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Dean Uehara spotlights the role of scientific social work in creating change

February 4, 2016

Here’s a question for everyone who wants to change the world: Which of these innovations will have more impact on society—a first-of-its-kind experimental vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS that’s been developed by a venture-capital-backed biotechnology company, or a big-data research study from a social work scholar that identifies the role that alcohol consumption plays in the contraction of HIV/AIDS? My answer is both.

Each of these rigorous, cutting-edge and science-based initiatives has the potential to transform our society in a real and enduring way; each seeks to improve and save lives; and each attempts to enhance well being within an often marginalized community.

So, if this is the case, why are the experimental vaccine and the big data research study, which share the same humanistic objectives and social welfare goals, seen in a vastly different light? Indeed, as members of what’s been called the 21st Century Innovation Economy, we are increasingly conditioned to see high-growth technology start-ups as the solution to critical and seemingly intractable problems effectively and efficiently. And, in many instances, we celebrate these groundbreaking efforts, even as they provide entrepreneurs and investors with sumptuous financial rewards.

Study shows U.S. has greater link between low birth weight and inequality

January 28, 2016

Health disparities are common in developed countries, including the U.S., but at what age those inequities take root and how they vary between countries is less clear.

New research from the University of Washington compares the link between income, education and low birth weight in the United States with those in three comparable countries: the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Low birth weight is a primary risk factor for infant deaths and is considered a key predictor of health and socioeconomic status throughout life and across generations.

The paper, published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health, found that while low birth weight was linked to lower income and education levels in all four countries, that connection was most persistent in the U.S.

Grand Challenges for Social Work identify 12 top social problems facing America

January 14, 2016

Washington, D.C.—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 and Social Welfare 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 takes place today at the opening plenary session of the Society for Social Work and Research 20th Anniversary Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. with the UW School of Social Work Dean and SSWR President Edwina Uehara (pictured, right).

“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, 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.

Watch the Grand Challenges for Social Work video here.

Together, the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work 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:

  • Close the health gap. More than 60 million Americans have inadequate access to basic health care while also enduring the effects of discrimination, poverty, and dangerous environments that accelerate higher rates of illness. Innovative and evidence-based social strategies can improve health care and lead to broad gains in the health of our entire society.
  • Ensure healthy development for all youthEach year, more than six million young people receive treatment for severe mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. Strong evidence shows us how to prevent many behavioral health problems before they emerge.
  • Stop family violence. Assaults by parents, intimate partners, and adult children frequently result in serious injury and even death. Proven interventions can prevent abuse, identify abuse sooner, break the cycle of violence, or find safe alternatives.
  • Advance long and productive lives. Throughout the lifespan, fuller engagement in education and paid and unpaid productive activities can generate a wealth of benefits, including better health and well-being, greater financial security, and a more vital society.
  • Eradicate social isolation. Social isolation is a silent killer, as dangerous to health as smoking. Our challenge is to educate the public on this health hazard, encourage health and human service professionals to address social isolation, and promote effective ways to deepen social connections and community for people of all ages.
  • End homelessness. During the course of a year, nearly 1.5 million Americans will experience homelessness for at least one night. Our challenge is to expand proven approaches that have worked in communities across the country, develop new service innovations and technologies, and adopt policies that promote affordable housing and basic income security.
  • Create social responses to a changing environment. Climate change and urban development threaten health, undermine coping, and deepen existing social and environmental inequities. A changing global environment requires transformative social responses: new partnerships, deep engagement with local communities, and innovations to strengthen individual and collective assets.
  • Harness technology for social good. Innovative applications of new digital technology present opportunities for social and human services to reach more people with greater impact, to more strategically target social spending, speed up the development of effective programs, and bring a wider array of help to more individuals and communities.
  • Promote smart decarcerationn. The United States has the world’s largest proportion of people behind bars. Our challenge is to develop a proactive, comprehensive, evidence-based “smart decarceration” strategy that will dramatically reduce the number of people who are imprisoned and enable the nation to embrace a more effective and just approach to public safety.
  • Build financial capability for all. Nearly half of all American households are financially insecure, without adequate savings to meet basic living expenses for three months. We can significantly reduce economic hardship and the debilitating effects of poverty by adopting social policies that bolster lifelong income generation and safe retirement accounts; expand workforce training and re-training; and provide financial literacy and access to quality affordable financial services.
  • Reduce extreme economic inequality. The top 1 percent owns nearly half of the total wealth in the United States, while one in five children live in poverty. We can correct the broad inequality of wealth and income through a variety of innovative means related to wages and tax benefits associated with capital gains, retirement accounts, and home ownership.
  • Achieve equal opportunity and justice. Historic and current prejudice and injustice bars access to success in education and employment. Addressing racial and social injustices, deconstructing stereotypes, dismantling inequality, exposing unfair practices, and accepting the super diversity of the population will advance this challenge.

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 UW School of Social Work played a critical role in the development of the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative. In 2012, the School co-sponsored a conference on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with several national organizations and schools of social work. It was there that Dean Uehara and faculty from the University of Washington proposed the idea of a Grand Challenges effort to capture the public's imagination, mobilize the profession, and spur breakthroughs in social work science, practice and research.

DeLong honored with 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Volunteer Recognition Award

January 7, 2016

James DeLong is the recipient the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Volunteer Recognition Award for the UW School of Social Work.
DeLong (pictured, left) first joined the UW in the late 1970s as a graduate student earning his Master in Social Work degree. Since then, he has been a practicum coordinator, a classroom lecturer, a program director and a beloved mentor for faculty, staff and students. Over the course of four decades, he has exemplified the principles that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Volunteer Recognition Award embodies.
DeLong has devoted his career to educating and supporting the education of social workers serving our most vulnerable populations. In the classroom, he has specialized in teaching courses that explore the intersections of power, privilege and oppression. He is also currently the adviser for the student-led Anti-Racist White Allies Group (ARWAG), devoting significant time and energy to help students reflect on complex racial issues. As an administrator, DeLong directed the School's MSW Extended Degree Program for over two decades. His program leadership contributed to the successful graduation of more than a thousand social workers, each committed to improving the human condition.
DeLong has been a vocal feminist and has both led and participated in many men's groups to dismantle patriarchy. His energy matches his commitment, passion and belief that we all have a responsibility to create a more just society. This commitment to addressing the legacies of colonialism, racism and exploitation can also be found in two School of Social Work endowments that DeLong and his partner, Janet, established: one for social workers committed to working with African-American communities, and one for social workers committed to working in tribal communities.
Please join us at the Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Life and Legacy to honor DeLong and all the award recipients on Wed., Jan. 13, 2016, from 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. at Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Lobby, Health Sciences Center.

Social work professor Jennifer Stuber joins Gov. Inslee in gun violence initiative announcement

January 8, 2016

Two University of Washington faculty members joined Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday as he announced a new initiative to reduce gun-related deaths by strengthening background checks and implementing a statewide suicide prevention plan.

Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor at the UW School of Social Work, and Monica Vavilala, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, stood alongside Inslee as he made the announcement at a mental health center in Burien. “This is a public health response to a public health crisis,” Inslee said. “Every single day, somebody in the state of Washington dies from gun violence.” Inslee’s announcement comes a day after President Obama announced expanded background checks and other measures intended to prevent gun violence nationwide.

Between 2012 and 2014, Inslee said, 665 people in Washington were killed by firearms. Almost 80 percent of those deaths were suicide, he said.

New study explores legal marijuana's impact on alcohol use

December 29, 2015

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in four states and medical marijuana in 23 states. Research on legalization policies has focused largely on how they impact marijuana access and use. But the UW team—led by School of Social Work researcher and lecturer Katarína Guttmannová—wanted to know how legalization affects the use of alcohol, by far the nation’s most popular drug. Does legal marijuana tempt pot users to consume more alcohol — or are they likely to opt for cannabis instead of chardonnay?

Remembering Hy Resnick, a pioneering social work professor and scholar

December 21, 2015

Herman (Hy) Resnick, born in 1930, died on December 10, 2015 at 85 years of age. He was struck by a car during an evening rainstorm not far from his home in Woodinville, Washington. Resnick taught at the UW School of Social Work for 31 years before his retirement in 1998.

“Hy leaves a tremendous legacy of friendship, generosity and social thought that played an important role in the School’s development as a leader in social innovation,” said Eddie Uehara, professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean in Social Work. “He also provided crucial educational leadership and support to students and faculty during a time of social upheaval at the University and rapid change throughout the country. He will be greatly missed.”

Nancy Hooyman, current professor of gerontology and dean emeritus who once taught alongside Resnick, characterized him as a man of great creativity and vision. “Hy saw the potential impact of using technology in social work long before anyone else,” said Hooyman. 

Resnick edited Electronic Tools for Social Work Practice and Education, a textbook demonstrating that computer applications had great potential, not only in research settings, but also in the delivery of human services to vulnerable individuals, families and communities. He also co-edited Change from Within: Humanizing Social Welfare Organizations and authored numerous research articles. Resnick held a PhD from the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College.

“Hy was a strong believer in cross-disciplinary scholarship,” said emeritus faculty member and close friend Richard Weatherley. “He collaborated with computer scientists in developing computer games designed to help adolescents learn mediation skills for conflict resolution, and he joined forces with the UW School of Business to assess responses to budget cutbacks.”

Resnick was an early advocate of organizational development. His group dynamics class was particularly popular in the 1970s, during a time of campus turmoil triggered by student protests and strikes against the Vietnam war. “He was both inspiring and challenging as a teacher, a strong proponent of experiential learning, and an enthusiastic presence in the classroom,” recalled Weatherley.

Former student Nora Gibson stayed in touch with Resnick after she graduated, at one point helping him and his family build a house outside Seattle. “We had many fun weekend days, shingling the cedar roof, putting up drywall and painting,” recalled Gibson who now serves as the executive director of a Seattle organization assisting adults with chronic illnesses and disabilities. “As a student, the lessons I learned in his class about group structures, norms, hidden agendas, types of groups, and intra- and intergroup dynamics have served me throughout my career.”

During his time at the School, Resnick was in great demand as a consultant to service organizations, both throughout the country and as far afield as Russia, Scotland, Australia and Vietnam, where he traveled with Hooyman in the 1990s to promote the development of much-needed social work programs.

Daniel Farber, longtime School supporter and son of the late emeritus social work professor Arthur Farber, recalled how important his father’s deep friendship with Resnick was to both of them. "They shared a passion for improving lives, a delight in exploring the world of ideas, and an appreciation of the importance of and dedication to teaching. They both wanted to change the world and have fun while doing it. Hy, of course, was the better ping pong player, which satisfied him greatly."  

Hy Resnick is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary; son Bill Resnick, his wife Christine and their children Meleya and Elijah; daughter Jennifer Resnick; and daughter Elizabeth Carey, her husband Phil and their child Tyler.

Contributions in Hy’s memory may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Called a “Community Giant,” distinguished alumni Ike Ikeda passes at 91

December 18, 2015

Tsuguo “Ike” Ikeda, noted Seattle nonprofit social service leader and UW School of Social Work alumni, passed on Dec. 2, 2015 at the age of 91.

During his 54-year career in the social work field, Ikeda demonstrated an unwavering dedication to advocating for the needs of youth and minorities, and working to create public policy changes that benefited low-income families and people of color. His efforts shaped politics, policy, management and the practice of social work at the local, state and national levels. In 2005, the School of Social Work recognized Ikeda for his rich contributions to the field of social work and the communities he served with the School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award.

During World War II, Ikeda was incarcerated for 19 months in an American internment camp with 120,000 other individuals of Japanese descent—an experience that would deeply inform the trajectory of his life in service. As Ikeda walked from freedom to imprisonment, he vowed he would spend his life working for those without a voice, according to National Association of Social Work Foundation records. After his time in the internment camp, Ikeda served, along with more than 33,000 other Americans of Japanese descent, in the U.S. Army until the end of the war. Ikeda and other Nisei (second generation) World War II veterans were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2011.

Ikeda earned his MSW degree from the UW School of Social Work in 1951. Soon afterward, he took a job at Neighborhood House. In 1953, he was named executive director of Atlantic Street Center (pictured right with two employees)—the first Asian American to serve in that position, which he held for 33 years. Afterward, he founded his own consulting firm, Tsuguo "Ike" Ikeda & Associates, from which he retired in 1999. Among his many achievements, Ikeda was one of the founding members of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, which played a major role in advising the City of Seattle on minority issues.

Ikeda is survived by his widow Sumi; four daughters: Wanda Ikeda, Helen Ikeda-Gomes, Julie Oshiro, Patricia Matsumiya; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Monday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m., at Blaine Memorial United Methodist Church, 3001 24th Ave. S., in Seattle.

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