“Rethinking Social Work’s Interpretation of ‘Environmental Justice’: From Local to Global”

Getting Started
Diagram of sustainable developmentEnvironmental forces greatly determine the quality of life that people experience. Fueled by growing concerns about the particular impacts of toxic environmental conditions on low-income minority communities, the environmental movement started gaining ground in the 1980s. To better address a community’s needs and preferences, greater emphasis was placed on appropriate public participation methods, although these are still lacking in many communities. Although the NASW does not explicitly address environmental justice in the Code of Ethics, it has been emphasized in its 2008 official policy statement: “Action in support of the environment should be included in all of the profession’s public and private activities” (NASW, 2008, p. 9). Furthermore, the policies that govern what is taught in social work education included environmental justice to the list of competencies, demonstrating a shift towards more intentional inclusion of environmental issues in social work.

Resources
Article: Rethinking Social Work’s Interpretation of “Environmental Justice”: From Local to Global
Article: Environmental Justice at the Heart of Social Work Practice: Greening the Profession
Video: The Story of Stuff
File: Facts from the Story of Stuff.pdf

Background Information
It is important to critically reflect on how your community and clients are impacted by environmental factors and to study specific theories that can assist you in more effectively engaging with your community and other organizations to make substantive, positive environmental changes in your community. This discussion assignment will have you reflect not only on your personal understanding of theories and frameworks to use in engaging with consistencies for environmental justice, but also identify specific action steps you can take to improve the natural and social environments for clients and your community.

Instructions
Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
Watch the video “The Story of Stuff” to gain insight into the connections between a large number of environmental and social issues and how to create a more sustainable and just world. Read the fact sheet Facts from the Story of Stuff.pdf as well.
Reiew the following two articles:
“Rethinking Social Work’s Interpretation of ‘Environmental Justice’: From Local to Global”
“Environmental Justice at the Heart of Social Work Practice: Greening the Profession”
Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to the following:
How does the person-in-environment framework contribute to your understanding of how clients’ physical environment (as well as that of other vulnerable or oppressed populations) can be enhanced and the natural social world improved? Give an example from one of the resources for this assignment.
How can you use the person-in-environment framework to engage with clients and the community to enact effective changes in the natural environment in your community? Identify and describe two ideas based on the knowledge you gained from the video and readings. Use page 478, “potential roles,” in the article “Rethinking Social Work’s Interpretation of ‘Environmental Justice’: From Local to Global” for ideas on roles and possibilities and explain their connection to your ideas.
What specific measures in “The Story of Stuff” would you take to start helping your community be more “green”? Identify and describe one, and discuss it’s likely impact or effect on clients and/or the community.

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