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UH Moment

UH Moment: “China Social Work”

The profession of social work is, at its core, about collaborating.   A new collaboration with the UH Graduate College of Social work and other universities will aid China.


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China. Under Chairman Mao, social work as a profession was eradicated. Today, an ambitious government plan aims to graduate two million new social workers by the year 2020.  It is an effort aided by the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work.

“We will partner with universities in mainland China to help them develop their programs, teaching faculty how to teach, helping faculty develop curricula , helping faculty look at internships and field placements,” said Ira Colby, dean of the Graduate College of Social Work.  The project, conducted by the Council on Social Work Education, gathered six other U.S. universities.

Ira Colby, Dean of the UH Graduate School of Social Work“They broke the country into seven regions. For example, UH is responsible for the eastern hub, so we are working in Shanghai with the social work programs there,” Colby said.  “This has never been done before.  There’s no model. We’re creating this.”

Rather than exporting U.S. programs, Colby says the college and other U.S. universities will instead build on what China wants and needs.  

Social work means different things in different countries.  Colby says this global effort to help China is part of that definition.   

“If we look at some of the core principles of the profession, we see it’s around the idea of collaboration. It’s about working with others,” he said. “It’s an incredibly exciting project and I’m incredibly fortunate.”