Environmental sustainability and social work: a rural Australian evaluation of incorporating eco- social work in field education

Fran Crawford, Savana Agustine, Leah Earle, Ahmed Bawa Kuyini-Abubakar, Yoni Luxford, Hurriyet Babacan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change poses significant threat to the wellbeing of global society. Addressing this change has as yet generated no fixed blueprint for social work practice and education. This paper reports on a formative evaluation of one Australian initiative to address this transformative opening in social work field education. Prompted by service users' and workers' experience of the impact of drought, a rurally located social work course team amended the field education curriculum to include a focus on Environment and Sustainability. This learning goal was added to the existing learning goals derived from the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) Practice Standards. Students and field supervisors were surveyed on their experience of meeting this new learning goal. While most expressed confidence in understanding the concepts involved, they clearly lacked assurance in interpreting these in practice encounters. Considering their qualitative input suggests that this topic is making a transition from being on the margins of social work to becoming mainstream. Their open-ended responses indicate that the incorporation of environmental sustainability into practice is at a threshold stage of development. Further enactment of eco-social work at the local level is concluded to be supported by using a transformative learning framework in facilitating critical reflection and collaborative dialogue for effective change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-599
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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