Centers, Institutes and Projects

Center for International Social Work Studies

International Center logoThe Center for International Social Work Studies at the University of Connecticut, School of Social Work has been established to promote knowledge building and professional competence in international social work and human rights. The School of Social Work recognizes the growing importance of social work’s involvement in international problem solving and policy development. A global perspective on human needs, social policy, and practice interventions can best address the social problems of an increasingly interdependent world. While broadly focused on international knowledge related to social work and social development, the Center emphasizes the application of a global and human rights perspective to social workers’ practice in their own communities and internationally.


International Social Work: An Evening With Authors Lynne Healy and Rebecca Thomas

Joined by Louise Simmons, Ph.D., UConn School of Social Work professor of community organizing, and Jody Olsen, Ph.D., MSW, the most recent director of the Peace Corps (2018-Jan. 2021), the authors of the third edition of "International Social Work: Professional Action in an Interdependent World" engaged in a meaningful discussion about global social work and its impact on human rights and globalization.

About Director and Founder

Rebecca L. ThomasRebecca L. Thomas, PhD, PhD, Director


Rebecca L. Thomas, PhD, is the Director of the Center for International Social Work Studies and an Associate Professor of the Policy Practice concentration. She is appointed to the City of Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs and was the principal investigator for a 3 – year process and outcome evaluation, “Building Relations and Bridging Social Capital: An Inclusive Approach to Immigrant Civic Engagement within Libraries”. Rebecca teaches courses in program planning, international development, theory and practice and is currently co-teaching an on-line course entitled “Comparative Social Welfare Policy between United States and Armenia”. This course is a collaboration between UConn School of Social Work and Yerevan State University (YSU) in Armenia. She serves on the Global Affairs Advisory Board of the University of Connecticut, charged with the task of developing a strategic plan and proposing concrete strategies for deepening global education at the university. Recently, she was a Fellow in the Costa Rica Professional Women’s Empowerment Program sponsored by the Global Training and Development Institute of the University of Connecticut and funded by the U.S. Department of State.


Lynne HealyLynne M. Healy, PhD, Founding Director

Lynne M. Healy, MSW, PhD was the founding director of the Center for International Social Work Studies and served as Director from 1992-2012. She is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the School of Social Work. Among her important publications on international social work and human rights are: International Social Work: Professional Action in an Interdependent World (Oxford, 2008); Handbook of International Social Work: Human Rights, Development and the Global Profession (with R. Link, Oxford, 2012); Teaching Human Rights: Curriculum Resources for Social Work Educators (with M.C. Hokenstad & U. Segal, CSWE, 2013); a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education on globalization (with S. Gatenio-Gabel, 2012); and Advancing Human Rights in Social Work Education (CSWE, 2014, with K. Libal, R. Thomas & M. Berthold).  Dr. Healy retired in June of 2015.



International Field Placement

The School of Social Work has established relationships with Armenia/Yerevan State University and Jamaica/University of the West Indies. We continue to build partnerships in other countries through international exchange.

At times students request placement in a particular country of interest where the School of Social Work does not have established partnerships. Efforts may be made to accommodate these requests.  Successful placement is contingent on developing a working partnership with a School of Social Work in the country/region/city, or with an organization or agency that can support the student and meet their educational needs.  It is most helpful if an MSW-level social worker is available “on the ground” to supervise the student.

International Field Placement Fund

Students interested in participating in an international field placement are now able to apply for funding that will help with expenses. For more information, contact Marilyn Cardone.

Within the past several years, UConn School of Social Work has received an increase in student requests to do international field placements. Often students are unable to follow through due to financial constraints, which led to the development of a scholarship fund for students doing international field placements.

Dr. Lynne Healy (in conjunction with corporate matching) established a fund for international student placements. Dr. Healy has been an invaluable asset to the development of international social work as a discipline, and her expertise has been vital in making UConn one of the forerunners in international social work education.

The fund is not endowed; therefore, scholarship awards will range from $1500-2000, with student need being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Click here to make a donation to the fund.

International Focused Area of Study

The Focused Area in International Issues is designed for students who want to include a global perspective in their social work program. International issues specialization is useful for students considering careers in international development; work with immigrants, refugees, or inter-country adoption; advocacy work on global policy issues; and those who wish to broaden their domestic practice competence through understanding social issues internationally. Any student in the program is welcome to apply, including Advanced Standing students.

Before applying, please contact

Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work

The Humphreys Institute works to increase the political participation and power of all social workers and the communities they serve so public policy reflects our profession’s values and commitment to social justice. Our primary programming includes:

  • Nonpartisan voter engagement. We train all MSW students, agency field supervisors, community leaders and the profession on the importance of voter turnout to healthy communities, organizational mission and impact as well as specific ways to support clients and communities to vote. We are one of the founders of the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign and the website.
  • The Campaign School for Social Workers. We have trained more than 2,000 students & advocates to be leaders in policy and politics. They learn campaign strategy, how to use our Code of Ethics and values in politics, and engage in powerful discussions about race, representation and our role in supporting candidates who have been traditionally excluded from circles of power.

Additionally, we coordinate lobby days, participate in the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign and advocate for voting rights and access.

For more information, visit the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work webpage.



Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project

PRLSP logoThe Puerto Rican & Latin@ Studies Project (PRLSP) was founded in 1980 under the leadership of Dr. Julio Morales as a model program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The Project is unique because of its mission to advance the well-being of Latin@s through education, research and community engagement on local, national and global levels. It is one of the few Projects of its nature in schools of social work in the United States. The PRLSP has been referenced and used as a model in various arenas such as the Council on Social Work Education and different social work programs throughout the nation.

Mission and Goals

The Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project helps prepare social workers to competently serve individuals, groups, families, and organizations within Latin@ communities through research, teaching, and service; and to increase the advancement of knowledge and research regarding Puerto Rican and Latin@ matters.

Research and Innovation: To create distinctive and internationally recognized contributions to scholarship; and to address solutions for pressing issues affecting Puerto Ricans and Latin@s in Connecticut and globally.

Teaching and Learning: To increase Puerto Rican and Latin@’s recruitment, retention, and MSW and PhD degree completion. To train social workers and service providers.

Outreach and Engagement: To establish mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations with the Connecticut residents and agencies and institutions within Connecticut, and globally. Participate in community and interprofessional partnerships in order to promote the well-being and quality of life of Puerto Rican and Latin@ individuals, families, and communities. To engage with the PRLSP Advisory Board in an exchange of knowledge and in the collaboration of efforts on current issues affecting Puerto Rican and Latin@ communities.

Puerto Rico Exchange

Since 1999, the School of Social Work and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) have had a partnership that provides opportunities for faculty and student exchanges between the mainland US and San Juan and Vieques, Puerto Rico.  Students learn about the history of Puerto Rico and the traditional values/customs; to increase understanding of the social, economic, political, psychological and cultural dynamics that impact the lives of Puerto Ricans; and heighten awareness of migration patterns, cultural identity formation and the impact of colonization, oppression and racism on Puerto Ricans. The visit to Vieques, Puerto Rico, exposes students to human rights violations and social injustices occurring on the island.  When visiting UConn, the UPR students and faculty learn about social work practice with Puerto Rican migrants, their families and communities in the United States. Since then, alternating groups have participated in the exchange.

Next trip: May/June 2021