Social progress powered by science

From stopping family violence to closing the health gap and ending homelessness, the most pressing issues facing America today have one thing in common: a social factor.

To galvanize social work expertise, education, research and practice, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare launched the Grand Challenges for Social Work in 2016. This groundbreaking initiative champions social progress powered by science—and provides a structure to explore innovative approaches, build surprising partnership and work across sectors to strengthen the social fabric in 12 key areas.

The grand challenges framework has an illustrious history in increasing progress in other fields, including mathematics, global health and engineering, but the concept is a first for social work.  “This is an opportunity to catalyze the profession in a way that’s never been done before,” says Richard Barth, president of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, which oversees this national effort. Read the Wikipedia profile here.

The School of Social Work has been at the center of the Grand Challenges initiative since the beginning, when the idea grew out of a 2012 gathering co-sponsored by the Dean Uehara. In recognition of her contributions and the impact of the Grand Challenges for Social Work, the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare named Uehara as an inaugural honorary fellow. Read more here.

Today, our faculty is taking the lead in authoring white papers on topics ranging from harnessing technology for social good to reducing the income-disparity gap. The School is also deploying the "ensuring healthy development for all youth" challenge in Southeast and Central Seattle, making a real and measurable impact through its Communities in Action initiative.