Human activity is driving global environmental degradation and threatening human health, well-being and survival. A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree with a concentration in Ecological Justice will prepare you to cultivate a compassionate human presence on Earth guided by social work values of equity and justice. As the first ecological justice MSW program in the United States, this concentration will challenge you to envision and create a world — inclusive of natural and built environments — that is thriving, healthy and regenerative for all. You will gain the knowledge and skills to address environmental crises and to protect and restore well-being for people, other species and the planet. 

Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, natural resource depletion, and other urgent environmental problems are rooted in structural inequalities, oppression and lack of understanding of social–ecological systems and interdependencies. The concentration will help you develop a deep understanding of these systemic issues and how to address them. Core topics include social–ecological systems, critical anti-oppressive practice, systems thinking, traditional ecological knowledge, regenerative futures, social and environmental impact assessment, global and domestic policies for ecological justice, program development and administration, and strategies for building the resilience of individuals, groups, or communitiese. You’ll graduate ready for a career as a social worker who applies social justice and ecological justice knowledge, values and skills to improve the health and well-being of all life. 

Starting summer 2021, the Ecological Justice concentration replaced the concentration in Sustainable Development & Global Practice. We offer a  Global Social Work Certificate as well.  

Craig Hall building

Denver Campus Info Sessions

Virtual Information Session: During this session, we will discuss the MSW program, admissions process and financial aid options. There will also be a Q&A where you can chat with current students about their experience at GSSW. 

In-Person Information Session: We are hosting three in-person information sessions where we will discuss the MSW program, field internships, student schedules, living in Denver and more. Attendees will also take a tour of GSSW and the University of Denver. After the tour, prospective students and guests will receive tickets for a complimentary lunch at DU's Community Commons.

two individuals

Your Career Options

With an MSW concentration in Ecological Justice, your social work career could include: 

  • Developing and advocating for policies that promote the health of people and the planet 
  • Working on projects to support circular and regenerative economies locally, nationally or internationally 
  • Working with non-governmental organizations and local, regional and national governments on issues such as environmental racism, air pollution, food security, biodiversity preservation, and energy justice 
  • Applying social–ecological systems science and understandings in all work settings to improve relationships humans have with other species and the natural environment

Learn more about the Ecological Justice curriculum.


Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on ecological justice

  • Earthlinks

    EarthLinks cultivates transformation and self-worth with people experiencing homelessness and poverty by creating opportunities through Earth-centered programs. Individuals step out of isolation and into a community, restoring each other and the planet. Interns learn how to set professional boundaries and communicate with diverse populations while experiencing conservation social work and One Health — uniting the health of the planet with the health of humans. 

  • Re:Vision

    Re:Vision is a community-based nonprofit working in Southwest Denver neighborhoods to cultivate thriving, resilient communities by establishing community food systems, building collective efficacy and igniting community wealth building. Interns help families improve their access to fresh food by growing fresh fruits and vegetables in their backyard.

  • 350 Colorado

    350 Colorado is building a movement of everyday people to transition away from fossil fuels and toward 100% renewable energy. Interns support and mobilize grassroots community organizing efforts to address the climate crisis and create a better Colorado.

  • Urban Land Conservancy

    The Urban Land Conservancy preserves and stewards affordable land and housing. Interns support outreach, data and research efforts alongside the strategy and communications team, contributing to the vision of vibrant, diverse neighborhoods in Denver with thriving quality of life.

Key Faculty

Sarah Bexell

Sarah Bexell

Clinical Associate Professor; Faculty Director, Center of Sustainability

Learn More

Lisa Reyes Mason

Lisa Reyes Mason

Associate Professor; Assoc Dean Academic Affairs

Learn More

Rachel Forbes

Rachel Forbes

Associate Professor of the Practice of Social Work, Western Colorado MSW Program Director

Learn More

Daniel Brisson

Daniel S. Brisson


Learn More

Application Information

Upcoming Final Application Deadline: Summer 2023 Denver Campus Advanced-Standing MSW Program