Skip to main content
Boston College School of Social Work

Office: McGuinn Hall 321
Phone: 617-552-1366
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Areas of Expertise

James Lubben

James Lubben

Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor, Older Adults & Families and Global Practice
Program Director, PhD in Social Welfare
Director, Institute on Aging

James Lubben, PhD, is the inaugural holder of the Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor in Social Work at Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW). Dr. Lubben is also Professor Emeritus at UCLA where he taught for 20 years and was Associate Dean and Chair of the Department of Social Welfare. He recently concluded his term of service on three national boards for social work education: Society for Social Work and Research, Council on Social Work Education, and the Group to Advance Doctoral Education. Dr. Lubben is also on the Executive Committee for the Grand Challenges in Social Work Initiative sponsored by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Dr. Lubben has actively promoted the development of social work and social welfare by serving as principal investigator or collaborator on over $35 million of research and training grants.  

Additionally, Dr. Lubben has offered consultation to the World Health Organization regarding health and welfare systems development for aging societies. He served four terms (12 years) on the congressionally mandated Gerontology and Geriatrics Advisory Committee for the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Lubben was Founding Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation’s Doctoral Fellows Program in Geriatric Social Work which provided dissertation grants to over 100 social work doctoral students throughout the United States. More recently, he received a $900,000 grant from the Santander Foundation to establish an International PhD in Social Welfare at Boston College in partnership with three Latin American universities. He is presently co-investigator on a Boston Roybal Center for Active Lifestyles in Aging pilot project, which is funded by the National Institute on Aging ($1.5 million).

Dr. Lubben is the founding director of the Institute on Aging at Boston College. His research considers social isolation as a behavioral health risk among older adults. To carry out this research, he developed the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS), an abbreviated measure designed for both research and clinical use among older populations.  He is co-editor (along with Rowena Fong and Richard P.Barth) of a forthcoming book by Oxford University Press entitled Grand Challenges for social work and society: Social progress powered by science. 

Dr. Lubben received a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Public Health from Berkeley. His doctorate is also from Berkeley. Dr. Lubben has also received an honorary doctor of humane letters from his undergraduate alma mater, Wartburg College (Iowa). He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He is also a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and received the Leadership Award and Career Achievement Award from the Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work. 

Read more about Dr. Lubben's interview with PBS’s website for older adults Next Avenue »

Hear Dr. Lubben talk about his background and teaching philosophy in 'I'm a Dreamer' »

Watch a video of Dr. Lubben discussing Social Isolation in BC Talks Aging »

Read more about James Lubben's work to establish the International PhD program at Boston College »

Read about the recognition the International PhD program has received in its second year »