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U.S. schools of social work strengthen global partnerships

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

More than 200 million Chinese workers migrated from rural plantations to urban labor markets between 2000 and 2010, and the surge in economic growth has resulted in hardships for millions of people in the country.

The Chinese government is depending on the social work profession to address these increasing social challenges by bolstering the country’s number of social workers from 200,000 to between 2 million and 3 million by 2020.

Many U.S. schools of social work, through their global education efforts, are collaborating with Chinese leaders and educators to strengthen the country’s social work education and practice capacity. At the same time, U.S. educators say the shared opportunity allows new insight into improving social work efforts in the U.S.

Silver School of Social Work

One example is the Silver School of Social Work at New York University in New York City.

Lynn Videka, dean of the Silver School of Social Work, said NYU hosts major initiatives to transform the university into a global network.

One of its latest projects is partnering with the School of Social Development at East China Normal University to create an institute that will train and study social science and social work research that supports social policy, practice and prominent academic programs that are locally and globally relevant.

An essential mission of the institute is to address the poverty and inequality issues experienced in China and the U.S.

“I am taking the approach of building programs that have a strong core rooted in the global network university infrastructure of New York University,” Videka said.

“Individual faculty research projects and initiatives can be the ‘flowers’ on the branches that emanate from the strong program roots,” she said, noting that NYU is in the process of building a portal campus in Shanghai.

Videka said social work students with an interest in international social work do not particularly need to leave the U.S. to be part of a group that helps other cultures.

With student field placements, NYU works with the United Nations and other international organizations in the area to promote social work involvement with diverse cultures in the U.S., she said.

From the September 2013 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.

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