photo: John Quinn M.C. "Terry" Hokenstad Jr.

Booming cities, burgeoning industry and dazzling architecture all illustrate China's ferocious growth in recent years.

Now add to those images expansion of a different sort: the country's plan to add more than 1 million social workers in tandem with the launch of 50 new graduate social work programs.

M.C. "Terry" Hokenstad Jr., PhD, a Case Western Reserve Distinguished University Professor, spearheads an effort to help China reach that goal. Hokenstad also is the Ralph S. and Dorothy P. Schmitt Professor in the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Since the death of Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1976, China has tried to catch up with its need for social workers. First undergraduate social work programs developed and flourished. More recently, the focus has moved to expanding the specialized knowledge that graduate social work programs can offer, Hokenstad said.

And that's where Case Western Reserve is having an impact, as Hokenstad; Grover C. Gilmore, PhD, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Dean in Applied Social Sciences and professor of psychology and social work; and Kathleen J. Farkas, PhD (WRC '73, GRS '84, social welfare), associate professor at the Mandel School, have traveled to Beijing and Xian, where they and other U.S. social work educators have provided advice and met with faculty from Chinese universities on the development of new graduate schools. Since 2012, a faculty member from Northwest University in Xian and two from Beijing Normal University have come to the Mandel School for a year of exposure to American social work education.

Hokenstad has been involved with international social work education for 40 years. In 2010, Chinese social work educators tapped him to bring his expertise to Beijing Normal, which was formulating a graduate social work program. Hokenstad has a track record in such work, including social work education initiatives in Sweden and Norway, as well as in Hungary and Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At Beijing Normal, he consulted with university personnel on curriculum development. When the university launched its graduate social work program in 2013, Hokenstad was a keynote speaker and now serves as a visiting faculty member.

Hokenstad said China's social work needs grew in tandem with the country's industrial expansion. As millions of young people abandoned rural villages to move to cities for jobs, they left behind aging parents and, sometimes, even their own children. The social upheaval exacerbated another growing social concern: China's rapidly aging population.

"Now, China is using U.S. expertise in preparing social workers to meet the human needs resulting from this demographic and social change," Hokenstad said. "They need programs to provide services to older people and to address how older people in villages maintain themselves."


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