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Dec
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Human Centered Design... Change Agents for People

Mer AusConfMeredith C.F. Powers, COSW PhD Candidate and Green Initiative Project Coordinator, is on a mission to prove that social workers and environmentalists can be one and the same. Recently, her passion inspired a trip to Melbourne, Australia, to present at the 2014 CSWE Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education, and Social Development. Meredith is pictured here with her former UNC professor Dee Gamble who publishes and presents on issues of sustainability and social work. Meredith's presentation, entitled “Making a Big Impact with a Small Footprint: Infusing Ecological Consciousness into the College of Social Work,” focused on the social and ecological injustices in the world, how social workers are already equipped to alleviate these problems, and how the College of Social Work at USC is responding to these environmental concerns.



“Since the emergence of social work as a profession, social workers have addressed environmental concerns,” explains Powers. Historically, social workers first concentrated their efforts on the people living and working in awful environmental circumstances, as well as those people who had few to no community resources (e.g., community sanitation, parks). Over the years, the social work field has shifted more toward the “social, economic, and political environments” and away from addressing issues related to the physical environment.

Powers believes it is necessary for social workers to once again address all of these environments. By exploring the physical environment, social workers will gain an understanding of the ways ecological issues can negatively impact the lives of people, and how people impact their environment. As she explains in her presentation, “human and environmental well-being are inextricably linked, continually reinforcing and reshaping each other as time goes on.”     

Meredith Powers’ current focus with the Green Initiative at the COSW is to green the curriculum by “getting this information into the hands of social work instructors, including field instructors (who are themselves social work practitioners) and getting them thinking about the connections of social and ecological justice and how it can be addressed in any social work context.” Powers has created a course flyer for field instructors. She believes, “It is important to infuse ecological consciousness into any social work setting, and into what social workers are already doing, not just relegate it to a specialty field.”

For more information about the Green Initiative at the COSW, contact Meredith Powers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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