World map and continents

The Center for International Social Work Studies

The Center for International Social Work Studies at the UConn School of Social Work was established in 1992 to promote knowledge building and professional competence in international social work and human rights. The School of Social Work recognizes the growing importance of social work’s involvement in international problem solving and policy development. A global perspective on human needs, social policy, and practice interventions can best address the social problems of an increasingly interdependent world. While broadly focused on international knowledge related to social work and social development, the Center emphasizes the application of a global and human rights perspective to social workers’ practice in their own communities and internationally.

The Center puts this philosophy into practice by:

  • Encouraging the integration of global perspectives and internationally related content in social work courses and by offering a Focused Area of Study in International Issues in Social Work
  • Facilitating faculty research and publications on international issues
  • Encouraging student, faculty, staff and practitioner participation in international seminars, courses, exchanges, field placements and other activities
  • Promoting human rights education and research
  • Promoting cross-cultural competence, and
  • Entering into exchange and linkage arrangements with schools of social work in other countries as well as international organizations to further these purposes.

About Our Director and Our Founder

Professor and Director of CISWS Rebecca Thomas

Rebecca L. Thomas, Ph.D., Director

Rebecca L. Thomas, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for International Social Work Studies, Professor at the School of Social Work, and teaches Policy Practice concentration courses as well as International Focused Area of Study courses. Thomas was recently awarded the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Award and she will be working at the New Bulgaria University in Sofia on initiatives with implications for program evaluation, research, policy, and organizational development.  She is the representative for the International Association of the Schools of Social Work (IASSW) at the United Nations and works at the UN’s NGO Committee on Migration. Thomas is a board member of the CSWE Katherine A. Kendall Institute for International Social Work and coordinates a joint academic program exchange between UConn and Yerevan State University in Armenia. Her current research and scholarship includes issues related to micro-credit, remittances, international developmental, poverty, and climate induced migration.

Founding Director Lynne Healy

Lynne M. Healy, Ph.D.
Founding Director

Lynne M. Healy, MSW, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Center for International Social Work Studies and served as director from 1992-2012. She is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the School of Social Work. Among her important publications on international social work and human rights are: “International Social Work: Professional Action in an Interdependent World” (Oxford, 2008); “Handbook of International Social Work: Human Rights, Development and the Global Profession” (with R. Link, Oxford, 2012); “Teaching Human Rights: Curriculum Resources for Social Work Educators” (with M.C. Hokenstad & U. Segal, CSWE, 2013); a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education on the topic of globalization (with S. Gatenio-Gabel, 2012); and “Advancing Human Rights in Social Work Education” (CSWE, 2014, with K. Libal, R. Thomas & M. Berthold). Dr. Healy retired in June of 2015.