School of Social Work Research Groups

The West Coast Poverty Center

Serves as a hub for research, education, and policy analysis leading to greater understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and effective approaches to reducing it in the west coast states. Funded in October of 2005, the Center is the newest of three regional poverty centers funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Education (OASPE). The Center is a collaborative venture of the School of Social Work, the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The Center creates new opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchanges and collaboration among poverty researchers and fosters a network of poverty scholars in the west coast region. The West Coast Poverty Center’s research agenda addresses the causes and consequences of poverty and effective policy responses to it in the west coast region. The Center gives particular focus to: the consequences of changing labor markets, transformations in the organization of work and family life, changing demographics and the disproportionate poverty risk for immigrant families social and economic inequality, and recent changes in policies and programs to support working families.

Indigenous Wellness Research Institute

The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) is a University-wide, interdisciplinary institute whose vision is to support the inherent rights of Indigenous people to achieve full and complete health and wellness by collaborating in decolonizing research and knowledge building and sharing. In order to achieve this vision, the mission of IWRI is to marshal community, tribal, academic, and governmental resources toward innovative, culture-centered, interdisciplinary, collaborative social and behavioral research and education. IWRI collaborates with Indigenous people in three areas—research, tribal capacity building, and knowledge sharing. 

IWRI supports regional Indigenous communities by partnering with tribal organizations to develop research that is community-driven and responsive to needs defined by those communities. These research partnerships create unique opportunities to build tribal research capacity and technology as well as create pipeline initiatives for Indigenous youth to develop their science and research skills in the area of health disparities.

IWRI’s infrastructure is supported by a faculty and staff comprised primarily of American Indians and Alaska Natives. IWRI's two major research centers are supported by five institutional cores; community relations and development, administration, communications and media, research policy and methods, and research translation and dissemination.

Karina Walters (Choctaw), Director
William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor

IWRI’s two major research centers are:

Center for Indigenous Child Welfare and Family Wellness
      Dr. Tessa Evans-Campbell (Snohomish), Director
Center for Indigenous Health Research
      Dr. Bonnie Duran (Opelousas/Coushatta), Director

Social Development Research Group

SDRG's research seeks to promote achievement and success as well as prevent and treat health and behavior problems among young people. Drug abuse, delinquency, risky sexual behavior, violence, and school dropout are among the problems addressed. J. David Hawkins, director, and Richard F. Catalano, associate director, began in 1979 to develop the Social Development Strategy, which provides the theoretical basis for risk- and protective-focused prevention that underlies much of the group's research.

The Innovative Programs Research Group (IPRG)

An interdisciplinary applied research entity, the Innovative Programs Research Group conducts studies designed to achieve a greater knowledge of the characteristics and needs of underserved populations and assess the effectiveness of innovative means for reducing barriers to the delivery of effective social and mental health services.

Partners for Our Children

The University of Washington School of Social Work is playing a major role in an innovative public-private partnership aimed at improving Washington’s child-welfare system. Partners for our Children promotes collaboration among the University, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and the private sector to create positive change within the system, which serves 19,000 children in foster or group care.

Founded in February 2007 and led by Executive Director Mark Courtney, the partnership combines the strengths of its partners, within the state system and externally, to address the needs of Washington’s most vulnerable children and families.

Partners for Our Children is pursuing four main strategies:

  • Policy analysis and evaluation, especially aimed at discovering the effectiveness of policies and practices in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families
  • Funding the development, testing, implementation, and dissemination of promising programs and practices
  • Education and training, primarily directed at social work professionals and foster parents
  • Public affairs and communications, designed to build support for change, sustainability, and success.

Intergroup Dialogue, Education, and Action (IDEA) Training & Resource

The Intergroup Dialogue, Education and Action (IDEA) Training & Resource Institute at the University of Washington School of Social Work was started in November 1996 with funding from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) as a response to the urgent challenges for social work educators to prepare competent practitioners who can work with an increasingly diverse clientele and embrace the profession's social justice mission. These challenges call for changes not only in the content of future practitioners' knowledge, but also in classroom pedagogies that can enhance their learning experiences while developing competencies to work in a multicultural society. Intergroup dialogue--facilitated meetings of students from different social identity groups--offers an approach that can engage students in substantive, sustained and conceptually integrated learning experiences.

Intergroup dialogue is a social justice approach to dialogue. It foregrounds both societal power relations of domination- subordination, and the creative possibilities for engaging and working with and across these differences. The approach aims to move beyond seeing these differences as divisive, and to collectively generate newer ways of being powerful without perpetuating social inequalities. This approach coincides with core social work processes of empowerment--building connections with others, increasing critical consciousness about social inequalities, engendering commitments to social justice, and developing competencies to interrupt social injustices and engage in social change.

The mission of the Institute has now expanded to supporting campus and community efforts geared toward addressing issues of oppression, empowerment, and alliance building for social justice.

Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities at the University of Washington

Health Sciences Centers

Department of Global Health

Focuses on identification and evaluation of health problems and health inequities in underserved populations and the development and implementation of innovative interventions that can dramatically reduce disease burden. Programs in the Department of Global Health provide a rich educational resource, promote and support interdisciplinary research programs that address global health disparities, and provide opportunities to translate educational and research programs into improving the health of underserved populations through service activities in developing countries. Research projects and service-based activities provide excellent educational opportunities. Students and trainees enrolled in educational programs facilitate new areas of research and practice. The Department of Global Health serves as a model for integration of educational, research, and service activities, all focused on sustainable improvement of health in developing countries.

Diversity Research Institute

Seeks to create and support a community of scholars at the University of Washington and to generate new, interdisciplinary knowledge about diversity and institutional transformation. The Diversity Research Institute aims to complement diversity research at existing centers, link their efforts, and support their work. With funding from the Provost's office, the Diversity Research Institute funds a small grants program for UW faculty members and graduate students.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute

Recognizing the need to address the enormous problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse, the University of Washington established the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute in October of 1973 as an interdisciplinary research center in the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Center. From its beginning, the mission of the Institute has been to conduct and support substance abuse research a the University of Washington, and disseminate research findings in substance abuse.

The activities of the Institute may be described under three general headings:

* Intramural research by ADAI Research Scientists supported through federal, state, and other grants and contracts;

* Stimulation and support of research by ADAI Research Affiliates and faculty in departments throughout the University through a Small Grants Program. Since 1973, ADAI has awarded almost three million dollars to researchers in 40 University departments, for approximately 300 projects. Many of those funded projects led to outside funding for expanded research.

* Dissemination of research findings through its Library and Information Service, publications and presentations by ADAI scientists, web page, listservs, newsletters, and symposia.

The Institute receives financial support from the State of Washington under state Initiative 171, which mandates that a portion of fees collected for state liquor licenses be allocated to the two state research universities for research on alcohol and drug abuse, and dissemination of research information. The University of Washington provides additional funding. Research studies are funded primarily through grants and contracts awarded by federal and state agencies. and private foundations.

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute serves as a focal point for alcohol and drug abuse research at the University of Washington and in the region, benefiting the citizens of Washington State by expanding our knowledge and making information available to health and social service professionals and policy makers. The Institute's multidisciplinary staff of clinical and social psychologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, public health experts, educators, and librarians plays a key role in working to understand and reduce the harm caused by alcohol and drug abuse.

Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)

The University of Washington (UW) Center for AIDS and STD, established in July, 1989, provides patient care, research, training and education, and international assistance for HIV/AIDS and STD. The Center is administered by the UW in collaboration with several other institutions throughout the Pacific Northwest and in several other countries. The Center was designated a "World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for AIDS and STD" in 1995, the only such collaborating center in the Western Hemisphere. Approximately 120 UW and affiliated faculty participate in these programs. They include HIV/AIDS and STD specialists in internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine, dentistry, nursing, social work, public health, pharmacy, microbiology, and pathology. The Center for AIDS and STD is funded by several federal agencies, and by the UW to coordinate all UW AIDS and STD related programs.

Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD)

Developmental disabilities and related disabilities can affect people's lives in profound ways throughout the lifespan. A developmental disability may interfere with self care, language, learning, mobility, capacity for independent living, and ability to work. Family relationships, friendships and community life can be affected.

Range of activities
CHDD is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive interdisciplinary research and training centers focusing on a wide array of developmental disabilities. More than 600 University of Washington faculty and staff members, as well as numerous doctoral and post-doctoral students, provide clinical services, interdisciplinary clinical and research training, and technical assistance and outreach training to community practitioners and community agencies. CHDD scientists and clinicians also conduct basic and applied research to generate new knowledge and disseminate information widely.
Two major programs
CHDD is one of the few centers in the country that encompasses two major programs, one focusing on research and the other on clinical services, training and community outreach. This structure encourages strong connections between researchers and clinicians, and creates an important bridge between basic research and state-of-the-art clinical programs.

The University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

UCEDD is part of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), established in every state to train professionals within an interdisciplinary framework to meet the needs of people with disabilities, provide clinical services and model projects, reach out to the community with technical assistance and training, conduct applied research, and disseminate information widely. These university-based centers were formerly known as University Affiliated Programs (UAPs).

Center for Disability Policy and Research (CDPR)

The mission of the Center for Disability Policy and Research is to shape disability policy and service delivery through the following means:

  • Conduct policy analyses of health and human services designed to prevent and minimize impact of disabling conditions, integrate and coordinate existing services, and assure access to high quality health services for people with disabilities.
  • Conduct research on the disablement process and disabling conditions, the health needs of people with disabilities, the personal, and the delivery of health and human services to people with disabilities and their families.
  • Improve surveillance of primary and secondary factors contributing to the progression of chronic disease and injury.
  • Train practitioners, administrators, and policy-makers in disability policy and research.
  • Disseminate information concerning important disability policy and research issues.

Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC)

Founded in 1985, the HIPRC has become one of the premier institutions researching how and why people suffer injuries and what can be done to prevent them.

The problems we tackle at the HIPRC are those we see in the emergency department, the intensive care unit, the ward and the autopsy suite. As one of the premier injury-control centers in the United States, we are dedicated to lessening the impact of injury on families here in the Northwest and across the nation. Furthermore, we aim to prevent these injuries altogether.

Health Promotion Research Center

The Health Promotion Research Center, located at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, is one of 28 dedicated Prevention Research Centers in the United States. These centers are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through their Prevention Research Center Program. HPRC is one of two centers whose focus is on healthy aging.

The central theme of the Health Promotion Research Center is "keeping older adults healthy and independent." First funded in 1986 as the Center for Health Promotion in Older Adults, the center's name was changed to Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center in 1996 to reflect a life-span approach to prevention. In June 2000, the advisory board voted to change the name to Health Promotion Research Center for greater name understanding. Key faculty investigators from the University of Washington have expertise in developing interventions to reduce chronic disability in seniors. Partners of the center include agencies committed to promoting health and quality of life for older populations.

AIDS Prevention Trials Unit (ACTU)

The University of Washington Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Unit's mission is to:

  • Conduct clinical research in order to answer questions about how HIV works and affects the immune system
  • Study the natural history of HIV/AIDS and its associated complications over time
  • Help develop new treatments for HIV/AIDS
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of treatments already available for both short term and long term use
  • Educate communities in the Northwest about the need for clinical trials in all populations
  • Provide equal access to all those who wish to participate, including minorities, women and injection drug users


Centers at the School of Nursing

Center for Women's Health and Gender Research

The Center for Women's Health Research's primary goals are to facilitate basic and clinical interdisciplinary research related to women's health across the lifespan, increase the knowledge base of women's health, disseminate scientific knowledge, and promote development of research skills and opportunity for scholarship about women's health among faculty, research staff, and predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees.

Center on Infant Mental Health & Development

The mission of the Center on Infant Mental Health and Development is to promote interdisciplinary research and training related to the social and emotional aspects of development for young children during their formative years.

Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Program

The prevention projects of the multi-faceted Reconnecting Youth Prevention Research Program involve partnerships between school personnel, youth, and parents. They focus on the following: Testing school-based models for preventing drug abuse, school dropout, depression, and suicide behaviors among high-risk youth; and the effect of psychosocial risk and protective factors on adolescent development within family, friendship, and school contexts.
All participants benefit by advancing knowledge of school-based interventions that work to enhance those factors linked with decreases of high-risk behavior and increases in school success.

University of Washington Central Campus Centers for Research

Center for Social Science Computation and Research

The Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) is a computer resource center providing facilities and support for social science departments at the University of Washington. CSSCR facilities are restricted to use by students, faculty, and staff of the University of Washington.

Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences (CSSS)

The Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences started in 1999, with funding from the University Initiatives Fund. It is the first center in the nation devoted to this interface, with the triple mission of galvanizing collaborative research between social scientists and statisticians, developing a menu of new graduate courses for social science students, and putting together an innovative case-based undergraduate statistics sequence for the social sciences.

Research collaboration is fostered in a variety of ways, through seminars, seed grants, the consulting program, the working papers series, and the collaborative work of our core faculty. Our dynamic Seminar series meets on Wednesdays at 12:30pm in Savery 209 and is run by CSSS Seminar Director Katherine Stovel. This features a great deal of interaction and discussion, and is highly interdisciplinary in terms of both speakers and audience.

Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

The Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, founded in 1947, supports education, research and scholarly exchange in population studies at the University of Washington. We focus on interdisciplinary research, with an emphasis on understanding the structural mechanisms that link individual behavior to population level outcomes. An independent unit on campus since 2000, our affiliates and students come from the departments of Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Sociology and Statistics, and the schools of International Studies, Public Affairs, Public Health and Social Work. Population scientists from the Battelle Institute's Center for Public Health Research and Evaluation (Seattle) and Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA) also participate in Center activities.

Our affiliates are known for their research on biodemography, health, international demography, migration, inequality, family demography, and quantitative methodology. Descriptions of the active research projects at the Center can be found under Current Research Projects.

The Center provides research support services and educational opportunities to its members through its: graduate student, postdoctoral and mid-career professional training; computer lab and services; library collection and services; working paper series; and weekly research seminar.

Biodemography Laboratory

(within CSDE) Conducts population level research in human ecology and biodemography. Faculty researchers specialize in developing, optimizing, and carrying out hormone assays for large-scale research projects. A central focus of the lab is optimizing the collection, storage and analysis of urine, saliva and blood samples for research undertaken in (often remote) field settings. The goals are to facilitate new areas of research in biodemography and human ecology, and to enable population level research to be undertaken in a cost effective and reliable manner. The researchers merge methods and theory from biology, demography, and anthropology to foster a more detailed understanding of the biological and cultural factors affecting human ecology, especially in natural (non-clinical) and non-Western settings.

Comparative Law and Society Studies Center

The Comparative Law and Society Studies Center at the University of Washington is committed to promoting interdisciplinary research and teaching as well as community service regarding law, justice, and human rights throughout the world.

At its core CLASS is constituted by an intellectual community of faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students dedicated to cutting-edge socio-legal inquiry. This community is structured around four primary types of endeavor: (1) individual and collaborative academic research; (2) an interdisciplinary Graduate Fellows program; 3) the undergraduate Law, Societies, and Justice program; and 4) community outreach and service.

Human Rights Education and Research Network

The Human Rights Education and Research Network promotes the integration of human rights scholarship and teaching at the University's three campuses (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma) by generating leading research, by developing new pathways of learning for students, and by relating this work to the world of practice. This non-partisan organization will provide intellectual, institutional, and financial support for researchers and teachers at all levels of theory and practice to further their work in the emerging field of human rights.

The Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Group

The Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Group at the University of Washington (IQRG) is a newly formed cooperating site of the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM), based at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada. Its purpose is to facilitate the production of sound interpretive research including qualitative, and ethnographic methods, as well as narrative and discourse analysis. The IQRG encourages and supports interdisciplinary exchange about qualitative research across the UW campus and in the community.

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) is a nonprofit organization that promotes health (broadly defined) through partnerships between communities and higher educational institutions. Founded in 1996, we are a growing network of over 1,600 communities and campuses across North America and increasingly the world that are collaborating to promote health through service-learning, community-based participatory research, broad-based coalitions and other partnership strategies. These partnerships are powerful tools for improving higher education, civic engagement and the overall health of communities.