view of the structure and content of social work education and is a good starting place for readers. Watts, et al. 1995 will be of interest for comparative study or for information on particular countries. The Barretta-Herman 2005 findings from global surveys of social work schools are welcome data-based additions to the literature.

    • Barretta-Herman, Angeline. 2005. A reanalysis of the IASSW World Census 2000. International Social Work 48.6: 794–808.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872805057089Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Results of this global survey of schools of social work are reported. Although hindered by limited response, the data from the survey and conclusions reported nonetheless provide useful comparative information. Recommended reading both for methodology and for findings.

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    • Barretta-Herman, Angeline. 2008. Meeting the expectations of the global standards: A status report on the IASSW membership. International Social Work 51.6: 823–834.

      DOI: 10.1177/0020872808095253Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Findings from educational programs in twenty-eight countries are linked to the global standards in this 2005 survey. Useful in summarizing areas where educational standards are universally met and areas of divergence.

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    • Hessle, Sven. 2001. International standard setting of higher social work education. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm Univ. Dept. of Social Work.

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      This small volume contains pieces by several noted European scholars, including Hessle and Malcolm Payne, addressing challenges in setting educational standards.

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    • Hokenstad, Terry M. C. 2008. International social work education. In Encyclopedia of social work, 20th ed., vol. 2. Edited by Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 488–493. New York: Oxford Univ. Press and National Association of Social Workers.

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      Useful overview of the development of social work education globally and selected current issues.

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    • International Association of Schools of Social Work and International Federation of Social Workers. 2004. Global standards for the education and training of the social work profession.

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      Adopted in 2004 by the two international organizations, the standards are guidelines for social work programs throughout the world. Developed through an extensive process of international consultation, they are an important step in efforts to define social work globally and to set quality assessment targets. See also International Association of Schools of Social Work.

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    • Lorenz, Walter. 2005. Social work and the Bologna process. Social Work and Society 3.2: 224–235.

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      To understand current social work education in Europe, some introduction to the Bologna process is essential. The Bologna process is part of the efforts to harmonize education across Europe.

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    • Sewpaul, Vishanthie and Michael Preston-Shoot, eds. 2004. Global standards. Special issue, Social Work Education 23.5.

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      This special issue was published to complement the adoption of the Global Standards for the Education and Training of the Social Work Profession by the International Association of Schools of Social Work and International Federation of Social Workers. Addresses issues in diverse regions of the world, particularly competing forces of universalism and the locally specific.

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    • Watts, Thomas D., Doreen Elliott, and Nazneen S. Mayadas, eds. 1995. International handbook on social work education. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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      Although dated, this volume is still useful in illuminating similarities and differences in social work education around the world. Most chapters begin with an overview of the history of social work education and describe qualifications and note any controversies or distinguishing features. The scope is impressive, as twenty-three countries from six continents are included.

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    Social Work In Diverse Countries

    One approach to international social work is to examine social work as it is practiced in various countries. A starting place is the set of brief articles on social work in diverse regions of the world in Osei-Hwedie, et al. 2008. For more in-depth portraits of individual countries, Campanini and Frost 2004, Hokenstad, et al. 1992, Mayadas, et al. 1997, and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) volumes address selected country examples and provide both an orientation to social work in diverse countries and information that allows for analysis of similarities and differences. Lavalette and Ferguson 2007 differs in treating a single theme (the radical tradition) in examining country examples. Similarly the new book Gray, et al. 2008 focuses on social work and indigenous peoples. Lorenz 2006 is recommended for an more analytical discussion of European social work issues.

    • Campanini, Annamaria, and Elizabeth Frost, eds. 2004. European social work: Commonalities and differences. Rome: Carocci.

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      Published with support from the European Union. A useful overview of social work in twenty-four European countries. Campanini is the head of the European Association of Schools of Social Work.

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    • Gray, Mel, John Coates, and Michael Yellow Bird. 2008. Indigenous social work around the world. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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      Brings together authors from diverse countries to address issues in indigenous social work and the lessons learned for Western social work. A useful new addition to the literature and an opportunity to read chapters by scholars from first nations.

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    • Hokenstad, Merl C. “Terry,” and James Midgley, eds. 2004. Lessons from abroad: Adapting international social welfare innovations. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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      Primarily aiming at the U.S. audience, the editors emphasize learning from abroad. They present innovations in the fields of aging, child welfare, social security, poverty alleviation, and mental and social development that may be adaptable to American policy. The closing chapter addresses the implications of United Nations human rights treaties for U.S. policy and practice.

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    • Hokenstad, Merl C. “Terry,” Shanti Khinduka, and James Midgley, eds. 1992. Profiles in international social work. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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      Although dated, this carefully planned and organized book is still of interest. While each chapter follows the same outline of essential information, each highlights a specific theme of relevance to the country, such as societal aging in Japan and the emergence from apartheid in South Africa. Chapter authors are drawn from the countries discussed.

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    • International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). Social work around the world I, II, III, IV. Bern, Switzerland: International Federation of Social Workers.

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      A series of books covering social work and social work issues in diverse countries. All volumes may not be currently available. For information, see International Federation of Social Workers.

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    • Lavalette, Michael, and Iain Ferguson, eds. 2007. International social work and the radical tradition. Birmingham, UK: Venture.

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      Addresses the need for the radical element in social work to challenge global capitalism and managerialism. Chapters discuss radical traditions in diverse countries, including New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Slovenia, and Palestine. The introductory and concluding chapters are particularly recommended for a treatment of radical social work in the international context.

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    • Lorenz, Walter. 2006. Perspectives on European social work: From the birth of the nation state to the impact of globalisation. Farmington Hills, MI: Budrich.

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      An update on issues facing social work in Europe from one of European social work’s leading scholars.

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    • Mayadas, Nazneen S., Thomas D. Watts, and Doreen Elliott, eds. 1997. International handbook on social work theory and practice. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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      Although somewhat dated, the volume is a useful compendium of chapters on social work practice in diverse countries on six continents. It provides a base for further reading and research on countries of interest, as does the companion volume on social work education.

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    • Osei-Hwedie, Kwaku, Ngoh Tiong Tan, Mel Gray and Kylie Agillias, Peta-Anne Baker, Maria Julia, David N. Jones, John Graham and Alean Al-Krenawi, West Shera, and Irene Queiro-Tajalli. 2008. International social work and social welfare. In Encyclopedia of social work, 20th ed. Edited by Terry Mizrahi and Larry E. Davis, 493–528. New York: Oxford Univ. Press and National Association of Social Workers.

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      This article has nine subsections, one each on Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific islands, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, North America, and South America. Many are written by authors from the regions, and all give an overview of current issues and practice. A useful starting place for comparisons.

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    Comparative And Global Policy

    Comparative social policy is the examination of how different countries respond to social welfare problems. Numerous books and articles compare two or more country approaches to social issues. Fewer works examine global problems and policies. The texts in this section are pitched at a wide range of levels. Deacon 2007 and Deacon, et al. 1997 emphasize policy at the global level and are most appropriate for advanced readers. Van Wormer 2003 can be used in introductory social welfare policy courses to introduce a global dimension, while Midgley 1997 gives an introduction to social welfare theories and models. Cousins 2005 focuses solely on welfare state comparisons, while Hokenstad and Midgley 1997, though somewhat dated, addresses a wide scope of policy areas and is useful as a supplementary text. George and Page 2004 is a useful supplementary text in policy courses and can stand alone as an introduction to a range of global social problems. The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) Policy Papers are recommended; they tie global policy problems to professional action.

    • Cousins, Mel. 2005. European welfare states: Comparative perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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      Presents theories of welfare states within the context of globalization. Country studies are presented and are useful for comparisons. Issues of gender and public opinion are also highlighted. Recommended for those with a special interest in welfare state models and current trends.

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    • Deacon, Bob. 2007. Global social policy and governance. London: Sage.

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      The emphasis of the book is on global institutions and the development of social policy. Recommended for scholars and doctoral students in particular.

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    • Deacon, Bob, with Michelle Hulse, and Paul Stubbs. 1997. Global social policy: International organizations and the future of welfare. London: Sage.

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      An important book addressing policy at the global level. Appropriate for more advanced students and for readers with an interest in global policy issues.

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    • George, Vic, and Robert M. Page, eds. 2004. Global social problems. Oxford: Polity.

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      This book is useful as an accessible introduction to a range of global issues, including racism, poverty, family violence, drugs, and migration. Can be used by social work educators as a companion text in social welfare policy to add a global dimension.

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    • Hokenstad, M. C., and James Midgley, eds. 1997. Issues in international social work. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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      This edited collection addresses a variety of global issues. Of particular note are chapters on global aging, ethnic conflict, and the global economy as these topics are infrequently treated in the comparative social work literature.

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    • International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW). Policy papers.

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      Fourteen policy statements developed and adopted by the international organization stating global social work positions on a range of themes, such as human rights, women, and indigenous people. Useful for advocacy and for teaching.

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    • Midgley, James. 1997. Social welfare in global context. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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      In contrast to Van Wormer 2003, Midgley presents a global view of social welfare, introducing theories and models of the welfare state and challenges for the future. This book provides the reader with a general understanding of social welfare broadly defined. The concluding section addresses international social work and social development.

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    • Van Wormer, Katherine S. 2003. Social welfare: A world view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning.

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      A social policy text presented in a global context. The book covers the essential elements of U.S. social welfare policy and services but also addresses selected global problems and issues, such as poverty in a comparative perspective. A useful text for introducing global content into mainstream U.S. social work courses.

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    Researching International Social Work

    There is limited social work literature specifically on the topic of research in international social work. Tripodi and Potocky-Tripodi 2007 aims to unite the growing interest in international social work with the increased emphasis on research. Crisp 2004 is recommended for raising awareness of the extent to which scholars artificially limit their scope of research in many ways, including examining only sources from their own country and language. Richard J. Estes’ work on social indicators provides one approach to international research. It is reflected in Estes 1988 and also in numerous other articles included on the Praxis website (Estes 2008). The Praxis site also suggests other databases for global research. Readers will find examples of cross-national and occasionally global research in selected articles in International Social Work.

    • Crisp, Beth R. 2004. Evidence-based practice and the borders of data in the global information era. Journal of Social Work Education 40.1: 73–86.

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      Calls attention to the growth in the amount of data available to scholars as a result of information technology. The author challenges readers to consider the validity of the parameters of their literature searches; of relevance to international social work research is the author’s challenge to consider research published abroad or in diverse languages.

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    • Estes, Richard J. 1988. Trends in world social development: The social progress of nations, 1970–1986. New York: Praeger.

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      Richard J. Estes’ work on indicators to measure national social well-being remains a significant contribution to the field of development and indicator-based research. Using thirty-six indicators, his index of social progress is considerably more complex than the more commonly used Human Development Index. Recommended for scholars in development and cross-national research.

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    • Estes, Richard J. 2008. Praxis: Resources for social and economic development.

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      This website contains links to numerous resources useful in research on international social work. The site is well organized with sections on population groups, practice sectors, aspects of development, and links to significant global statistical reports. A good starting point for researchers.

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    • International Social Work.

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      Published by Sage and cosponsored by the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW), and the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), this is a primary outlet for comparative research studies by social work scholars. Most issues include two-country comparative studies with occasional more global studies.

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    • Social Welfare History Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries.

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      Although the emphasis in the archives’ extensive collections is on U.S. social work history, the library holds the records of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW). Materials on numerous U.S.-based organizations also include records of international activity. An excellent resource for historical research.

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      • Tripodi, Tony, and Miriam Potocky-Tripodi. 2007. International social work research: Issues and prospects. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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        Intended for scholars and students. The authors present a typology of international social work research and examples of research studies in each type. The book could be used as a supplement to more general research texts and would be particularly useful to scholars, including doctoral students, considering international research.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 12/14/2009

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389678-0104

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