Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds

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Canadian Scholars
300 pages
6 x 9 inches
April 2009
Print ISBN: 9781551303574


This ground-breaking new work provides a detailed and extensive comparison of how the physical environment has been conceptualized in social work and other professions, and offers a new and attractive foundational metaphor for social work. The author acknowledges the need for greater awareness and action regarding environmental impacts and the book promotes more comprehensive notions of responsibility, identity, and stewardship that lead to a dynamic metaphor of people as place as the foundation for relevant social work practice in the early 21st century.

Why is that a profession with a declared focus on "person-in-environment" has been so silent on the environmental crisis?

Mainstream social work theory has narrowed the understanding of environment to include merely the social environment, but this approach is no longer sufficient for participation in multi-disciplinary efforts to tackle urgent environmental issues.

Transformative notions of responsibility, identity, and stewardship have been developed on the fringes of our professional community: rural/remote social workers, Aboriginal social workers, and international and spiritual social workers. They must now move to the core of the profession.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Environment, Social Work, and Ecological Thinking
The Environmental Imperative and Social Work
Author and Voice
Organization of the Book
Thinking Ecologically

Chapter One: Smoke and Mirrors: How the Environment Became the Social Environment
The Effect: Personal Observations of the Vanished Environment
Beginnings: Lighting the Match
The 1980s and 1990s: Still Smokin'
The 2000s: Illusion Reaffirmed
Variations on the Illusion

Chapter Two: False Starts and Sputterings: Partial Efforts to Include the Physical Environment
The Physical Environment as Window Dressing
The Physical Environment Limited to Agency or Client Environs
Diagrams and the Disappearing Physical Environment
Assessment and the Absent Physical Environment
Case Studies: Physical Environment as a Rurual Consideration
Environmentalist or Social Worker?

Chapter Three: Clearing Space in the Conceptual Brambles: Incorporating the Physical Environment
Mid-1990s Forum
Environment as Central
Place and Space in Social Work

Chapter Four: Rural/Remote Social Work: Environmental Context and Place
Rurality and Rural Social Work
Divergent Paths for Rural Social Work
A Personal Example from the Northern Canadian Context
Remote Practice
A Sense of Place

Chapter Five: Environment as Sacred: Spirituality, Deep Ecology, and Aboriginal Perspectives
Spirituality and Social Work
Spirituality and the Environment: Smoke and Mirrors Again?
Spiritual Interventions and the Environment
Deep Ecology
Aboriginal Social Work: Traditional Knowledge, the Land, and Identity

Chapter Six: International Social Work: Environment, Devleopment, and Sustainability
International Social Work and Global Environmental Citizenship
Development and the Environment
International Voices for Sustainable Development
International Social Work Organizations: Glimpses of the Environment

Chapter Seven: Perspectives from Other Disciplines: The Environment and a Sense of Place
Painting: Encounters with Landscape
Film: Telling a Place
Music: Soundscapes and Expressions of Locality
Viticulture: Terroir and Place Value
Sociology: Habitus and Embodied Sense of Place
Psychology: Environments, Place, and Behaviour
Environmental Design: Placemaking and Positive Space
Geography: Earthkeeping and Places that Matter
Education: Wayfinding and Living Well in Place
Summary: Place, Sustainability, and Multidisciplinary Efforts

Chapter Eight: Language and Disfluency: Expressing the Environment in Social Work
Visual Cues: Punctuation and Capitalization
Language and Limitations
Prepositions and Propositions
Disfluency and Environmental Discourse

Chapter Nine: People as Place
Reclaiming the Environment: Recognizing Place and Stewardship
Models and Metaphors: Retiring "Person-in-Environment"
Social Purpose: Living Well in Place



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