The time is right for Social Workers to rise and meet the world’s needs

Thursday, Mar 10, 2022

By Dean Scott Ryan
School of Social Work


To say we are living in challenging times is an understatement. We are living in one of the most uncertain and difficult times in modern history. Most of us have never lived through a world war. In fact, many were born after the Cold War ended in 1989 and have never even imagined living through a world war. Today, however, we must face a reality: We are living amidst an escalating war that some foreign policy experts say could become a world war.

Russia is engaged in an all-out assault invading their neighboring country, Ukraine. So far, more than two million refugees have fled Ukraine for safer grounds.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, 549 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 957 injured since Feb. 24 when Russian military fighters crossed the border into Ukraine.

In addition to Ukraine, we must not forget there are other ongoing conflicts and refugee issues happening around the world in places such as Ethiopia, Myanmar, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and many other countries. This is OUR business. We must care. Social Workers must fight to minimize the human casualties, trauma, displacement and lack of resources that come with war and conflicts.

We must get involved. Many Social Workers are on the front lines providing aid and support for refugees, displaced families, disaster relief, and much more. Those of us who are not on the literal front lines still have a part to play in our own places and spheres of influence.

To be sure, the Russian initiated conflict with Ukraine comes at a time of major challenges for Social Workers worldwide, particularly health care Social Workers and those working with children, families and older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to wars, conflicts, refugees and COVID-19, we still have many domestic issues such as systemic racism, discrimination, health care disparities, domestic terrorism, police misconduct, LGBTQIA+ rights, as well as reproductive health care rights.

No doubt, Social Workers are exhausted. For more than two years, we have served families dealing with COVID-19 diagnoses and grief, while living our own personal experiences of the pandemic. We have done this while we continued providing more traditional Social Work services with children and families, older adults, the military and veterans. We have provided mental health and substance misuse services and supported patients and families in the health care/hospital setting.

All of this is a lot for Social Workers who, too often, are routinely overlooked as front-line workers. However, we are resilient. And together as a community we link arms as we play our parts in bringing more justice and hope to our world.

The theme for Social Work Month 2022 is “The Time is Right for Social Work.”

The time is right for Social Work because warfare, like a pandemic, produces chaos, loss, pain, confusion, and death, and we have the training and skillset to make a difference.

The time is right because Social Workers are now being recognized more as essential workers and leaders in communities, advocating on the behalf of disadvantaged and marginalized populations and helping to develop effective policies and programs.

The time is right because Social Workers are in demand and according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, “overall employment of Social Workers is projected to grow 12% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.”  Much of this growth will be in mental health, substance misuse, healthcare and school social work job areas.

The time is right for the UTA School of Social Work too.

Our new building is halfway complete and this time next year we are expected to be in the new building. Occupying our new building will help us strengthen our support not only for in-person students but also for our growing number of online students.

With the state-of-the-art technology, simulation practice clinics, digital media/video production studio and other resources being built in the new building, we will be able to better educate, train and connect our growing online programs. The new building and the technology will help us improve the interconnectivity of online students with their in-person counterparts such as both student populations being able to participate together in real-time interaction in our clinical practice courses.

With the recent addition of our Bachelor of Science in Substance Use and Treatment (BSSUT) major and six graduate certificate offerings (including the newest two – the Military Social Work Certificate and the Military, Veteran and Family Care Certificate), it is the right time for us and Social Work.

The time is also right for the School of Social Work with the recent approval of expanding our already top-ranked online programs to non-Texas residents matriculating online outside of the state of Texas. Our Bachelor of Social Work, new BSSUT major, new six graduate certificates, as well as our 13-year-old online Master of Social Work program are now also offered online to students residing in and outside the state of Texas.

Non-Texas resident online students are eligible to participate in the Non-Resident Online Distance Education (NRODE) program, which allows the non-resident portion of the tuition to be waived which significantly lowers the cost of completion of the program by as much as 50% for our online out-of-state undergraduate and graduate students. This will help the state of Texas, the country and our School meet the demand for more Social Workers.

We know the world is in need of contributions that only Social Workers can provide, and we are doing our part to meet that need, right now.

In the words of Maya Angelou, still, we must rise.


In solidarity,

Dean Scott Ryan

Scott D. Ryan
Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington


Join us for our events in March celebrating Social Work Month.


School of Social Work Annual Block Party
SSW Courtyard
Thursday, March 24, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. CST - In Person and Livestreamed
Join us on campus in the SSW Courtyard for lunch, games, and activities celebrating Social Work. Event will be in-person and livestreamed for our online students on our social media platforms.
If you are attending in-person, please RSVP.
To reserve a table for your student or campus organization, register here by March 21.



Social Work Takeover at the University Center Day
Addiction & Recovery Workforce Symposium
Tuesday, March 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST - In Person and Livestreamed
E.H. Hereford University Center


Continental Breakfast

Social Work Field Agency Day and Job Fair (in the morning)

Student Research Poster Display and Contest (in the morning)

Midday Keynote Speaker

Afternoon breakout sessions on a variety of topics

All events will be in-person in the University Center.  For 100% online students, Field Agency Day, Job Fair, Research Poster Contest, Keynote Speaker, and some afternoon breakout sessions will be livestreamed.  More information to follow but Save the Date and monitor our social media platforms. This event is supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).