Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is one of seven U.S. programs chosen to help China build its social work education programs over the next five years. The Mandel School was chosen from 215 U.S. schools with accredited graduate social work programs that received invitations from the Council on Social Work Education to apply and submit proposals.

The project aims to assist the nation in preparing and graduating 3 million professional social workers by 2020. The China Collaborative is a partnership among the China Association for Social Work Education with the Council on Social Work Education’s Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work Education and the International Association of Schools of Social Work.

“Our selection is a recognition of both the quality of our own education program and our cultural competence in working with international partners,” said Mandel School Dean Grover C. Gilmore. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Mandel School ninth in social work schools.

Also involved are Arizona State University, Fordham University, University of Alabama, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Houston and University of Southern California.

Distinguished University Professor M.C. “Terry” Hokenstad will lead the Mandel School’s participation in the project. Also the Ralph S. and Dorothy P. Schmitt Professor and Professor of Global Health, Hokenstad possesses extensive experience in international social work education and research. During his career he has helped develop a master of social work degree program at Beijing Normal University and helped launch education efforts in disaster management at the University of Hong Kong.

In 2006, the Chinese Communist Party called upon the nation’s Ministry of Civil Affairs to build programs that would dramatically increase the number of trained social workers serving the country.

Since that time anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and political scientists have trained social workers in 270 undergraduate social work programs and 72 graduate programs that are authorized by the government and located throughout the country in urban and rural areas.

Even with this progress—or perhaps because of it—professors in China have expressed a desire to learn more about the social work profession from those with deep experience and training specifically in that discipline.

As part of the collaborative, Hokenstad said the Mandel School will host faculty and students from China, and school representatives will travel to China to work with faculty there. Students also may connect via videoconferencing and visits to each campus.

Also participating with Hokenstad will be Mandel School faculty members Kathleen Farkas and David Miller. Zoe Breen Wood, former director of field placement programs, will contribute as well.

Mandel School representatives will to travel to China this fall to meet with faculty from participating Chinese and U.S. campuses. Meanwhile, the school will continue educational programs, established in Beijing and Hong Kong.

The school already has experience working with students from China. Five of 17 students enrolled in its course on International Social Work came from China.

“Extracurricular international events and activities are important part of the student experience at MSASS,” Hokenstad said.

In the 1990s, the Mandel School helped build a social work program at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, during its era of social transition. It also included faculty exchanges, collaborative research and scholarship as part of the development of a doctorate program in social work.

Hokenstad said the work in Hungary could be a model for work in China.

“We look forward to building this relationship with Chinese universities,” Hokenstad said. “It builds on the university’s relationships with China in other areas and disciplines.”