ABSTRACT

Over the past 50 years there has been a varied and increasing body of scientific literature on environmental concerns. Within the social sciences, social work has been one of the last disciplines to engage in scientific investigations on the environment. Traditional social work scholarship is nuanced to person-in-environment rather than an environment-including-person focus (Dewane, 2011; McKinnon, 2008), and thereby too narrowly confines investigation. Arguably, the person-in-environment lens limits research to person-centred, anthropogenic, and egocentric explorations that are not useful in ecologically complex investigations (Bay, 2010; Besthorn, 1997, 2008; Besthorn and Canda, 2002; Coates, 2003; Cox 2006). Ironically, if the ‘environment’ positioning were ecosystem in nature, skillsets that encourage research in the aggregate, with specificity to the individual, make social work valuable as a partner in multidisciplinary research related to environmental concerns. Oceans and public health is one research area where such collaboration is greatly needed.