The GSWLC seeks to enrich social work research, teaching, and practice through scholarly exchanges and reciprocal learning focused on international and comparative perspectives. Further, the GSWLC will collaborate with other Learning Communities to incorporate international perspectives into their areas.
As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, emphasis on global perspectives has become increasingly pervasive. Just as multinational corporations conduct business across international boundaries creating economic interdependence, the policies and actions taken by nation states and international NGOs have an impact on individuals, families and communities across the world. When hundreds of millions of tons of electronic waste from the West piles up in a dump in Ghana, there are serious health issues for the community; when most clothing sold in the U.S. is manufactured abroad, there are implications for jobs, poverty and health in all locations; and when the spread of HIV/AIDS is unable to be suppressed because of the lack of resources, education, prevention and treatment, the whole world is negatively impacted.
Events in remote places take on immediacy for us as global communications vividly bring them to our attention. We are informed and sometimes transformed by our global interconnectedness. We are moved to donate money because of a natural disaster in Haiti, Sri Lanka, or Pakistan and horrified by the "stoning" of an Iraqi girl; we contemplate giving more than $2.5 billion a year in foreign government aid to China, the world's second largest economy, while questioning its human rights practices. What are illustrative in these examples are not the events or issues per se, but rather our knowledge of them, and how we interpret and respond to these events and issues as individuals and as a society. Social workers are working with immigrants and refugees, addressing issues of human rights and child labor, working on transnational adoptions, and engaging in a range of activities that touch upon cross-national impacts, understandings, and misunderstandings. As a social work program we can opt to integrate and further emphasize the ramifications of these global connections for our curriculum and our students, as well as our research and writing.