CALL FOR PAPERS: “Promoting Social Change: Policy Advocacy, Research, and Innovation in Social Work”


This special issue of Advances in Social Work will explore how social workers can shape and influence social policy. New political realities have crystallized the urgency of combating ill-conceived policies; electing leaders and advancing policies that reflect social work’s root values; and galvanizing the participation of overlooked individuals and communities in the fight for social, economic, environmental, and political justice.

 Over the last 20 years, significant policy issues have disproportionately and negatively affected individuals, families, organizations, and communities served by the social work profession—including the lingering impact of welfare reform, rolling back of consumer and environmental protections, undermining of voting rights, and, uneven enforcement of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Although we have achieved some progress in health care access, mental health parity, criminal justice reform, and protections for immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community, these policy reforms have often been incremental and many are currently threatened.

The next 20 years will be equally demanding, as we face the effects of the opioid epidemic, an overburdened child welfare system, the unraveling of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, a widening income gap, the impacts of gerrymandering on elections, hostility toward immigrants, the plague of school violence, and a dramatic rise in hate crimes. Too often, social workers are on the sidelines of these important conversations or are reacting rather than proactively shaping policies that are evidence-informed and reflect our core values and ethical principles. It is time to step up and lead.

As we consider social work’s role in policy over the coming decades, we are interested in manuscripts (conceptual, analytical, and empirical) that capture successful approaches to advancing social work’s role in the policy arena, or provide guidance on where we should be turning our collective attention in the future. Manuscripts that position social work researchers, educators, and practitioners to set the policy agenda and tackle future policy challenges are especially encouraged. We open this call to all social workers who have an interest in influencing social policy.

We are accepting abstracts addressing any of the following areas:

  • The current and/or future state of social work policy practice
  • Increasing the number of policy-focused graduates in social work
  • Evidence-informed methods for teaching social policy and policy practice
  • Innovative strategies for engaging students in policy advocacy and electoral politics
  • Evidence-informed advocacy
  • New models of policy intervention
  • Collaborating with micro/clinical practitioners to advance policy change
  • Social media’s role in the future of policy practice
  • New directions in policy research
  • Increasing the use of social work research by policymakers
  • Effects of the political landscape on policy outcomes
  • Analysis of existing or proposed policies and their impact on service recipients
  • Policy developments of importance to social work
  • Advancing social work leadership in the policy arena
  • Empirical research related to electoral politics and voting rights
  • Evaluating policy advocacy
  • Promoting a culture of policy engagement in the workplace
  • Organizing affected communities for policy change

Authors should submit a 300-400 word abstract by June 15, 2018.   Abstracts should be submitted to the Guest Editors by email with the subject line, Advances in Social Work. Selected authors will be invited by June 30, 2018 to submit a full manuscript (20-25 pages) by September 30, 2018. Submitted manuscripts will be anonymously peer-reviewed. This issue is scheduled to appear in June 2019.

Guest Editors:

Amy Murphy-Nugen, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, Western Carolina University,

Sunny Harris Rome, MSW, JD, Professor, George Mason University,


Authors should follow the guidelines for writing articles for Advances in Social Work:

Deadline for abstracts:                          June 15, 2018

Deadline for invited manuscripts:     Sept 30, 2018