A Vision for Tomorrow

Members from the BC Social Work community have contributed widely to the Grand Challenges, including to the following concept papers.

Challenges ChartEradicate Social Isolation
Social Isolation Presents a Grand Challenge for Social Work, from James Lubben, Melanie Gironda, Erika Sabbath, Jooyoung Kong, and Carrie Johnson.

Abstract: Solid epidemiological evidence links social isolation to health. Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Institutes of Health have affirmed the importance of addressing social isolation. The AARP also has recently adopted social isolation as one of its top five new initiatives. Working in tandem with other key professions, social work possesses the expertise to greatly reduce the risk and consequences of social isolation. The “social” element of social work is the key for solving the grand challenge of reducing the risk of social isolation and strengthening social ties among all populations.


Harness Technology for Social Good
Harnessing the Digital Age: Practice Innovation through Technology a Grand Challenge for Social Work, from Stephanie Berzin, Jonathan Singer, and Chitat Chan (under consideration).

Draft abstract: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is transformational. . . . While the possibility for practice innovation using digital technologies has been documented (see Barak & Grohol, 2011), social work practitioners and scholars remain hesitant to drive this movement . . . .The grand challenge for social work becomes to harness technological advancements and leverage digital advances for social good. Accepting this challenge will result in more accurate, timely, and targeted services. Traditional consumers of social services will benefit from improved assessment, intervention, and real-time feedback. Social services will be available to people who have traditionally been excluded due to functional barriers such as geography, transportation, and scheduling. Society will benefit from having the broad reach of social work enhanced by innovative integration of technology.


Promote Equal Opportunity and Justice for All
Leveraging Latino Immigrant Assets, from Rocío Calvo, Larry Ortiz, Westy Egmont, Robert Rosales, Victor Figuereo, Manuel Cano, and Patricia Villa (under consideration).

Draft abstract: Now an integral part of the American fabric, Latinos represent the fastest growing population in the United States. While the Latino immigrant community constitutes a vibrant and enriching presence, it also faces significant challenges that preclude its full participation in American society. Traditional approaches to the incorporation of Latino immigrants have often focused on what Latinos lack, relative to the prevailing non-Latino white majoritarian culture.

We instead focus on what Latinos bring with them, namely their cultural capital, and we examine how social workers can leverage these assets to assist Latinos in leading their own positive integration into American life.

Increasing Success for African American Children and Youth, from Martell Teasley, Ruth McRoy, Mit Joyner, Marilyn Armour, Ruby Gourdine, Sandra Crewe, Michael Kelly, Cynthia Franklin, Macheo Payne, John L. Jackson, Jr.,and Rowena Fong (under consideration).

Draft abstract: African American students’ disproportionately low high school graduation rate is a major barrier to their personal and professional success. Suspensions (too often caused by over-strict policies combined with racial bias or cultural misunderstandings) remove too many African American students from school and increase their chances of falling behind, dropping out, and even going to jail. Evidence-based approaches to reducing the harshness of school discipline can create safer educational environments for all children and ensure African American students achieve at higher levels.


Advance Long and Productive Lives
Increasing Productive Engagement in Later Life, from Nancy Morrow-Howell, Ernest Gonzales, Christina Matz-Costa, and Emily A. Greenfield.
Abstract: Population aging is among the most profound transformations in all of human history. Life expectancy has more than tripled, with most of that extension coming in the last century (Finch, 2010). This demographic shift is very rapid—indeed, a demographic revolution. In the United States, the number of people over the age of 65 will double between 2000 and 2030, with the number of people over 85 growing the fastest (Administration on Aging, 2013). This demographic revolution presents many grand challenges. This paper highlights the challenge of reshaping social expectations, institutions, policies, and programs to engage the growing human capital of the older population to meet the demands posed by an aging society.

* Authors in bold are from Boston College.

Learn more about James Lubben’s role in “Taking Up the Challenges.”