Social work has been late to engage with the environmental movement. Often working with an exclusively social understanding of environment, much of the social work profession has overlooked the importance of environmental issues. However, recently, the impact of and worldwide attention to climate change, a string of natural disasters, and increased understanding of issues around environmental justice has put the environment, sustainability, and well-being in the spotlight.

Divided into three parts, this field-defining work explores what environmental social work is, and how it can be put into practice. The first section focuses on theory, discussing ecological and social justice, as well as sustainability, spirituality and human rights. The second section comprises case studies of evolving environmental social work practice. The case studies derive from a range of areas from urban gardens and community organizing to practice with those affected by climate change. The final section – relevant to students and lecturers – looks at learning about environmental issues in social work.

Environmental Social Work provides an integrated theoretical and practical overview of why and how social work might respond to environmental factors affecting the societies and people they work with at international, national, local and individual levels.

chapter |28 pages


Overview of the last ten years and typology of ESW
ByMel Gray, John Coates, Tiani Hetherington

part |90 pages


chapter |15 pages

Radical equalitarian ecological justice

A social work call to action
ByFred H. Besthorn

chapter |16 pages

Ecosocial work with marginalized populations

Time for action on climate change
ByTiani Hetherington, Jennifer Boddy

chapter |14 pages

Social science research in ocean environments

A social worker's experience
BySusan A. Taylor

chapter |17 pages

Climate change as a human rights issue

ByFrank Tester

part |92 pages


chapter |21 pages

Social work practice with drought-affected families

An Australian case study
ByDaniela Stehlik

chapter |16 pages

Social work, animals, and the natural world

ByThomas Ryan

chapter |21 pages

Restoration not incarceration

An environmentally based pilot initiative for working with young offenders
ByChristine Lynn Norton, Barbara Holguin, Jarid Manos

part |108 pages


chapter |18 pages

Transforming the curriculum

Social work education and ecological consciousness
ByPeter Jones

chapter |14 pages

Social work education on the environment in contemporary curricula in the USA

ByR. Anna Hayward, Shari E. Miller, Terry V. Shaw

chapter |20 pages

Environmental sustainability

Educating social workers for interdisciplinary practice
ByCathryne L. Schmitz, Tom Matyók, Channelle D. James, Lacey M. Sloan

chapter |18 pages

Social work education for disaster relief work

ByLena Dominelli

chapter |21 pages


ByMel Gray, John Coates, Tiani Hetherington