Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Social Service Review







Publisher Name

University of Chicago Press

Publisher Location

Chicago IL


Social work has traditionally been concerned with the welfare of humans, a mission that some scholars want to expand to include other beings. How can concern for nonhumans and the natural environment best be integrated with the profession’s commitment to social justice? Although commentators have made several proposals, few have critically examined the dilemmas or trade-offs that may await a more expansive social work. Examining such challenges in environmental movements past and present, we identify three logics by which some varieties of environmentalism have perpetuated inequity among humans. We then explore how diverse movements for environmental justice—which make equity among humans central to environmental activism—offer a path forward. Environmental justice foregrounds dilemmas raised by integrating concern for humans and nonhumans, and it offers principles for addressing these dilemmas that are rooted in a living tradition of practice. This makes environmental justice the best paradigm for environmental social work.


Author Posting. © The University of Chicago Press, 2023. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the University of Chicago Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Social Service Review, Volume 97, No. 3, September 2023.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Sunday, September 01, 2024