Unless you’ve taken one of the many social work degrees and know how vast this industry can be, it’s likely you’ve never heard of green social work. And, I wouldn’t blame you for hearing the term ‘green’ and meeting it with some skepticism. After all, a lot of careers that claim to be green are purely touting themselves as that while hiding a toxic underbelly. However, I can honestly tell you that green social work is exactly what it claims to be, and in this article I’ll explain where you might interact with these social workers in real life.
One of the main areas that green social workers work in are disaster zones. Every time a national disaster happens on US soil, you won’t just see emergency personnel arriving, you’ll also see social workers. They fill the need for ‘people management’ while many others are purely looking at the finances. By providing aid to those who need it most, those with a social work masters are responsible for setting up shelters, addressing poverty, and building relationships with local families.
Many social workers will even arrive at disaster zones before a problem hits. For example, if a hurricane is predicted to hit the east coast of Florida, green social workers will arrive on the scene as early as possible to help get families with disabilities and other disadvantaged people to safety before the hurricane hits.
In addition to disaster zones, many green social workers also work in local areas in enforcing environmental laws and policies. Many communities in the United States experience problems, and there are many barriers in place that prevent people from getting the help that they need. Whether it’s helping veterans suffering with PTSD or helping communities to access environmental and health data, social workers are often active members of disadvantaged communities.
In the past, many environmental issues were lumped into an ‘organizational dysfunction’ category even though the issues widely varied. According to experts, though, it is clear that health and environmental concerns cannot be lumped into one broad category, and green social workers are helping with this.
When we think about refugees, we tend to think about people who have fled their own countries due to war or political issues. And it seems our government thinks the same thing, as laws and regulations are in place to help these kinds of refugees. However, one type of refugee you may not have considered is the environmental refugee. Environmental refugees lose their homes due to floods, droughts, deforestation etc. There are no official regulations to help this kind of refugee, so again social workers step in to help the people in need.
Those with a masters in social work are also likely the people that you will see trying to shed light on this problem, and encouraging others to talk about it.
Although you may not have heard of social workers before reading this article, the work that they do is invaluable here in the United States.