Conservation social work (CSW) expands the social work ecological model that focuses on persons-in-context to include the consideration of natural physical environments, interrelationships with nonhuman animals, thoughtful stewardship of natural resources, and advocacy and skills for environmental health and resilience.
Conservation Social Work is a much-needed interdisciplinary effort for coming to terms with the critical and continual problems that arise when humans interact with animals and nature. Our relationships with animals and nature are confusing, frustrating, and paradoxical, but integral to life on Earth. Conservation Social Work provides a unifying and global approach for addressing problems centering on human-animal, human-nature, and human-human interactions with the vision of promoting well-being for humans, animals and nature alike.
Ecological intelligence allows us to comprehend systems in all their complexity, as well as the interplay between the natural and man-made worlds.
The following describes a set of skills and knowledge that a Conservation Social Worker should have.
- Understanding the Human-Nature & Human-Animal Bonds (developing ecological intelligence from the framework of the social work profession)
- Understanding the human-animal bond/human-nature bond, and ability to make this information relevant to others in a culturally sensitive way
- Understanding human-animal conflict and finding ways to avoid or solve these issues
- Exploring the roles non-human animals and nature play in the lives of people, and utilizing these roles to provide avenues for healing
- Understanding how the human-animal and human-nature bonds may facilitate empathy with nature and facilitate conservation action; and relate these concepts to practice in regards to human welfare and social justice
- Understanding the roles of environmental injustice (on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels), and how a poor human-nature relationship can negatively affect a persons well-being
- Reintegrating humans into the view of the ecosystem
- Focus on reintegration of humans into the view of the ecosystem, and understanding the symbiotic, yet unbalanced, relationship between humans and nature
- Integrating the physical environment into the person-in-environment framework, and looking at the possibly of environmental-based interventions as treatment tools
- Familiarity with conservation issues and efforts (on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels)
- Review of wide reaching, relevant conservation agreements or regulations, including solutions to conservations issues that have and have not worked
- Review of issues related to overpopulation, overconsumption, resource management, dealing with waste, dealing with environment disasters and pollution, and issues surrounding food production (including the problems related to corn, eating animals, malnutrition, etc.)
- Understanding how environmental or corporate policies affect the lives of individuals and communities as well as the natural environment on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels
- Have an awareness of the models and policies other communities and practitioners are utilizing that meet the needs of the humans, non-human animals and natural environment simultaneously
- Analyzing policies and advocating for policy changes on an organizational, local, state, national or international level in order to promote the values of social and environmental justices
- Individual & Community Empowerment
- Empowering communities and individuals through culturally-appropriate and strengths-based/assets-based assessments through the integration of an environmental framework and awareness
These competencies are a work in progress, and your feedback is essential to developing a complete and comprehensive list. Please leave comments, suggestions, or criticism below.