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Exploring the relationship between contemporary environmental concerns and social work

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Ref: SHLS20021 Webb

It is clear from current evidence that contemporary environmental challenges impact disproportionality on those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Following this there is growing international interest in the ways in which environmental degradation through climate change, use of chemicals and various forms of pollution impact on people who use social services (Lynch, 2019). Much of the limited scholarship on social work and environment has come from outside of Europe (Bowles et al, 2018). Research which seeks to understand and theorise the relationship between contemporary environmental concerns and social work in the UK is limited. There is however a growing interest in this area in the UK and beyond (Dominelli & Abye, 2014). There are various seams of enquiry which will contribute to this field, these require innovative and critical interdisciplinary thought that challenges the humanist premise of social work (2019a, 2020). Possible questions include: What environmental concerns have relevance to social work service users and professionals across and within specific contexts? What forms of engagement afford a deeper understanding of social work service users/professionals understanding of environmental issues? How might awareness of environment inform social work practice?

Research proposals for this focus will require an innovative and interdisciplinary approach that has an orientation to the fields of social theory and practice; environmental science and philosophy. This doctoral research will contribute to an international knowledge base which has growing potential for impact (Lynch, 2020). It will also contribute to GCU strategic interests in sustainability, inclusive societies, social innovation and community and public engagement.

The successful applicant will be a qualified to degree level in a relevant. The minimum of a first degree (2:1 or above) is required. A masters level qualification is desirable as is previous research experience. Candidates from a range of backgrounds including, social work, environmental studies and arts practice will be considered. The successful applicant will have experience of developing innovative approaches to engaging communities and publics. They will also demonstrate an understanding of the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary research.


Bowles, W., Boetto, H., Jones, P., & Mckinnon, J. (2018). Is social work really greening ? Exploring the place of sustainability and environment in social work codes of ethics. International Social Work, Vol. 61(4) 503–517
Dominelli, L and T Abye (2014) “Promoting Environmental Justice through Green Social Work Practice: A Key Challenge for Practitioners and Educators.” International Social Work 57.4: 338–345
Lynch H (2019) Esposito’s Affirmative Biopolitics in Multispecies Homes, European Journal of Social Theory 22 (3) 364 - 381
Lynch H (2019a) Toward a multispecies home: bedbugs and the politics of non-human relations, in The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work edited by S Webb, London, Routledge
Lynch, H (2020) More than human Community Work in Post Anthropocentric Social Work edited by Pease and Bozalek, London, Routledge.

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