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Home arrow Sociology arrow Holistic engagement : transformative social work education in the 21st century
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CONCLUSION

Traditional social work higher education and its professional organizations, such as the Council on Social Work Education in the United States and similar organizations in other countries, are arguably drifting away from their values around the dignity and worth of a person, empowerment, and social justice. Instead, they are emphasizing outcomes-oriented, competency-based education, adopting market values, and silencing the inherent interconnections among mind-body-spirit-environment (Barter, 2012; Coates, 2003; Jones, 2010; Reisch, 2013). Despite this harsh reality, there are many social work educators who are making significant strides to address the global social crises we are facing by educating social work students about globalization (Gatenio Gabel & Healy, 2012; Pyles, 2014) and the environment (Coates, 2003; Jones, 2010), teaching mind-body skills in the classroom (Christopher et al., 2006; Lynn, 2010), and fostering self-care practices with students (Shapiro et al., 2007; Vick-Johnson, 2010).

In this chapter, we made a case for the need for pedagogies of holistic engagement as we have offered our own analysis of the current global context and presented empirically driven data that support holistic educational methods. It is clear that the need for pedagogies of holistic engagement that value the whole selves of educators and students within the context of the environment that surrounds them is urgent. Although social work educators are appropriately concerned with the effects that our teaching will have on future clients and communities, the words of Wendell Berry are also worth remembering: “The thing being made in a university is humanity” (as cited in Palmer & Zajonc, 2010, p. 1).

This text seeks to articulate and analyze the creative ways that social work educators are teaching holistically, in a manner that “respects and cares for the souls” of students (hooks, 1994, p. 13). It also puts forth the authors' conceptualization of a transformational model depicting how holistic pedagogies fit within current social work education. The holistic engagement model demonstrates how social work education can grow toward viewing the role of the educator and the classroom differently. Together, the empirical call for transformation, the conceptual model of holistic engagement, and the real-time examples by faculty who are already employing holistic pedagogies create a compelling path forward for social work education.

 
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