SOURCE: Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis

September 16, 2016 12:05 ET

"Social Innovation for America's Renewal" Conference Takes on Nation's "Grand Challenges"

Leaders Set out Broad Policy Agenda for the Country

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - September 16, 2016) - More than 250 experts, advocates, and leading academics from all over the United States this week converged on the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, outlining a comprehensive range of solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the nation and the next administration.

The conference, "Social Innovation for America's Renewal," and its workgroups have developed evidence-based policy recommendations for the 12 Grand Challenges identified by the American Academy of Society Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW).

More than 50 tested policy recommendations have been proposed to address such Grand Challenges as stopping family violence, reducing extreme economic inequality, advancing long and productive lives, and promoting smart decarceration, among others. Together, the 12 Grand Challenges focus on improving individual and family well-being, strengthening the social fabric, and helping to create a more just society.

Today's eminent speakers include Mark H. Greenberg, acting assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Administration for Children and Families, and Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and senior fellow the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The conference will be live-streamed from 8 AM to about noon Central Standard Time. Please see this webpage for the link.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) provided a video to welcome and encourage attendees.

"This conference is very much oriented toward getting ideas and evidence out into the world," said Michael Sherraden, PhD, director of the Center for Social Development and the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor at the Brown School. "In each group, there are people who have been working in these areas for most of their career. Our experience is when you have good evidence it's much easier to have a productive discussion about policy."

AASWSW President Richard P. Barth, PhD, said he is excited about the timing of the Grand Challenges. "People seem to understand now how important the social environment is," he said. Barth is dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

In a speech Thursday, Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, discussed how ideas and evidence can become policy. "The real art of policy impact lies in anticipating a political moment, and having your idea, framing and evidence ready to go," he said.

Brown School Dean Mary M. McKay said, "This isn't a conference that is passive. It's an active working meeting." She urged participants to partner with communications experts and to consider how to more effectively and rapidly translate research findings.

"In order to accomplish these Grand Challenges, we're going to have to up our game," said Angelo McClain, chief executive officer of the National Association of Social Workers. The Grand Challenges initiative is an opportunity for social workers to have a great collective impact, he said. "We can do far, far more together than we can think about doing on our own."

Major institutional sponsors of the conference include the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare, Washington University in St. Louis, Brookings Institution, Society for Social Work and Research, Fund for Social Policy Education and Practice, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

University schools of social work sponsors include the following: Washington University in St. Louis, George Warren Brown School of Social Work; University of Southern California, School of Social Work; University of Washington, School of Social Work; University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration; University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work; University of Maryland, School of Social Work; University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work; University of Michigan, School of Social Work; Boston University, School of Social Work; University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice; Boston College, School of Social Work.

About the Grand Challenges
The Grand Challenges for Social Work is a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. Led by the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare (AASWSW), it's a call to action for all of us to work together to tackle our nation's toughest social problems. The Grand Challenges initiative actively engages leaders from a wide range of disciplines and sectors, including technology, medicine, government, and business to achieve its ultimate goals of promoting individual and family well-being, a stronger social fabric, and a just society. To learn more, please visit http://aaswsw.org/grand-challenges-initiative/12-challenges.

The conference will be live-streamed on Friday; see this webpage for the link.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Neil Schoenherr | Senior News Director
    Office of Public Affairs
    Washington University in St. Louis
    nschoenherr@wustl.edu
    (o) 314.935.5235 | (c) 314.239.9734