Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Cheryl-Anne Cait

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The social work profession has traditionally concerned itself with a wide variety of issues pertaining to human health and well-being. However, the importance of the human/nature relationship has long been ignored, despite the field’s purported dual commitment to both ‘person’ and ‘environment.’ While recent literature challenges this tendency, minimal attention focuses on the role of social work university education in making a paradigm shift toward natural-environmental concerns. This thesis is a theoretical examination of how existing social work university education could be re-envisioned to more fully integrate natural-environmental values and issues into its core curriculum and overarching educational philosophy. Several meta-theories provide a conceptual foundations for the incorporation of natural-environmental concepts into social work. Case examples reinforce how social and natural-environmental phenomena are integrally connected, and how examining them conjointly is fundamental to social work. A comprehensive rationale for the development of an alternative, natural-environmentally-attuned social work university education framework is outlined, followed by the presentation of a unique education model that is comprised of 7 specific topics. Hypothetical plans for implementing the model, which include a sample curriculum, as well as a five-year implementation strategy, are offered. Implications for the wide-scale operationalization of this model within social work university education are discussed with regard to both the social work profession, as well as for society at large. It is argued that re-orienting social work students toward a greater knowledge, awareness, and concern for natural-environmental issues has the potential to improve the efficacy of social work practice interventions, as well as help to address the global ecological crisis.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons