Strategic Directions 2019–2024

Improving the Lives People Live

Here we present our vision, our priorities, and our future directions distilled from our strategic planning process, which included an examination of the external environment and trends affecting schools of social work; an internal assessment; and outreach to students, faculty, alumni, staff, University administrators, and leaders in the field.

Our Vision

BCSSW endeavors to improve vulnerable lives through pioneering social work education, research, scholarship, and practice at home and in the world.

Header photo: Mark Katzman

At BCSSW, we are drawing on the foundations of the profession and others to prepare students for social work practice and research to advance the common good. Our faculty is intentional in training MSW students and doctoral scholars to focus on people facing compound needs. We are innovating in research and practice in collaboration with relevant disciplines and professions, social work practice partners, and communities. These networks leverage the strength of diverse fields and draw on the perspectives of communities who are experiencing the social problems of concern to us in Boston and around the globe.
Gautam N. Yadama, Professor and Dean of Boston College School of Social Work

Five-year Goals

In the next five years, BCSSW will commit knowledge and resources to:

  • Prepare social work students and practitioners to be innovative and effective in responding to challenges and opportunities in a diverse and ever-changing world;
  • Create vibrant exchanges, identify social problems and emerging trends, and stimulate translational research and scholarship that informs practice interventions; and
  • Generate a deeper understanding of, and robust solutions to, complex social problems.
Solution-Focused Therapy workshop designed for Latinx communities

Our Path Forward

BCSSW is pursuing strategies to reimagine social work education and training; to develop partnerships in research and practice; and to draw upon and work across disciplines. Our school will focus on five interrelated and reinforcing strategic areas:

  1. Social Work Education
  2. Equity, Justice, and Inclusion
  3. Interventions with Diverse Populations
  4. Global Social Work Practice
  5. Innovations in Practice and Research
CBSD workshop in Rwanda

Our Strategic Areas

Social Work Education

We will work to ensure that our curriculum is competitive, relevant, and distinct, and prepares students and practitioners with the tools they need for clinical and macro practice in all communities. We are committed to training students who apply systems thinking to adapt and implement clinical and macro interventions for better lives and social progress.

Key initiatives:

  • Examine structures of concentrations and certificate programs and explore new models of delivery for core courses in the MSW program
  • Develop coursework at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and certificates at the graduate level with other schools at Boston College
  • Continue to develop programming for student formation
  • Build capacity of students to use new concepts, tools, and methods from systems science and design thinking for better practice and sound research

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Equity, Justice, and Inclusion

We will expand our pioneering work to train leaders who develop policies, practices, and interventions that advance equity, justice, and inclusion across the University and in diverse communities. At the school, we will continue to build a caring, respectful, and inclusive community that prospers and flourishes because of diversity.

Key initiatives:

  • Conduct an assessment of BCSSW’s implicit and explicit curricula with regard to equity, justice, and inclusion
  • Create trainings and events for the BCSSW community
  • Increase the investment in the Latinx Leadership Initiative
  • Create certificate programs in leadership for diversity and inclusion in organizations
  • Design and implement studies about equity, justice, and inclusion to understand the experiences of inclusion/marginalization of underrepresented groups at the workplace and the steps that organizations are taking to address issues related to equity, justice, and inclusion

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Interventions with Diverse Populations

We will tailor and offer evidence-based clinical and policy interventions to diverse populations. Over time, we will strengthen existing partnerships and develop new alliances with communities, government agencies, NGOs, and for-profit organizations to develop, adapt, and implement evidence-based interventions and to build and disseminate research expertise and knowledge.

Key initiatives:

  • Continue and expand family-strengthening interventions with diverse populations
  • Lay the groundwork for new interventions, including clinical and behavioral interventions for diverse populations
  • Create resources for diverse populations, such as solution-focused therapy videos in Spanish for Latinx communities
  • Create a database for the systematic review of evidence-based clinical interventions
  • Hire faculty and post-doctoral fellows with expertise in clinical and behavioral interventions with diverse populations

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Global Social Work Practice

We will expand current work in clinical and behavioral interventions in low- and middle-income countries with a particular emphasis on children, youth, and women in conflict and crises. We will also deepen our commitment to sustainable development and address the impact of poverty and exclusion on social, health, environmental, and gender inequities.

Key initiatives:

  • Establish a Global and Local Sustainable Development Hub at BCSSW to track, train, and impact health and social development at the global level, including facilitating direct interactions between BCSSW’s faculty and students and its global partners
  • Strengthen our collaborations and relationships with Catholic Relief Services, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and UNICEF
  • Hold a Global Migration Conference
  • Continue research at the intersection of energy, environment, and health on rural poor in India in partnership with the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society
  • Develop a mid-career program in global humanitarian practice
  • Adapt, test, and scale evidence-based interventions with children and families facing acute disruptions around the world

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Innovations in Practice and Research

We will build a platform of innovative practices and approaches to help improve life in diverse and vulnerable communities in Boston and abroad. We will strategically strengthen our capability in novel problem-solving and engage in inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to adapt, test, and scale evidence-based interventions to address pressing complex social problems.

Key initiatives:

  • Build and leverage our expertise and capacity in systems science, implementation science, data science, and design thinking to adapt, test, and scale evidence-based interventions with communities and practice partners
  • Broaden the scope of the Center for Social Innovation and strengthen its focus to address complex social challenges through  innovative problem-solving approaches and interdisciplinary collaborations with practitioners and communities
  • Contribute to and partner with the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society in curricular and research innovations addressing complex social challenges
  • Create response processes that address evolving needs of practitioners and community organizations

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Vision Impact Graph for the School of Social Work

Acknowledgments

BCSSW would like to thank the members of our community who contributed to the development of this strategic plan.