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 unique partnership and work across sectors to strengthen the social fabric in 12 key areas. “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 Dean Uehara. In recognition of her contributions, the AASWSW named Uehara as an inaugural honorary fellow. In the same year, she was inducted as a regular fellow, becoming the first person to hold both designations within the academy. UW School of Social Work faculty is also taking the lead on topics ranging from harnessing technology for social good to reducing the income-disparity gap. The School is 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. 

Dean Uehara fosters international understanding of Grand Challenges 
In Sept. 2018,  Dean Eddie Uehara addressed an enthusiastic international audience on Grand Challenges for Social Work at the Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference, held Sept. 3-4 at Canterbury Christ Church University, England. The conference provided a platform to discuss Grand Challenges progress and to formalize an international approach. The U.S. Grand Challenges initiative is now in formal partnership with the UK social work Grand Challenges effort.  

UW lends support to national initiative
In June 2018, the UW Office of the Provost announced that it will fund graduate student research in the Grand Challenges topic areas, signaling the University's support for the School's leadership role in the national effort. The School will match the $25,000 provided by the provost in order to fund $50,000 in financial awards to competitively selected social work graduate students whose dissertation or thesis focuses on one of the 12 Grand Challenges.