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'Social Work of The Future' Examined April 3 at 100th Anniversary of Nation's First School of Social Work

Leaders in Global Issues Look at Worldwide Trends, Their Impact on Tomorrow's Social Worker

BOSTON (March 22, 2004) — In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the nation's first school of social work, a trio of some of the leading thinkers on key global issues will speak April 3 in Boston about worldwide trends and challenges of the future that will significantly impact the social work profession.

The Simmons College School of Social Work (SSW), founded in 1904 during an influx of immigrants into America who desperately needed help with jobs, housing and a myriad other social and economic issues, is stepping back during its centennial to examine what the new driving forces for social workers might be, to help frame the profession for the next century, says SSW Dean Joseph Regan.

A capstone of the daylong celebration--attended by hundreds of Simmons social work alumni from around the country--is a 1:30 p.m. panel discussion on "Future Trends, Future Challenges: Critical Social, Political, and Economic Issues for Current and Future Social Work Practice."

Panelists are:

--Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and Chief of Bioethics for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Wolpe will discuss ethical challenges facing those in the social work and health care professions caused by rapid advances in medicine and genetics.

--Elliott Sclar, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Taskforce on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers of the United Nations Millennium Development Project, and director of the graduate programs in urban planning at Columbia University. Sclar will discuss the future of cities and how advances in technology, shifting demographics, and long-term urban poverty will shape the rapid growth of urban areas worldwide.

--Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate and Ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams will talk about international peace, security, and arms control issues and the growing importance of social workers as grass roots political activists.

"When Jeffrey Brackett and Zilpha Smith opened the doors of the Simmons School of Social Work 100 years ago it was, in fact, an experiment," said Dean Regan. "Their sense of mission and need was strong, but there was no roadmap to follow. Their innovation helped create a new field of social work.

"Today, these nationally recognized scholars will give their perspectives on the critical issues of our time. We need to think deeply about the mission of our profession in what is truly now a 'global village' that is changing at a breathtaking pace."

The conference, to be held in the Conference Room of the Main Campus Building at Simmons College (300 The Fenway, Boston), will include a morning series of workshops on a variety of social work issues, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The conference is open to social workers and the public. Registration fee is $40 for SSW alumni, and $50 for the public. To register online, go to and click on "SSW Centennial Celebration."

For further information about the Simmons College School of Social Work, visit the website