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.


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, Jamaica/University of the West Indies, and South Africa/University of Cape Town. We continue to build partnerships 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. View International Field Placement Guidelines and Application.  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.

Recently, 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. Dr. Robin Spath, who also had corporate matching for her donation, recently expanded the fund.

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

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 Practice

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. The Institute urges all social workers to re-examine their attitudes toward politics, their role in empowering their clients and communities to be politically active and their personal commitment to integrate political action into their practice.

In addition to training social workers to run for office, the Humphreys Institute is training social workers to engage their clients and communities to vote by integrating nonpartisan voter engagement into social service delivery and organizational culture.



About Director and Founder

Tanya Rhodes SmithTanya Rhodes Smith, MSW, is the Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work and a faculty member in the Policy Practice concentration. She has overseen the expansion of the Institute's Campaign School for Social Workers to schools across the country, led the development of nonpartisan voter engagement training models for schools of social work and social service agencies and supports the idea that political empowerment and voting are central to all social work practice and impact.

(959) 200-3631




Nancy A. Humphreys, DSW, ProfessorNancy A. Humphreys, DSW, founded the Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work in 1995 to investigate ways that social workers can facilitate the political empowerment of clients as well as increase the number of social workers who are directly involved with electoral politics. Dr. Humphreys has a long and accomplished professional history. Her academic work has left an indelible mark, both here in the United States and abroad. She served as dean of two schools of social work, Michigan State University and University of Connecticut. Beginning in 1991, Dr. Humphreys worked with what is now the Republic of Armenia to establish social work education in that country. The result of her efforts is a BSW and MSW program at Yerevan State University.

Campaign School for Social Work

Campaign-School-CroppedTeaching social workers how to run for elected office, working on campaigns and serving as advocates.

Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2, 2019
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Nonpartisan Voter Engagement

Training students, faculty, and communities on the importance of voting and how to effectively integrate voter engagement into service delivery and organizational culture. We believe that all social workers must come to understand and embrace the essential connection between civic participation and individual and community health, and work to integrate voter engagement with their professional practice.

Voter Engagement Training for Schools of Social Work

In 2015, the Humphreys Institute launched a pilot voter education program at the Schools of Social Work at the University of Connecticut and the University of Nevada, Reno. The work of the program centers on the development and research of educational pathways that lead to the integration of voter engagement and education practice into the core curricula and methods-based education in schools of social work. Through intensive training in nonpartisan voter engagement students develop an understanding of voting as being foundational to our professional commitment to social justice and the solving of social work’s ‘grand challenges.’ An important component of the program is the addition of nonpartisan voter engagement practice to field education, supported through training designed for field supervisors and faculty, as well as students.

Our goal is to transform social service delivery as well as community culture through the integration of voter engagement with social work practice. The Humphreys Institute provides training materials and consultation for schools that wish to add the HI voter education program to their curriculum.


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.