In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section International Social Work and Education

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Historical Perspectives
  • The Agenda for Internationalization of Social Work Education
  • Social Work Research and Teaching
  • Programs with an International Focus

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Social Work International Social Work and Education
Margaret Lombe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0208


The past few years have seen an increase in effort to internationalize social work education in the United States. The surge is motivated, in part, by the availability and accessibility of opportunities for internationalization, a commitment to bring a global perspective of social issues into the classroom, and a growing appreciation of challenges that globalization presents to the social work profession. Overall, efforts to internationalize social work education have remained largely restricted to research and field experience. Inclusion of international content in other areas of social work education remains relatively lacking. The main organizing frameworks in international social work education have been capacity building/empowerment and social justice along with rights-based approaches.

General Overviews

The sources included provide an overview of the field of international social work education. These sources include online material available at the Council on Social Work Education, Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work as well as textbooks (Healy 2001; Lyons, et al. 2012), edited volumes (Borrmann, et al. 2007) and peer-reviewed manuscripts (Asamoah, et al. 1997; Dominelli 2004; Johnson 2004; Nagy and Fake 2011).

  • Asamoah, Yvonne, Lynne Healy, and Nazneen Mayadas. 1997. Ending the international–domestic dichotomy: New approaches to a global curriculum for the millennium. Journal of Social Work Education 33.2: 389–401.

    Article advocates for changes in the way social work educators approach international curriculum development in the United States. The authors call for abandoning the conceptual separation of domestic and international context and moving toward a curriculum with a global perspective.

  • Borrmann, Stefan, Michael Klassen, and Christian Spatscheck. 2007. Social work in the international context. In International social work: Social problems, cultural issues and social work education. Edited by Stefan Borrmann, Michael Klassen, and Christian Spatscheck, 9–14. Opladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich.

    An edited volume focusing on three key issues of international social work: international dimensions of social problems, cultural issues impacting social work practice, and international approaches in social work education.

  • Council on Social Work Education, Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work.

    The institute presents guidelines for excellence in international social work. Material is provided to assist educators, researchers, students, and practitioners to develop a global perspective to their work.

  • Dominelli, Lena. 2004. International social work education at the crossroads. Social Work and Society 2.1: 87–95.

    Author challenges the argument that internationalization is a new phenomenon in social work. Social work’s longstanding history of practice and scholarship across borders is underscored.

  • Healy, Lynne. 2001. International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Book offers a comprehensive overview of international social work. A review of the history of social work is provided as well as the international dimensions of social work. The subject of global interdependence is underscored.

  • Johnson, Alice K. 2004. Increasing internationalization of social work programs: Healy’s continuum as a strategic planning guide. International Social Work 47.1: 7–23.

    DOI: 10.1177/0020872804036445

    The article proposes the Healy framework to guide the internalization of schools of social work. The work of the Local Inter-National Konnections Committee is described.

  • Lyons, Karen, Terry Hokenstad, Mahohar Pawar, Nathalie Huegler, and Nigel Hall, eds. 2012. The SAGE handbook of international social work. London: SAGE.

    The book addresses the global/local aspect of social work in its various forms. The main concerns that societies experience are tackled through an international lens. The chapters on education, theory, research, and practice will be especially useful.

  • Nagy, Geza, and Daine Fake. 2011. Dilemmas in international and cross-cultural social work education. International Social Work 43.1: 49–60.

    The authors capture the effects of global processes on the social work profession. Challenges and opportunities for internationalizing social work education are highlighted.

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