Article

Ecological Social Work

Uschi Bay

in Encyclopedia of Social Work

Published by NASW Press and Oxford University Press


Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199975839 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.1166

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  • Practical Ethics
  • Human Behaviour and the Social Environment
  • International and Global Issues in Social Work
  • Social Policy and Advocacy
  • Race and Ethnicity

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Ecological social work requires a shift in thinking for social workers because it does not place humans at the center of its concerns. Rather ecological social work puts the interrelationship between humans and nature at its center. This radically de-centered view of humanity aims to bring consideration of the planet and all of its environmental systems into decision making to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for the long term. Ecological principles can guide social work practice, research, and education in ways that promote a transition to sustainable practices in every sphere of life. Widespread ecological consciousness is advocated as an important focus for change by some social work authors promoting this approach. A global consciousness is understood to enable humanity’s capacity to deal with the growing concerns about the survival of planet earth as a suitable habitat for humans, animals, and plants. Humanity’s activities are understood to contribute to the ongoing degradation of fresh water, fertile soils, and pollution of the atmosphere. Drastic changes in the way humans behave and relate to the earth are considered necessary at the global, national, and local levels. Social workers are thus called on to engage with others in taking on significant roles in many areas of practice to facilitate these crucial societal transformations.

Keywords: ecological social work; sustainable development; ecofeminism; climate change; food movements; deep ecology

Article.  7255 words. 

Subjects: Practical Ethics ; Human Behaviour and the Social Environment ; International and Global Issues in Social Work ; Social Policy and Advocacy ; Race and Ethnicity

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