The Grand Challenges for Social Work, the flagship program of the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW), is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. It’s a call to action for social work researchers and practitioners to:

  • Harness social work’s science and knowledge base;
  • Collaborate with individuals, community-based organizations, and professionals from all fields and disciplines; and
  • Work together to tackle some of our toughest social problems.

An urgent appeal for needed change
For more than a century, social workers have been transforming our society. Social work interventions doubled the number of babies who survived in the early twentieth century, helped millions out of poverty from the Great Depression to today, and assisted people with mental illness through de-institutionalization, aftercare, treatment, and advocacy.

Today our society faces serious, interrelated, and large-scale challenges—violence, substance abuse, environmental degradation, injustice, isolation, and inequality. We need social workers’ unique blend of scientific knowledge and caring practice more than ever.

Together, the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work define a far-reaching social agenda, promoting:

  • Individual and family well-being,
  • A stronger social fabric, and
  • A just society that fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and offers pathways for social and economic progress.

Why a Grand Challenges initiative?
Grand Challenges have been used for more than a century to address significant societal issues. Explore the history of Grand Challenges, learn how the AASWSW developed the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work, and meet the leaders of the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative.

We need you
The Grand Challenges for Social Work are for you, about you, and won’t succeed without you. Everyone—in social work and in related fields—has a role. Everyone in social work—students, researchers, practitioners, faculty members and universities–can take part. Our success depends on you.

Grand Challenges
The initial papers that set the stage for the Grand Challenges initiative:

Social Is Fundamental: Introduction and Context for Grand Challenges for Social WorkGrand Accomplishments in Social WorkIdentifying and Tackling Grand Challenges for Social Work

Oct24_GC ImpactModel Statement and Model-REV_Page_1Pages from JSSWR Invited Manuscript- Grand Challenges for Social Work.pdf

Additional Publications:

Yolanda C. Padilla & Rowena Fong (2016) Identifying Grand Challenges Facing Social Work in the Next Decade: Maximizing Social Policy Engagement, Journal of Policy Practice, 15:3, 133-144, DOI: 10.1080/15588742.2015.1013238. Link to the Journal of Policy Practice.