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Dean’s Welcome

A Message from Dean Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD

The UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare is an international leader in producing new thinking and research about practices and policies that provide individuals and communities with the support and access necessary to develop to the fullest extent possible.

Here at the School we introduce social welfare to our undergraduate majors. We produce the future leaders of California’s and the nation’s social work profession in our Master's program and through our joint graduate degree programs in public health, public policy as well as in a pupil personnel services credential (PPSC) program. We mentor emerging social welfare scholars who come from around the globe to study in our doctoral program. Many of these PhD graduates go on to become eminent academics who, in turn, train the next generation of practitioners, policymakers and educators in the United States and abroad.

The future can be difficult to predict. I was an undergraduate social welfare major at UC Berkeley in the early 1970s – a period marked by anti-war protests, love-ins, People’s Park mass actions and the  national Watergate scandal. At age 20, I would have never dreamed that I would someday return to Haviland Hall to help lead this School in the coming decade. The great mentoring I received as an undergraduate set me on a career trajectory that defined my future work, and I feel very fortunate to return to Berkeley after a long hiatus.

Equally difficult to predict is what the next decade will bring for the social work profession and for public higher education. Certainly great change is afoot, and many people are feeling the unequal ways in which these developments are occurring. As social workers and social welfare scholars we have a responsibility to help shape these changes and, as our School’s mission states,  “transform the systems that perpetuate poverty and social disadvantage.” These disparities are now a part of our national dialogue, and we have a major role to play in pointing the way forward to a more just society.

This will likely be a decade of significant transition that disrupts many of our assumptions about how the future of our communities, our profession and even our own lives will unfold. While these disruptions will be painful, they also present an opportunity to rethink our approaches to social services, social change, higher education and scholarship. What better place to consider, study, gain new skills and help shape these changes than at UC Berkeley – a vibrant intellectual community that is the top public university in the world – and in the School of Social Welfare, which also consistently ranks among the top schools. 

I look forward to this journey together. Even in an unpredictable world we can work hard to help create maximum access for those among us who are often ignored, left behind or pushed out. By doing so we will build a better place to all live our lives.

Jeffrey Edleson, PhD
Dean and Professor