University of Calgary

Spirituality in social work and education

UToday HomeDecember 4, 2012

A new book has opened what the authors call a timely and much needed dialogue between the disciplines of social work and education. “Spirituality in Social Work and Education” is broken into three sections to allow for dialogue between the authors ― John Graham, Janet Groen and Diana Cholic.

“This is an example of interdisciplinary scholarship ― tearing down traditional academic silos”, says John Graham, Murray Fraser Professor of Community Economic Development, Faculty of Social Work.

“Spirituality has become an important facet in social work’s knowledge over the past decade. It is vital to the histories and practices of both professions. Our book is the first major Canadian work in which the disciplines have come together to figure out what are the innovations in each, and how could we share mutually enriching insights,” continues Graham.

The first section is theoretical, the second focuses on the implications of incorporating spirituality into higher education, while the third discusses the implications of teaching from a spiritual perspective. Janet Groen, associate professor in Adult Learning, Faculty of Education believes the book has meaning for all levels of professionals, including students, practitioners and researchers.

“Part of the rational for bringing together scholars in education and social work stemmed from so many commonalities in our histories, values and areas of engagement with children, families, and communities,” says Groen.

“We also grappled with many of the same issues, including how to define spirituality, how integrate it into the classroom and how to make it meaningful for researchers, students and the professionals out in the field. Looking to the future, we hope the narratives offered by faculty members about their experiences in teaching and researching in spirituality, and the interdisciplinary collaborative process we used, will inspire new scholars to take up this important interdisciplinary work,” concludes Grown.

Diana Coholic is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Laurentian University.