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Learning Green Social Work in Global Disaster Contexts: A Case Study Approach

Green social work (GSW) is a nascent framework within the social work field that provides insights regarding social workers’ engagement in disaster settings. Although this framework has recently garnered more attention, it remains under-researched and underdeveloped within the context of social work research, education, and practice in Canada and internationally. To further develop GSW in social work education and professional training, we considered how social work students and practitioners can use a learning framework to understand the impact and build their capacities to serve vulnerable and marginalized populations in diverse disaster settings. To do this, we developed a four-step case study approach, as follows: (1) provide detailed background information on the cases, (2) describe how each case is relevant to social work, (3) discuss how each case informs social work practice from a GSW perspective, and (4) provide recommendations for social work practitioners and students using GSW in future disaster-specific efforts. This case study approach centers on natural, technological, and intentional/willful hazards that examine current GSW research–practice engagement in Canada and internationally. Applying this four-step case study approach to three extreme events in Canada and internationally (a natural hazard, a technological hazard, and an intentional/willful hazard) illustrates it as a potential method for social work students and professionals to build their GSW capacities. This will assist in building the resilience of Canadian and international communities—especially those who have been historically marginalized. This article sheds light on how current social work education and professional training should develop new approaches to incorporate the GSW framework into the social work curriculum at large in order to prepare for future extreme events while incorporating environmental and social justice into research and practice.

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Kyle Breen
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Journal article - open access
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