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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Education for the social work profession: Innovation in three Evangelical institutions between 1960 and 1985
by Furness, Janet Elisabeth, Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2009, 491; 3392889
Abstract (Summary)

Evangelical institutions of higher education began introducing programs of social work education after 1960 during a period of academic reform and dramatic social change. Public dialogue increasingly acknowledged impoverishment as a reality in America, and the renewal of social concern among evangelicals stimulated interest in education for the social work profession. At the same time, the profession of social work was reorganizing and mobilizing to educate social workers for thousands of new social service jobs. An unlikely intersection of purposes brought evangelicals and social workers together in service to the needs of society. Considering the secular stance of the social work profession and the reticence of evangelicals to engage with social issues for two generations, the development of programs of social work education in evangelical institutions presents a surprising phenomenon ripe for examination.

Employing historical case study method, two questions guide the research. First, why and how were programs of social work education established in evangelical institutions of higher education between 1960 and 1985? Second, what internal and external influences contributed to establishing programs of social work education in these institutions? Archival research in three significant exemplary institutions and personal interviews conducted with faculty and students reveal the meaning that initiating programs of social work education had in each setting. The case studies discuss how theological and professional commitments motivated leaders to introduce education for social work at: Philadelphia Biblical University in Langhorne, Pennsylvania; Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania; and the Carver School of Church Social Work, formerly at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Three themes—theology, gender, and finance—emerge as imperative for understanding the developmental process of each institution during the period. Diversity of cultural heritage, institutional mission, and academic goals and objectives characterize the unique engagement of the schools with theology, gender and finance. Introducing programs of social work education among evangelicals required skillful leaders who envisioned education for the profession of social work as a vehicle of innovation and reform. Leaders also recognized the spirit of the times, knew the history of evangelicals and their institutions, represented that history with integrity in contemporary contexts, and persuaded diverse constituencies that education for social work fit into an evangelical purpose. A delicate relationship ensued between the profession of social work and evangelical institutions. Although skeptical that evangelicals could sustain adequate programs of social work education and surprised that they would try, the social work profession recognized capable leaders among evangelicals and discovered that institutions succeeding in this endeavor furthered the goals of the social work profession.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kimball, Bruce A.
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Education history, Religious education, Higher education
Keywords: Evangelical, Innovation, Leadership, Religious social work, Social work education, Women in social work
Publication Number: 3392889
ISBN: 978-1-109-59172-9
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