MAY 15, 2014
Alberto Godenzi, Dean of Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, spoke with Boston College Chronicle editor Sean Smith about the school's mission and projects, recent changes in the social work field, and some surprising facts about BC Social Work.
What do you see as GSSW's mission, both as an institution in its own right and as a part of Boston College?
Whatever schools of social work do always has to have meaning for the lives of real people and communities, especially those at the margins. The unique identity and value proposition of the GSSW flows from BC's Jesuit, Catholic mission. The tenets of Catholic social teaching and the Jesuit Social Apostolate widely correspond with the ethics code of the social work profession. All three frameworks emphasize principles such as solidarity, justice education, and empowerment.
What do you see as the most significant changes in the social work field over the past few decades?
Social work has always dealt with intractable problems, i.e. challenges that have no easy solutions and may in fact never be entirely resolved. Think of poverty, hunger or inequality. In order to address such complex issues, you have to have a long-term perspective. Real change may take decades, if not centuries. But people often expect immediate results and have zero tolerance for failure. Social work has therefore moved towards a more evidence-based approach. Our actions are increasingly guided by scientific evidence rather than good intentions. The shift towards a stronger link between research, policy, and practice may well be the most significant change in our field.
GSSW has become increasingly active in areas such as global practice, immigration, and aging. Why are these issues important to the school and the social work field?
Globalization, human migration, and longevity are key challenges of the 21st century. Our faculty, therefore, choose to focus on these areas, in addition to more traditional fields such as child welfare, health, or mental health. Our students have a leg up in the job market because they acquired the skills to work effectively with immigrants, refugees, and the elderly. They learn about the effects of globalization on almost every facet of their practice, whether or not they ever leave the Boston neighborhoods. Read the full interview in the Boston College Chronicle »