12 Grand Challenges Advancing Faster than I Knew

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Yesterday I published my assessment of how the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work is evolving into something very special and I encouraged readers to view the January 30th webinar featuring one of the 12 networks, Building Financial Capability and Assets for All which I stated was the first webinar showcasing the work of the 12 networks. Much to my chagrin I have discovered that it is not the first but the second webinar showcasing the work of a 12 Grand Challenges network. The first webinar was presented in October 2016 focused on the challenge to Ensure Healthy Development For All Youth By Unleashing The Power Of Prevention and was held at the University of Washington in Seattle. This too was a very informative webinar on the synergy being created by bringing researchers, academics, practitioners and other stakeholders together to focus on an area of social concern.

As I stated in yesterday’s blog, I am a recent addition to the Grand Challenges Executive Committee(GCEC). Making this error is not the best way to get started. I am honored to be included with such distinguished and accomplished individuals and I do not want them to believe it was a mistake to bring me to the table. I say that in jest of course. The deans, scholars and others on the GCEC are super achievers and they are wonderful people. They sacrifice their time and energy to this cause without compensation. I am thrilled to be working with them.

Dean Edwina Uehara

I have read articles and books by these brilliant women and men but met some of them for the first time at the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) conference in New Orleans last month. Among them was Dr. Edwina Uehara, professor and Ballmer Endowed Dean at the University of Washington School of Social Work. I was immediately impressed by her exuberance and warmth. She was among the small group who met at the IslandWood Conference Center on Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington in August, 2012, to contemplate the role of social work in the 21st century. The 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative emerged from these talks.

Dean Uehara is a co-chair of the GCEC, along with University of Southern California Dean Marilyn Flynn and Dr. Michael Sherraden, George Warren Brown Distinguished Professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis where he also directs the Center for Social Development. Needless to say our work in the profession has taken on a new level of urgency brought on by recent political developments in our nation. Many of our citizens are struggling to find adequate and meaningful employment. Many desperately need the Affordable Care Act and worry about its future. Far too many are facing retirement without the minimum resources they will need. These are among the many grand challenge we must tackle.

The 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work is one initiative that is greatly needed to help move society in the right direction. So without much fanfare, I give my mea culpa and urge everyone to take a look at both webinars. But just not look at them, consider becoming a part of this grand enterprise. If you are a researcher, consider lodging your work in one of the networks. If you are a student, think about how you might be an effective advocate. This work will continue to grow and evolve.

While we are on the subject of webinars, I would like to bring your attention to a webinar that will be presented by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Learning Academy on March 21st at 12:00 noon (EDT) entitled: How should social work education respond to the changing political landscape? Faculty and students can register at no cost and get more information on the the CSWE Learning Academy website.

Written By Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D

12 Grand Challenges Advancing Faster than I Knew was originally published @ Charles Lewis – Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy and has been syndicated with permission.

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