• Portia Dumbu
The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, recognises that, people’s health and wellbeing suffer due to inequalities and unsustainable environments, which constitute a major social justice issue for social work educators, scholars, and professionals. However, given that, the focus of social work education in England is founded on social justice and human rights, and yet, has been identified as being highly driven by neo-liberalism and managerialism, as contrary to the ideals of social work values, this study seeks to find the barriers and opportunities that exist with regards to the inclusion of green social work in social work curricula. It also seeks to explore the views of social work educators and students at an English university on green social work, and based on the principles of social justice, examine whether environmental justice can form part of the basis of social work education in England.
The study employed a qualitative research framework, informed by a case study of one English university that delivers qualifying social work education. An interview guide was designed based on the objectives and relevant scope backed by the significance of the study. Transcripts from the interviews were processed through a thematic analysis. Neo-liberal policies, privatisation, individualised practice, and the standard guidelines for education and practice, were identified to be some of the existing systematic barriers that prevent the integration of issues regarding environmental justice and sustainability into social work education in England. The study also indicated that the awareness level among students and educators in the participating university is low and was attributed to the focus and trend of social work education and practice in England, which is mostly focused on child protection and adult safeguarding. However, all participants expressed the need for the representation of green social work in the social work curriculum to help broaden the understanding of students and equip them with the knowledge on how to positively contribute to physical and natural environmental issues that affect service users.
The study concluded that, although the context situation is an important factor to be considered in this discussion, it is necessary for Social Work England to start broadening the concept of ‘environment’ in its social work education and practice to include issues of environmental justice and sustainability. This is because, the impacts of climate change and environmental crisis adversely affect the wellbeing of vulnerable groups locally and globally, to ensure an inclusive social justice-based practice.
Publication date21 Jun 2021
Number of pages130
ID: 415334267