The Evolution and Changing Context of Social Work Education

Shelden R. Gelman

Abstract


The nature of social work education has changed dramatically over the course of my academic career: From the degree(s) required for a faculty position to the number of years of practice experience; from expectations for research and publication, to criteria for promotion and tenure; from residential instruction to distance education; from an emphasis on foundation curriculum to practice competencies and outcomes; and, from a commitment to service to a quest to be the highest “ranked” program within the highest ranked institution. Given that change is an ongoing phenomenon, it is difficult to anticipate curriculum direction or plan one’s career path with a high degree of certainty. The future is often determined by external events, fate, where you are at a specific time, the assistance of others, and the opportunities that are presented. These changes and the evolution of social work education as a field of professional practice can best be demonstrated by reflecting on my own experiences in becoming a faculty member and serving in various academic positions over the last 45 years. The contrast between my personal experiences and those of the typical student in 2014 may help demonstrate some of the changes that have occurred in social work education over the intervening years.

Keywords


Social work education, academic careers, professional development, mentoring

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