Category Archives: ethics

Indigenous Communities, Human Rights and Environmental (In)Justice

By Meschelle Linjean


Social workers are charged with advancing human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice. We advocate for the rights of vulnerable populations and against any policies, practices, and attitudes that jeopardize anyone’s life, liberty, and security of person. Grave social, economic, and environmental injustices take place in the name of corporate development and greed.


This blog post looks at the ways extractive industry development (e.g., oil and gas extraction, mining, logging) in Indigenous homelands in the Americas often result in displacement, poisoning and desecration of the land and water, and contributes to high rates of sexual assault, sex trafficking, and murder.  The beneficiaries are wealthy outsiders, corporations and shareholders. Deep ecology, ecofeminism, empowerment theory, and trauma-informed perspectives are all insightful lenses through which these outrages may be viewed, but this post’s perspective will use the frameworks of human rights, oppression and empowerment.


Historical trauma, gender-based violence

Historical trauma, devastating assimilation policies, and continuing oppression have rendered Indigenous communities in the U.S. extremely vulnerable to human rights violations, and disproportionately high rates of poverty and violence. Four out of five Indigenous persons have suffered a violent crime in their lifetime; four out of five perpetrators of this violence are non-Indigenous (Nagle and Steinem, 2016).  American Indian and Alaska Native women suffer sexual violence at the highest rate of any racial group, per capita, in the U.S. (Brewer, 2017).








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Sustainability and Social Work: Earth Day 2017

by Pat Shelly

Sustainability and Environmentalism

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This is an old Yankee/New England proverb that resounds with our more environmentally-conscious society today.

Sustainability is  a word that appears more frequently in the press around Earth Day, which is observed on April 22 in the US. Many slogans address environmental issues. Some instruct: “Reduce, Reuse, Recyle,” or humorously inform: “Recyclers do it over and over again,” or recommend:


Smiling man in baseball cap with arms hugging a big tree. Only one arm is visible as tree's circumference is too large to encircle with his arms. is too big to get

Photo: Carolina Hoyos Lievano / World Bank






“Hug a tree, they have fewer issues than people.”




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Cultural Humility: A Lesson Plan for Social Work

By Sarah Richards-Desai, MSW


The UB School of Social Work has developed a new resource to assist students, faculty, and practitioners in their understanding of cultural humility. Conversations about Culture: Video and Lesson Plan  introduces students, practitioners, and the public to the concept of cultural humility. This module includes a 12-minute video, containing interviews and content designed to raise questions and introduce the concept of cultural humility in social work. There are additional resources, a lesson plan, and some possible activities to try on your own or in a classroom setting.

Video for the UBSSW Cultural Humility module

Video for the UBSSW Cultural Humility module

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