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 12 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.

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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 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work?

There are 12 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 12 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.

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