Humans need an ecological understanding of their place in the natural environment to promote personal health and well-being, environmental awareness, sense of belonging in a community, sustainability, resilience and advocacy. If creating connections among humans, animals and the environment interests you, then consider a master of social work (MSW) degree with a concentration in Sustainable Development & Global Practice.
Coursework and specialized field education will prepare you for a career in environmental social work or international social work, where you’ll deal with such social and environmental justice issues as access to food, water and housing, and human and environmental consequences of conflict. You’ll develop your skills in assessment, community engagement, education, health promotion, mobilization, organizing, poverty reduction, environmental preservation and capacity building. You will learn about local and global policies and laws relevant to humane treatment of humans and animals, human security, sustainable development strategies in countries emerging from conflict, conservation of nature, biodiversity and sustainability, and land and water use.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GSSW now offers additional start dates and program tracks for the Two-Year and Advanced-Standing Denver Campus MSW Programs. Learn More and Apply Now.
Your Career Options
With an MSW concentration in Sustainable Development & Global Practice, your social work career could include:
- Applying the concepts of One Health in settings that address the relationships among humans, other animals and the natural environment
- Working with nongovernmental organizations and local, regional and national governments on sustainable development projects such as food scarcity, food security and food justice
- Working on projects connected to economic development locally, nationally and internationally
- Working on issues connected to refugees both domestically and internationally
- Developing policy related to One Health in organizations such as the Red Cross and refugee resettlement programs
Gehrig Haberstock, MSW ’16, Disaster Program Specialist, American Red Cross Read More
“Faculty at GSSW were willing to go the extra mile for those who took their graduate education seriously, whether that was making a professional connection, asking you to make a meaningful contribution in a publication, or taking a few minutes to talk about life after school.”
Global Cultural Perspectives: Consensus and Conundrums
About this Course
Social workers increasingly practice in global communities both nationally and internationally. Changes in practice environments demand that social work practitioners are informed citizens of comparative cultures and societies. This course examines the values and ethics of social work practice in a global context of power, privilege and oppression. Course materials and educational experiences are used to challenge students to examine ethical and value-based conundrums when practicing in global settings and to develop practice skills to enhance the health, well-being and sustainability of communities. Through the use of case studies, critical thinking, cultural inventories and reflexivity the course supports and challenges students' personal growth and professional practice.
Social-Ecological Resilience and One Health: Connecting Human and Environmental Wellbeing
About this Course
Social-Ecological Resilience and One Health: Connecting Human and Environmental Wellbeing is a required theory for practice course in the Sustainable Development and Global Practice Concentration. This course builds on an innovative social ecology perspective that emphasizes coupled social-ecological systems and the integrated model of One Health as necessary theoretical frameworks for understanding the inter-connectedness of human health, wellbeing and resilience with that of other species and the natural environment. This course reviews and analyzes theoretical concepts and models for contextualizing the important social and ecological issues impacting our global environment as well as the societal implications of global environmental change. Using an integrated social science approach that highlights sustainable development as a paradigm that acknowledges the interdependence and interconnection between humans and the more-than-human world, social workers practicing in local and global communities will be prepared to implement effective, strengths-based solutions to support sustainable development and capacity-building efforts at various scales. This course will promote critical thinking and develop a knowledge base for sustainability and resilience oriented prevention and intervention strategies, environmental awareness, sense of belonging in a social-ecological community, adaptation and advocacy.
Social and Environmental Impact Assessments
About this Course
Social and environmental impact assessments are important tools for analyzing and managing both the intended and unintended consequences of development projects on human and ecological systems in order to bring about a more equitable and sustainable social ecological system. This class incorporates an understanding of the history and concepts of the three levels of impact assessments (micro, mezzo, and macro) into the research process that is the core of social impact assessments. Students prepare and evaluate social ecological impact assessments through learning to identify and define problems, select theoretical frameworks appropriate to the problem, identify research questions, design a study appropriate for the identified questions, gather and analyze data, and write the final assessment. Particular attention is paid to assessing the effects of interventions on vulnerable populations. Other topics will focus on the practical aspects of project team selection and management, timelines, and the communication of findings to stakeholders.
Explore some of our field education locations with a focus on Sustainable Development & Global Practice:
Denver Rescue Mission
The Denver Rescue Mission helps people who are experiencing homelessness and addiction. Its primary goal is to see these lives transformed through personal accountability, education, spiritual development and community relationships. Interns work with single adults and families who are staying in the Denver Rescue Mission’s transitional housing program, The Crossing. Primary duties include case management, follow-up, resource information and referrals, and goal setting.
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 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 is a community-based nonprofit working in southwest Denver neighborhoods. Re:Vision’s purpose is 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. Through this program a community is formed as individuals share in the process of establishing a garden and celebrating their harvest.
Children’s Future fosters a generation of educated, self-reliant and compassionate role models for Cambodia by promoting children's rights and offering 21st century education and opportunities to the poorest children in rural Cambodia. The organization’s vision is a future where every Cambodian child is safe, healthy, educated and thriving. Interns support children’s rights, provide access to quality education and assist in community development in a post-genocide country.
Edge of Seven
Edge of Seven generates capacity-building services, volunteer support, and awareness for projects that create access to education, health and economic opportunities for girls and women in the developing world, including Nepal, Kenya and Rwanda. Interns work with the executive director to refine strategies and plan for data collection, monitoring and evaluation in the program countries. Interns also create marketing-related efforts that promote the organization, the cause and the mission. Interns may travel to Nepal, Kenya or Rwanda as a part of the internship.
January 2021 Start AS & 2Y Denver Campus MSW Program Early Application Deadline