Grand Challenges for Social Work and Society has just been published by Oxford University Press. Professor James E. Lubben is co-editor, and seven other colleagues from Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW) crafted position papers on multiple Grand Challenges ranging from advancing productive lives and reducing social isolation to harnessing technology for social good and achieving equal opportunity and social justice.
The Grand Challenges for Social Work highlight important societal dilemmas that demand innovation and the creation of new knowledge networks. To lead research, scholarship, teaching, and practice around these challenges, social work scholars must bring together relevant disciplines and professions, social work practice partners, and communities. Such knowledge networks leverage the strength of a diversity of fields and draw on the lived experience of communities and populations embedded in the problems of concern to us.
At BCSSW, the newly launched Grants & Research IniTiative (GRIT) seminars are helping build knowledge and collaborations between scholars and researchers in low and middle income countries and colleagues here in the United States on mental health issues. GRIT is disseminating research expertise and expanding the network of scholars joined in a common purpose to improve mental health around the globe.
We are also innovating in extending the traditional classroom out into the world and providing students a chance to struggle with the complexity of real world challenges. Together with the School of Management and in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, we designed a cross-disciplinary course, Innovations in Global Practice: Solar Entrepreneurship in Rural India. The purpose of this independent study is to deploy students in collaborative learning environments with organizations working on supplying solar products for the rural poor in India.
To prepare our students to address intractable and entrenched social problems, we need to embed our classrooms in relevant knowledge communities. To address the Grand Challenges for Social Work, our profession must imagine new communities of knowledge and practice. Only in democratizing and extending the reach of our research and interventions will social work lead in addressing the complex social problems of our day.