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.

The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare launched the Grand Challenges for Social Work in 2016 to galvanize social work expertise, education, research and practice. 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. 

In July 2020, the AASWSW added a 13th grand challenge, Eliminate Racism, during a pivotal moment when the nation and the world's attention is focused on racial injustice against Black people. UW School of Social Work Presidential Term Professor Michael Spencer co-chairs this new grand challenge

Additional School of Social Work faculty are taking the lead of several grand challenges, including Close the Health Gap, Harness Technology for Social Good, Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality, Ensure Healthy Development for All Youth, and Create Social Responses to a Changing Environment. 

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.