What is the Grand Challenges for Social Work?

The Grand Challenges for Social Work is a groundbreaking project to champion social progress powered by science, initiated by the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare in 2016.

We’ve identified 13 Grand Challenges for Social Work—a call to action for social work researchers and practitioners to harness social work’s science and knowledge base, collaborate with professionals from related fields and disciplines, and work together to tackle our toughest social problems.

Join us.

Why join the Grand Challenges for Social Work?

We need you!

Everyone—in social work and in related fields—has a role in promoting individual and family well-being, a stronger social fabric, and a more just society.
 During the past century, social work interventions have helped lower infant mortality, lift millions out of poverty, and assist people with mental illness through de-institutionalization, aftercare, counseling, and advocacy.

The Grand Challenges for Social Work build on social work’s rich history.
 Today’s urgent, interrelated, and large-scale challenges—violence, substance abuse, environmental degradation, injustice, isolation, and inequality—require research, innovation, and leadership more than ever. Building new knowledge and connecting it to practice and policy are critical to driving real, lasting, and transformative social change.

Learn more about how to get involved.

What are the 13 Grand Challenges for Social Work?

There are 13 Grand Challenges that fall under three main areas: improving individual and family well-being, building a stronger social fabric, and creating a just society. For more information about each Grand Challenge, visit the individual pages on this site.

How do I participate in the Grand Challenges for Social Work?

There are a variety of ways to join in this important effort, get up to speed about the different Grand Challenges, and create Grand Challenges activities on your campus or through your organization. Learn more about how to participate.

Are there working groups for each Grand Challenge?

Yes! There is at least one workgroup for each of the 13 Grand Challenges. Visit each challenge’s page for the list of Network Leaders and their contact information.

How can I connect with others working on the Grand Challenges?

The best way to stay up to date is by joining our mailing list; sharing with others on social media, using the #Up4theChallenge hashtag; following the GCSW on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; and joining the Grand Challenges Facebook group. Individual Grand Challenges groups also sponsor activities and have their own networks. Some of the networks also use Prof2Prof to share resources and work together.

Can I contribute to more than one Challenge?

Definitely! We hope the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative and the work that flows out of each Grand Challenge effort will provide a variety of ways for researchers, practitioners, students and people in many related fields to participate. Many of the Challenges are deeply inter-related, so it is likely that more than one Challenge will be of interest to you.

What is GCSW’s policy on making public statements on critical current events?

The Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW), an initiative launched in collaboration with the Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare in 2016, stands firmly behind its Vision and Guiding Principles embracing social justice, inclusiveness, diversity, and equity. The initiative aims to create a more positive future for our society by promoting culturally relevant, attainable, generative, multidisciplinary, scientifically sound, and sustainable efforts to address the Grand Challenges of our society, especially those that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in our society. Our efforts to address the Grand Challenges recognize and respect the power of communities and their strengths, including resistance, resilience, and resurgence of healthful practices that generate community and familial well-being and survival.

As a national network, rather than a traditional organization, the Grand Challenges will not make public statements or take advocacy stances on critical events that occur. The individual networks for each of the Grand Challenges are encouraged to lead the charge, in whatever way they see fit, to address our society’s most persistent issues, including the pressing crises and challenges that arise in our day-to-day lives.

We look to the co-leads of our networks as they respond to the daily challenges of our society. The GCSW, as an initiative, provides a platform and framework to amplify and promote the work of these leaders and the networks endeavoring to help fulfill their strategic initiatives. To learn more about the response of our networks, we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media, and to reach out to the co-leads of the networks directly.

The Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative is a network for all. Everyone—in social work and in related fields—has a role. Our success depends on you. Learn how you can be involved.

Grand Challenges for Social Work Invites You to Go•Grander!