Environmental Social Work: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Environmental Social Work

1st Edition

Edited by Mel Gray, John Coates, Tiani Hetherington


340 pages

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Social work has been late to engage with the environmental movement. Often working with an exclusively social understanding of environment, much of the social work profession has overlooked the importance of environmental issues. However, recently, the impact of and worldwide attention to climate change, a string of natural disasters, and increased understanding of issues around environmental justice has put the environment, sustainability, and well-being in the spotlight.

Divided into three parts, this field-defining work explores what environmental social work is, and how it can be put into practice. The first section focuses on theory, discussing ecological and social justice, as well as sustainability, spirituality and human rights. The second section comprises case studies of evolving environmental social work practice. The case studies derive from a range of areas from urban gardens and community organizing to practice with those affected by climate change. The final section – relevant to students and lecturers – looks at learning about environmental issues in social work.

Environmental Social Work provides an integrated theoretical and practical overview of why and how social work might respond to environmental factors affecting the societies and people they work with at international, national, local and individual levels.


"This new and timely book offers a very comprehensive, useful and inspiring introduction to encourage social workers in a range of fields to engage with the ecological environment. The editors have brought together a valuable collection of chapters providing an excellent introduction to how the environment might be incorporated further into social work theory, practice and education… This book will be a useful resource for those practitioners seeking to make changes to their work, education and theory, as they more fully incorporate the environment into their practice." - Uschi Bay, Social Work Education: The International Journal

Table of Contents

Introduction Editors Part 1 - Theory: Mapping the Terrain of Environmental Social Work 1. Ecological and Social Justice: A Call to Action Fred Besthorn 2. Ecosocial Work with Marginalized Populations: Time for Action on Climate Change Tiani Hetherington & Jennifer Boddy 3. Environmental Sustainability, Sustainable Development, and Social Work Arielle Dylan 4. Social Science Research in Ocean Environments: A Social Worker’s Experience Susan A. Taylor 5. Climate Change as a Human Rights Issue Frank Tester Part 2 - Practice: Case Studies of Environmental Social Work Practice 6. Community Gardens, Creative Community Organizing, and Environmental Activism Benjamin Shepard 7. Social Work Practice with Drought-Affected Families: An Australian Case Study Daniela Stehlik 8. Social Work, Animals, and the Natural World Thomas Ryan 9. Restoration Not Incarceration: An Environmentally-Based Intervention for Working With Young Offenders Christine Lynn Norton, Barbara Holguin, & Jarid Manos 10. Social Work and the Struggle for Corporate Social Responsibility Dyann Ross Part 3 - Education: Challenging Students to Respond to Environmental Issues 11. Transforming the Curriculum: Social Work Education and Ecological Consciousness Peter Jones 12. Emotion, Ethics, and Fostering Environmental Citizenship Mishka Lysack 13. Social Work Education on The Environment in Contemporary Curricula in the USA R. Anna Hayward, Shari E. Miller, & Terry V. Shaw 14. Environmental Sustainability: Educating Social Workers for Interdisciplinary Practice Cathryne Schmitz, Tom Matyók, Channelle James, & Lacey Sloan 15. Social Work Education for Disaster Relief Work Lena Dominelli Conclusion Editors

About the Editors

Mel Gray is Professor of Social Work and Research Professor in the Research Institute for Social Inclusion and Wellbeing (RISIW), in the School of Humanities and Social Science at University of Newcastle, Australia.

John Coates was Professor and Director of the School of Social Work at St Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada, and is Chair and a founding member of the Canadian Society for Spirituality and Social Work.

Tiani Hetherington is a Lecturer in Social Work at Griffith University, Australia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Allied Health Services / General
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery
NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief