School for Social Work Links with Asian Universities
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – When three Asian scholars arrived in the United States to spend the summer observing classes at the Smith College School for Social Work, they were greeted in a way that observed one of their own customs.
Dean Carolyn Jacobs hosted a dinner for the visitors at her home – a welcoming reception that reflected the way the Smith faculty would have been greeted if they were visiting academics in Hong Kong or Thailand.
Two of the visitors – Sha Wei and Li “Joyce” Jie – are doctoral students at the University of Hong Kong who are pursuing the goal of developing a clinical social work program at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Another, Preeyanuch Choktanawanich, is a faculty member at the School of Social Administration at Thammasat University – the only university in Thailand that grants master and doctoral degrees in social work.
“In and out of the classroom, there is much we can learn from each other,” said Jacobs. “Connecting with other scholars around the world and forging opportunities for our students and faculty will enrich the learning that happens here and abroad.”
This summer, the visiting academics are attending and auditing various courses in order to return to their countries to implement best practices. The Smith program is internationally recognized for its specialization in clinical social work, which is concerned with the interdependence between individuals and their environments.
Jacobs is now seeking to formalize ongoing partnerships, relationships that initially developed from interactions with individual faculty members.
Smith professors Josh Miller and Joan Berzoff collaborated with faculty at the University of Hong Kong to respond to the psychosocial needs caused by the devastation of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China. Last year, Jacobs spoke there about spirituality and clinical practice and education. And, associate professor Catherine Nye spent two months at Thammasat as part of her recent sabbatical.
Formal partnerships may take the form of field placements for Smith students interested in international practice, said Nye. Every Smith School for Social Work student is required to complete two 34-week field internships as part of their education.