MU Professors Serve on ISFW New York Team at UN Conference in Geneva

Michael Cronin, Ph.D., and Anne Deepak, Ph.D., Associate Professors in the School of Social Work, traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, this past June to represent the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) United Nations (UN) Commission at the strategic planning meeting.

The IFSW exists to represent and present social work perspectives to the UN and their agencies in order to work towards actions that achieve common goals using social work and its methodologies and ideologies as a framework for problem solving. Cronin, Deepak, and Robin Mama, Ph.D., the founding dean and Professor of the School of Social Work at Monmouth, were members of the New York representation for three days while the ISFW updated their statement of intent as well as worked with other non-governmental organizations NGOs to help strengthen the IFSW’s relationship with UN agencies.

“The intention of this meeting in Geneva was to take our mission to another level, and now we have a revised vision and an aim. We’re going to add to this work and over this next year, present to IFSW executive and member organizations for approval,” said Cronin in an article published on Monmouth’s website.

The ISFW consists of multiple teams which have a maximum of five members. One of the members must be an ISFW UN commissioner and the rest of the team members must be regional representatives. Each team represents a different region: New York, Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, Bangkok, and Santiago.

“In each of these meetings we needed to not only figure out what we’re going to do for the next five years, but to also make significant partnerships with these agencies… These meetings were quite successful in forging collaborative relationships for our work together with some key initiatives identified,” further explained Cronin.

In addition to the three faculty members who represented the New York team while in Geneva, one social work graduate student, Sophia Caporusso, was invited to be on the team as an intern through a program exclusive.

“My hopes regarding the impact of this work is to advance the influence of social work in other professional spaces. Looking at the world through a social work perspective grants the opportunity to promote the current strengths advancing human rights as well as advocate and work towards advancing these rights in areas that may be lacking,” reflected Caporusso.

She continued, “I hope to bring more attention and credibility to the profession as a way for improving our world. When faced with the many different social issues affecting global societies and the environment, knowing that I am in a profession working towards fighting those injustices gives me hope and being able to see through my position with IFSW what social workers are accomplishing globally, furthers that.”

As part of her master’s curriculum, field experience is required. Being in the global and community practice program, these internships pertain to macro social work. When discussing placement opportunities with her field advisor, Janine Speiser, it was suggested that Caporusso look into IFSW UN.

Deepak is the newest faculty member added to the team and the mentor for the internship program. She also co-authored a policy paper that was adopted by the IFSW titled “The Role of Social Workers in Advancing a New Eco-Social World.” This policy explains and lays out the structure needed for the development of the IFSW’s position on co-building a new eco-social world grounded in a holistic human rights framework and serves as a call-to-action for governments and key stakeholders to assure a more sustainable and just world. It also provides solutions to help co-build a new eco-social world through creating relationships and partnerships between civil society, global bodies, governments, and UN agencies.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of writing this policy with my colleagues from the IFSW UN Commission to affirm the role of social workers in advancing an eco-social world using a holistic human rights framework. It was amazing to be an observer during the IFSW General Meeting as social work associations from all over the world considered the policy and then voted to adopt it. Social workers have been on the frontlines doing this work in collaboration with local communities, and this policy affirms and amplifies that work even further,” concluded Deepak.