Social work is a practice-based profession and academic discipline with natural links to whole person education. Social workers strive to connect vulnerable populations with social services, and in a college or university setting, social work educators train students to assess needs, offer counseling, and direct people to available resources. Developing academic programs in social work has been a focus of the United Board’s support in China and, more recently, in Vietnam.
- In China, professors from Hong Kong Polytechnic University have trained faculty at Northwest University and Xi’an Jiaotong University to teach social work, conduct social work research, and construct social work practicum sites. Ultimately, these university-based programs can educate the social work professionals needed to meet the needs of children, the elderly, and the “left-behind” populations in western China’s rural areas.
- Social work educators also can be a valuable source of guidance in establishing service-learning programs in a range of academic disciplines. Dr. Xiang Rong, who serves on the faculty of Yunnan University’s School of Sociology and Social Work and directs its service-learning program, has shared her expertise with educators at higher education institutions in China and Southeast Asia.