Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Ecological Social Work

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CSU Social Work staff and students on practicum in India

CSU social work academics are involved in a wide range of research projects related to ecology and the environment.

Their research includes projects and publications related to the social impacts of climate change, eco-feminist perspectives, expanding the domain of social work to include environmental factors, curriculum development, ethical considerations, and post-conventional approaches to social work practice.

A CSU research centre, the Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS), through its Environmental Justice and Governance for Social Change strategic research area, supports the research of the social work group in this field.


Cultural Change Through Carbon OffsetsGreen Social Work


  • Bill Anscombe (School of Humanities and Social Science, Wagga)
  • Karen Bell (School of Humanities and Social Science, Wagga)
  • Heather Barton (School of Humanities and Social Science, Wagga)
  • Heather Boetto (School of Humanities and Social Science, Wagga)
  • Linda Rust (CSU Global, Albury-Wodonga)
  • Paul McLeod (CSU Global, Wagga)

Amount awarded: $6,721.16

Project summary: This project aims to pro-socially model environmentally responsible global citizenship through carbon offsetting the international travel of a CSU Social Work facilitated, two week study abroad program to India.

The project will promote sustainability in higher education and take concrete steps to put theories into action and to promote sustainability in higher education, as per the Tailloires Declaration to which CSU is a signatory.

Specifically, the project will increase environmental awareness for staff and students and a commitment to environmentally responsible citizenship at local and global levels. CSU Social Work academics, divisional staff (CSU Global and CSU Travel) and students will work collaboratively towards carbon neutrality, as per the CSU Green Institutional Development Plan.

In summary, the project objectives are:

  • Action at the local level to offset the carbon emitted as a result of air travel to India
  • Cultural change at school and organisational level of  CSU via collaboration between academics, CSU Global and CSU Travel staff, as well as students for educational initiatives that encourage environmentally responsible global citizenship with carbon neutral international travel;  and
  • The development of a consistent, CSU- wide carbon calculator. In 2011, CSU total air miles equated to 27,867,678 for a total of 782.6484 tonne of carbon. This is using the Voyager Travel figures and carbon calculator. On the one hand, at the Commonwealth Carbon price of $23/tonne, this would equate to $18001 to be carbon neutral. This part of the project would aim to develop a proposal for SEG that would assess the merits and assumptions of various carbon calculators (eg ICAO, Greenfleet, Voyager Travel calculator) and then decide upon a consistent measure for the University. It would also consider the policy considerations for off-setting (eg a levy against travellers based on air kilometres, paying a commercial levy, developing a CSU demonstration carbon sink).
Details of the implementation of the project

Objective: Academics have been concerned that the trip produces about 35-60 tons of carbon with no off-sets. This seems contrary to the notion of global community development and responsible global citizenship. Having used the ICAO carbon emission calculator (and a Greenfleet calculator) and having had contact with the Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, we want to plant trees on campus that will off-set that footprint and ensure that the program is carbon neutral. This fits with Criteria 1 (to be greenhouse neutral by 2015) and to co-operate with communities towards sustainability.

Objective: The School of Humanities and Social Science is the largest school in the Faculty of Arts and Education. The Social Work and Human Services discipline is the largest part of the school with over 2000 students. The School has never had a CSU Green grant but has about 1 in every 15-20 CSU students. By using a dedicated  Green Social Work Interact site for students to voluntarily engage in educative online workshops about global citizenship, sustainability, environmental social work and human rights we will promote consilient approaches and explore the linkage between the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and sustainability. This will lift our performance in achieving the sustainability requirements of the University (an area that we did poorly on in our ACPR) and drive culture change in both the School of Humanities and Social Science and in CSU Global\ and CSU Travel.

Objective:  CSU Travel will assess the current flight kilometres used via some of the publicly available calculators. They would also assess what current contribution is being made to carbon neutrality (e.g. levies already paid) and assess the differentials. They would advise SEG on the most appropriate way to meet carbon neutrality by 2015 in respect of air kilometres (e.g. cash contribution; the distribution of costs; the development of sustainable timber sinks etc). It is anticipated that this may involve changing forms (such as CSU Global forms and Travel forms) to highlight the carbon cost of travel as well as developing the appropriate carbon off-sets.


Researcher Research interests

Karen bell

Karen Bell

Karen has a particular interest in post-conventional social work theory in the context of gender, social justice and the environment and has publications in this area. Karen is also involved in research projects focusing on ecological social work education, sustainable international study programs and global citizenship.

 Heather Boetto

Heather Boetto

Heather has a research interest in ecological social work, and has published research specifically in areas of environmental social work theory, gender and climate change, and environmental curriculum development.  Heather is currently involved in projects that are focusing on the relationship between social work values and the environment, and study abroad programs that model environmentally responsible global citizenship.


Jennifer McKinnon


Jenny has been researching and teaching in the field of environmental social work since 1995.  She has a number of publications and given many conference presentations on this topic. Jenny's PhD thesis is titled 'Towards a new consciousness of 'environment' for the social work profession: perceptions of a sample of environmentally-conscious social workers in Australia', and she is particularly interested in how social workers incorporate environmental concerns into their practice.

Jenny was sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Education at Charles Sturt University to undertake a research fellowship in 2012, principally to further research environmental social work issues. She is currently working (with colleagues) on a project to study the Australian Association of Social Workers' code of ethics as it relates to environmental social work.

Ndungi Wa Mungai

Ndungi Mungai

Ndungi has an interest in the role of culture and self-knowledge in the protection of the environment and community development.

Manohar Pawar

Manohar Pawar

Dr. Manohar Pawar is  professor of social work at the school of Humanities and Social Sciences, Charles Sturt University (NSW Australia) and  is the president of the Asia-Pacific branch of the International Consortium for Social Development. He has 30 years of experience in social work education, research and practice in Australia and India.  Professor Pawar has received a number of awards, including the recent citation award for outstanding contributions to student learning (2008, from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council); and Quality of Life Award (2001, from the Association of Commonwealth Universities). Current areas of interest include international social work, development and social policy, social consequences of climate change and water, social work education, informal care and ageing, NGOs and community development. In his International Social Work book, an ecological perspective forms a significant part of the integrated perspectives approach for international social work practice, which is adopted as international social work text in many countries.

Fredrik Velander

Fredrik Velander


Fredrik's area of interest in environmental social work is mental health and how an  individual's mental health is affected by changes in our physical environment, either through planned change (city/community planning or organisational change) or through unplanned change (catastrophic weather events and climate change). This area of interest has grown out of the acknowledgement that the environment and individual is inherently intertwined with each other and how a mismatch between the environment and the individual's capacity to cope results in deteriorating mental health status.

For the past 15 years Fredrik has been directly and/or indirectly involved in mental health research and this work has led him to work in projects in Scandinavia and Australia and to develop a broad network of contacts internationally.