UVM Professor's New Book Looks at the Future of Social Work

Stanley L Witkin's recently published book, Transforming Social Work (Palgrave Macmillan), is about social change from the perspective of social work. He argues that social work is mired in incremental change due, in large part, to the dominant intellectual frameworks that influence its understanding of social issues.

In contrast, if the profession is to realize its potential as source of societal transformation, it must adopt radically alternative frameworks of understanding. For Witkin, one such framework is social construction, a resource for re-directing attention to the historical, cultural and social contexts of beliefs and values. He uses this framework to explore enduring and contemporary issues such as ethics, risk, cultural competence, and how they might be re-conceptualized to better address the complex, multifaceted issues of our global society.    

Professor Witkin is the co-founder of the Global Partnership for Transformative Social Work, an organization that invites and supports global dialogue on transformative inquiry, practice, and pedagogy for the purpose of contributing to a more humane, tolerant and peaceful world. He has been a Fulbright scholar in Finland and Ireland, and has held visiting scholar appointments at universities in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

As a professor of social work in the University of Vermont's College of Education and Social Services, Witkin leads a very popular travel study course in Finland called Social Work in a Global Context. The course includes faculty and students from around the world, providing a unique opportunitiy to learn about similarities and differences in social issues and practices.

Professor Witkin's book has received the following peer reviews from university scholars around the world:

"Risk, human rights, ethics, a strengths perspective (and by implication resilience), globalization, cultural competence – notions that in most cases carry positive associations in the social work community – all come under his spotlight."  Ian Shaw, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of York, UK and Professor of Social Work, Aalborg University, Denmark

"Witkin has done an excellent job of explaining theories, epistemologies and ontologies in very readable ways. He presents philosophical and theoretical ideas in an approachable way without over-simplifying."  Dan Wulff, Professor of Social Work, University of Calgary, Canada

"Using a social constructionist framework, Witkin deftly challenges assumptions around salient issues, highlighting the relationship between knowledge, power and discourse. He argues for spaces of negotiated and multiple truths and realities. A compelling read that social work students, practitioners, educators and researchers, and those in related disciplines will find inspiring."  Vishanthie Sewpaul, Emeritus Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

To learn more about the book, please visit the publisher's web page.