It is widely accepted that we live in a globally interconnected environment. Yet, in spite of our profession’s emphasis on a person(s)-in-environment perspective, too few social
work education programs in the United States incorporate a global perspective into our work: our curricula, teaching, scholarship,
and practice. Recent changes in CSWE’s Educational Policy and Accreditation
Standards have responded to this situation. The Preamble of this document now states:
Social work practice promotes human well-being by strengthening opportunities, resources, and
capacities of people in their environments and by creating policies and services to correct conditions that limit human
rights and the quality of life. The social work profession works to eliminate poverty, discrimination, and oppression.
Guided by a person-in-environment perspective and respect for human diversity, the profession works to effect social and economic
justice worldwide [emphases added].
Programs are expected to use Educational Policy, Section 1, in formulating their mission, goals, and objectives.
Section 1.0, Purposes of the Social Work Profession, states:
The social work profession…is the primary profession in the development,
provision, and evaluation of social services. Professional social workers are leaders in a variety of organizational settings
and service delivery systems within a global context [emphasis added].
Effectively linking social work and human rights necessitates familiarity with the existing set of international
human rights instruments (with which, in general, our social work colleagues in other parts of the world are much more familiar
than we are). Working to advance worldwide social and economic justice and viewing
service delivery systems within a global context challenge us to broaden our vision.
Although one does not need to physically leave one’s own country to incorporate a global perspective into one’s
work, the opportunity to live and work in another country and to collaborate with social workers from other countries, certainly
enhances appreciation for and development of a global viewpoint and understanding. Numerous
means of doing so exist. In this article we focus on the Fulbright Program as
a wonderful opportunity for members of BPD to globalize social work and want to encourage you all to consider applying for
As stated in the Program’s literature, the Fulbright Program is “the U.S. Government’s
flagship exchange activity…viewed…as a much needed vehicle for mutual understanding that would provide the opportunity
for future leaders to observe and better comprehend the institutions, cultures and societies of other countries and peoples.”
Sponsored by the U. S. Department of State and administered by the Council for International Exchange of
Scholars (CIES), Fulbright provides funds for post-baccalaureate students, faculty, administrators, and professional practitioners
to undertake graduate study, advanced research, and/or university teaching in 140 countries throughout the world. There are
Fulbright programs for scholars and graduate students from other countries to come to U.S. universities and colleges and for
our faculty, practitioners, and graduate students to become Fulbright Scholars in other countries. A brief overview and sampling
of the range of programs follow, delineating those that we believe are most relevant to our social work education community.
The U.S. Scholar Program is probably the one that most of us are familiar with. This program provides on a yearly basis over 800 grants to university and college faculty and administrators,
and to professional practitioners and independent scholars, to lecture and conduct research in some 140 countries around the
world. Most of the awards are for lecturing or a combination of lecturing and
research, with only approximately 20 percent solely for research. Any U.S.
citizen who holds a doctorate, a Master’s, or equivalent professional terminal degree is eligible to apply. Applications from both educators and professional practitioners are encouraged and the MSW is recognized
as the terminal degree in social work. Appropriate college or university teaching
experience is required for lecturing awards. It is a myth that only senior faculty
members are awarded Fulbrights and that one must come from a large, prestigious university.
Although countries vary in what they are seeking, there are awards for faculty at all levels from junior to senior
ranks. Fulbrighters also come from small as well as large institutions, from liberal arts and comprehensive and community
colleges as well as from large universities. There are numerous grants available
for those of us who are monolingual; those grants also tend to be the ones for which most applications are received. The possibilities multiply for those of us who are conversant in languages other than
English. Awards also range in length of time, from two months to a full academic year.
Scholars are provided with a monthly stipend (typically between $2400 and $2600 per month; a monthly living allowance
to cover housing, food, and local transportation; and a round-trip travel and relocation benefit. A dependent allowance (for
up to two dependents) is also available.
It is recommended that applicants make contact with host-country institutions prior to submitting their
proposals. In many instances this will mean that the applicant should make a
trip to the country or at least have significant contact with faculty and administrators via email, snail mail, or phone to
inquire what skills, courses, disciplines and areas of expertise might be relevant and of particular interest to the host
It is imperative that applicants plan ahead. Applications
must be completed over a year before the project is scheduled to begin. For example,
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars is now receiving applications until August 1, 2003 for projects that are
to begin during the academic year 2004-2005.
We have found the program officers at CIES to be extremely helpful resources, responsive to questions,
and willing to provide consultation and advise regarding all steps of the application to award process. Do not hesitate to call or email them. They are committed
to the Fulbright Program and want to see you succeed. They have a great, user
friendly, website that provides a wealth of information. On it you will find
program descriptions, applications and guidelines, tips for completing the applications, and contact information for program
officers. The website is: www.cies.org