Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.
Social work has a long tradition of being explicitly concerned with the ‗person-in-environment‘, recognising the need to take account of context when working to address disadvantage and maximise wellbeing. This concern with environment, and indeed with the concept of sustainability has, however, been focused primarily on the social rather than the ecological (Coates 2003; Besthorne & McMillen 2002). At a time when increasing attention is being paid to the importance of promoting education about, and for, sustainability in higher education (Sipos, Battisti & Grimm 2008; Wright 2002; Thomas 2004), the social work profession also needs to begin engaging in a more holistic and integrative manner with issues of sustainability and our relationship to the nonhuman world. This paper reports on a course offering in a social work degree program that encourages students to consider the arguments for an expanded ecological awareness and its place in social work theory and practice. Through a critical examination of the modernist foundations of the profession and an emphasis on the development of ecological literacy, the course focuses on the ways in which such an approach might manifest in practice at the community level.