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Group of students from China Winter Institute 2018

Global Focus & International Social Work

The Crown Family School integrates cross-national and comparative content into our curriculum, including study-abroad and internship placement opportunities for students, lectures by international scholars visiting Chicago, and scholarly and student exchanges in partnership with peer institutions.

Our faculty examine social welfare policy and practice across Asia, Central/Latin America, the former Soviet Union, and Africa, which also complements work in Europe. These faculty also serve on the Steering Committee of the University’s Center in Delhi, the University’s Beijing Governance Committee, and the international advisory board of the Indian Journal of Social Work.

The Crown Family School runs an annual, intensive, one-month study-abroad program on urban poverty and community practice for our Master’s students in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India, the oldest established school of social work in that country. The program includes a reciprocal exchange in Chicago, in which TISS students engage in a parallel program to the one in India, strengthening comparative learning across institutions and countries and building meaningful peer relationships. This work has also begun to generate research collaboration among faculty at both institutions.

In China, the Crown Family School has established a relationship with colleagues at Peking University (PKU), the home to mainland China’s oldest and most well-established social work program. We have hosted PKU faculty at Chicago and have visited PKU to share insights and orientations to social work curriculum and field education as well as to explore common research interests. We are partnered with PKU as part of the China Collaborative, an effort jointly sponsored by the Council of Social Work Education in the United States, China Association of Social Work Educators in China, and the International Association of Schools of Social Work to foster the advancement of social work education and the professionalization of social work in China during a time of rapid development.

The Crown Family School also established, in 2013, an intensive Institute in China in partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) that focuses on responses to social exclusion in Hong Kong, mainland China, and the United States. The annual program allows students from the Crown Family School and PolyU to learn from and gain perspectives from each other. Though presently on hold due to COVID travel restrictions, these intensive institutes have included local site visits in Hong Kong and Mainland China, where students have examined local social welfare issues facing migrants, asylum seekers, and tenant farmers, including housing shortages, health inequality, and economic development policies. As with the TISS program, this exchange is designed to maximize interaction and learning between students from Hong Kong, China, the U.S., and elsewhere, through a range of formal curricular, field-oriented, and informal interactions, and to leverage the comparative perspective such an exchange might provide to think critically about social work practice and social welfare.

The Crown Family School, with our counterparts at Peking University, co-sponsored and hosted a series of scholarly seminars and strategic planning workshops with support from the University of Chicago’s Beijing Center. We have also hosted a series of symposia and workshops, in collaboration with colleagues at Peking University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Seoul National University, focused on the challenges of globalization and urbanization.

The Crown Family School is part of the Tripartite Collaboration for Advancing Social Work in China, launched in 2016, which establishes an endowed joint social work educational exchange program in partnership with PKU and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Working together, our three universities seek to promote the development of graduate social work education and research in China; facilitate international collaborative graduate education and research among the participating universities; and improve the quality of social work education in China, promoting a rigorously professionalized, effective, and ethical social work workforce and service system. In 2017, the Collaboration launched the Enduring Foundation project, an on-the-ground effort to address the needs of migrant families affected by rapid urbanization. This community-based project seeks to promote the positive development and mental health of rural children and adolescents through parenting training workshops, mentoring programs, and community programs.

In February 2021, the Crown Family School announced a $25 million gift from the Kiphart Family Foundation to establish the Susan and Richard Kiphart Center for Global Health and Social Development, led in partnership with the Biological Sciences Division. The Kiphart Center formally opened in May 2022. It will serve as the University’s gateway in bringing together teams from around the University and partner communities to address social determinants of health and improve infrastructure to promote community health and well-being around the world.