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Macro in a Micro World: What the 2012 Rothman Report Means for Social Change Hopefulness

By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker

On Friday June 14th the Macro Social Work Student Network will be hosting an event at Hunter College ( in New York City) to discuss the 2012 Rothman Report.

The Rothman Report was a study carried out by Scholar Dr. Jack Rothman, with support from the Association of Community Organizing and Social Administration (ACOSA), on the state of macro social work.

As some of you are aware macro social work has been in some trouble over recent years.  More and more the profession moves away from its community practice roots as it becomes more focused on clinical practice.  This has made it hard for emerging macro social workers to find professional support and experience in community practice.  Many report in the Rothman Report that they were being actively discouraged by professors and school administration from focusing on macro work and where instead being steered towards clinical practice.  Additionally, community practice internships are hard to come by and licensing in most states focuses on micro.

This has led many to fear that macro social work is at risk of becoming extinct as a practice.  The truth is that social work programs are not providing enough resources on community practice and these days a student interested in such work would be better served obtaining a degree in policy or political science.  A quick review of continuing education courses being offered by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) shows that the overwhelming majority of these courses are geared towards micro work.  In fact I can attest to the near impossibility of finding a workshop for community practice social work.

As noted in the report ACOSA Chair Sandra Fogel has discussed the concerns she has heard with regards to macro social work’s future:

“Sondra Fogel, speaks of hearing a “growing and alarming conversation about the state of macro practice.” That exchange, she states, is widespread among academics and community-based professionals. It concerns “the demise of, or lack of interest in, or lack of support for community/administration/macro practice and scholarship in social work education . . .”’ (Source)

Among frequently noted problems discussed in the report are:

  • Faculties in schools of social work are not interested in macro social work or oppose macro courses or programs.
  • Schools are failing to hire macro faculty.
  • School curriculum is dominated by clinical course work.

You can read the Rothman Report in its entirety here

Macro in a Micro World: What the 2012 Rothman Report Means for Social Change Hopefulness will include a panel led by Dr. Loretta Pyles and Dr. Scott Harding.  There will then be several student led discussion on the current state of macro social work in social work schools.  The event will conclude with a happy hour and networking session.  This event is free but you must register here.

I will be covering the event for Social Work Helper and The Political Social Worker.  Furthermore Social Work Chats will be having a Twitter discussion on the Rothman Report on Monday June 3rd at 8PM EST.  To participate in Social Work Chats use hashtag #SWUnited.

photo credit: EJP Photo via photopin cc

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

What are your thoughts?

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