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In July, Fei Sun and Robin Bonifas, professors in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University (ASU), visited universities in Central China to deliver a two-week social work education exchange program.

The project was part of the China Collaborative Initiative launched by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) in the U.S. In collaboration with the China Association of Social Work Education (CASWE), CSWE selected seven American universities including ASU, University of Chicago, Case Western Reserve University, University of Huston, University of Southern California, Fordham University and University of Alabama, and matched them with social programs in seven regions in China. The goal was to strengthen graduate-level social work programs in these regions.

ASU’s School of Social Work partnered with 10 programs in four central provinces in China that have a combined population over 268 million.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), a university that has a long standing relationship with ASU, is the hub university that coordinates the exchange between the School of Social Work and other schools. Here, Sun and Bonifas met with JianDing Ding, department head of the School of Social Work at HUST and director of the China initiative on behalf of the Chinese schools, to exchange ideas about future collaboration.

Earlier this year, a delegation of eight Chinese social work scholars from the region visited the School of Social Work at ASU. Upon their invitation, Sun and Bonifas paid a reciprocal visit to two schools in this region in July.

As part of their trip, Sun and Bonifas visited the Henan University of Economics and Law (HUEL) to provide a one-week workshop on medical and gerontological social work.

Bonifas covered the development of medical social work in the U.S., the psychosocial aspects of illness and disability and their impact on families, and brief intervention methods used in medical social work, as well as diverse strategies for teaching this content. Sun introduced major settings for gerontological social workers in the U.S., various assessment and interventions with older adults, and aging policies and programs in the U.S.; in addition, he demonstrated key teaching approaches.

Both faculty members spent time discussing with students how to apply social work practice in the Chinese society. A total of 56 participants from 19 different social work schools and three social service agencies attended this workshop. Participants provided very positive feedback regarding this learning experience. In particular, they reported learning many new ways of engaging students in learning such as use of role play, mock interviews and small group discussion in the classroom.

Sun and Bonifas then went to the Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE), where they presented their latest research findings to social work faculties.  Bonifas presented her research on peer bullying in late life and Sun talked about caregiving stress and coping in Alzheimer’s disease family caregivers.

Jinfa Jiang, vice president of JUFE overseeing international collaboration, showed very strong interest in furthering student-exchange and degree programs with ASU during the meetings with Sun and Bonifas. 

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