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Susan Kemp, PhD

Professor Emerita

University of Washington

Lisa Reyes Mason, PhD

Associate Professor

University of Denver

Lawrence Palinkas, PhD

Endowed Professor

University of Southern California


Shanondora Billiot, PhD

Arizona State University

Amy Krings, PhD

Loyola University Chicago

Praveen Kumar, PhD

Boston College

Claire Luce

Virginia Commonwealth University

John Mathias, PhD

Florida State University

Dorlisa Minnick, PhD

Shippensburg University

Felicia Mitchell, PhD

Arizona State University

Meredith Powers, PhD

University of North Carolina,


Kelly Smith, DSW

Institute of Social Work &

Environmental Justice

Michael Spencer, PhD

University of Washington

Samantha Teixeira, PhD

Boston College


In a 2015 concept paper, leaders of the

Grand Challenge to Create Social

Responses to a Changing Environment

identified four major areas for social work

with respect to environmental change:

1. Disaster preparedness and response

2. Population dislocation

3. Community-level organizing and development

4. Mitigation, advocacy, and practice engagement

Over the past five years, members of

the Grand Challenge network and their

colleagues have engaged in myriad

activities that are helping to Create Social

Responses to a Changing Environment .

They have:

• Launched a new website and blog to

showcase their writing and research. Recent

blog posts include: "Caring for the Environment

becomes Business' Business," "Do Solar Lamps

Help Children Study?," and  "From Climate Grief

to Direct Action"

• Published numerous briefs, reports, books,

and peer-reviewed articles on the subject,

including the book "People and Climate

Change," co-edited by network co-lead Lisa

Reyes Mason, which "closely examines people's

lived experience, climate-related injustice and

inequity, why some groups are more vulnerable

than others, and what can be done about it"

• Conducted studies that provided insights and

recommendations for the local communities of

Flint, MI, and North St. Louis, MO

• Elevated the work of junior faculty by

showcasing their work in publications and

providing mentorship

• Participated in media interviews on how the

effects of natural disasters are exacerbated by

underlying socioeconomic factors

• Contributed to podcasts such as inSocialWork

from the University of Buffalo. In one episode,

network co-lead Lawrence Palinkas discusses

the translation and implementation of

evidence-based practices and in another,

Lisa Reyes Mason discusses the concept of


• Forged collaborative relationships with

researchers and practitioners in related

disciplines. Notably, Samantha Teixeira

has worked with environmental activists to

elaborate a social work-based rationale

for supporting the Green New Deal

• Participated in several speaker series,

including the University of Denver's Science

for Action Series, NOAA's Coastal Resilience

Webinar Series, and the Tennessee

Environmental Council's Community-Driven

Policy and Practice event

• Developed new, interdisciplinary curricula for

students of social work and helped promote the

Environmental Justice Curriculum Guide from

the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)

• Convened "People and Climate Change:

Vulnerability, Adaptation, Social Justice," an

international conference on climate change


Members of the Grand Challenge have articulated the following objectives for the

next five years:

• Further specify the goals of the Grand Challenge and the associated actions required to achieve them

• Increase mentoring supports for earlier-stage researchers interested in joining the network

• Develop strategic partnerships with other Grand Challenges, such as Close the Health Gap and

Eliminate Racism

• Pursue opportunities to effect policy at all levels - local, state, and national

• Increase involvement in local community development efforts

• Establish stronger connections between social workers and environmental justice advocates

• Continue to advocate for their policy recommendations:

1. Adopt and implement evidence-based approaches to disaster risk reduction

2. Strengthen equity-oriented urban resilience policies and proactively engage marginalized

communities in adaptation planning

3. Develop policies targeting environmentally induced migration and population displacement

(e.g. amending the Stafford Act)

An Impact Report at Year 5 of the 10-Year Initiative | 23


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