SAGE Journal Articles
Explore full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in the chapter.
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This article examines the relationship between spirituality and the environment and the changing values required as we move toward a new politics of social work where commitment to social and political involvement is integral to spirituality, most notably surrounding environmental change. The ecospiritual perspective recognizes human interests are inextricably bound with planetary well-being. It serves not only to broaden social work beyond a preoccupation with the social, but also to shift professional thinking away from the pre-eminence of individualism and dualism, and the unquestioned acceptance of progress and uncontrolled growth that make it difficult for social workers to fulfil their role as agents of social and environmental justice.
Summary: Social work has developed to meet the needs of an industrializing society. As environmental concerns have increased, national, and international social work organizations have called on social workers to incorporate issues of the environment into their professional practice. Although there is a small body of literature related to social work and the environment, the profession has not fully embraced the need to incorporate these issues into social work education or practice. This cross-sectional survey in the United States of a random sample of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) members (n = 373) was designed to gauge the environmental knowledge and attitudes of social work professionals.
Findings: Though social work shares many of the same underlying tenets of groups interested in environmental justice, results suggest that social workers as a profession are no more, nor less, environmentally friendly than the general population.
Applications: By failing to incorporate ecological issues facing the United States and abroad, our current social policies are at best not sustainable, and at worst dangerous for our continued social well-being. Social workers can play a leading role through an understanding of the interrelationship that exists between people and the environment, the integration of environmental issues into their social work practice, and advocating for vulnerable populations.