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  • Writer's pictureJenna Rines

Expanding into a vision of Ecological Justice

Moving forward, you may notice something different in our logo and messaging:

We're excited to announce that the ISWEJ, although keeping its initials, is switching out the 'Environmental Justice' for 'Ecological Justice'.

What is ecological justice?

Although it may seem like a subtle change of words, the shift to ecological justice is a big and intentional move. Environmental justice is centred on a person-centric experience of the world around us and is grounded in human priorities and rights. Ecological justice expands beyond this to place "emphasis on justice for the entire ecological system and future generations" (Powers et al., 2019).

Included in this vision of justice is the rights of animals, plants, and other living beings and ecosystems that we may often refer to as 'nature', but that humans are very much a part of (Ross, 2019; Närhi & Matthies, 2016; Miller et al., 2012).

It also acknowledges the difficult reality that "If the ecosystem collapses, humans may not survive", reinforcing the need to think beyond the dominant (and destructive) narrative of a false separation from our natural world (Rambaree et al., 2019; Miller et al., 2012).

"From the ecocritical viewpoint, social work should be able to define a kind of justice that concerns the entire world, the planet, and not just people." - Närhi & Matthies, 2016

Why the switch?

This is not to say that ecological justice is superior or a nobler cause than environmental justice; on the contrary, we need people of all backgrounds working on visions of both. As an organization and institute, we have been considering and reflecting on our values and desired contribution. As we have been learning and connecting with other social workers and colleagues, we realized that ecological justice fit better with where we wanted to go.

Our intersecting global crises demand a birds eye view, and one that includes consideration for the interconnected beings and systems on this planet. We also want to ensure continuity as we grow in our community and organization in a way that encompasses a wider lens and worldview.

What do you think of our switch? Reach out to us on Twitter (@theISWEJ) or using this form - we would love to hear your thoughts! Stay tuned for an announcement about how to get more involved with the ISWEJ coming soon!

Thanks for reading! During this difficult time, please consider making a donation through initiatives like Another Gulf is Possible to offer support to those impacted by Hurricane Ida.

References & Further Reading:

Besthorn, F. (2013). Radical equalitarian ecological justice: A social work call to action. In M. Grey, J. Coates, & T. Hetherington (Eds.), Environmental Social Work (pp. 31-45). London: Rouledge.

Besthorn, F., Koenig, T., Spano, R., & Warren, S. (2016). A critical analysis of social and environmental justice: Reorienting social work to an ethic of ecological justice. In R. Hugman & J. Carter (Eds.), Rethinking values and ethics in social work (pp. 146-163). London: Palgrave.

Jones, P. (2010). Responding to the ecological crisis: Transformative pathways for social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 67-84.

Miller, S. E., Hayward, R. A., & Shaw, T. V. (2012). Environmental shifts for social work: A principles approach. International Journal of Social Welfare, 21(3), 270-277.

Närhi, K., & Matthies, A. L. (2018). The ecosocial approach in social work as a framework for structural social work. International Social Work, 61(4), 490-502.

Powers, M. C., Rambaree, K., & Peeters, J. (2019). Degrowth for transformational alternatives as radical social work practice. Critical and Radical Social Work, 7(3), 417-433.

Rambaree, K., Powers, M. C., & Smith, R. J. (2019). Ecosocial work and social change in community practice. Journal of Community Practice, 27(3-4).

Ross, D. Y. A. N. N. (2019). Practising community and dialogical communities of practice for ecological justice and loving relationships. Australian Journal of Community Work, 1(1-13).

Ross, D., Bennett, B., & Menyweather, N. (2020). Towards a critical posthumanist social work: Trans-species ethics of ecological justice, nonviolence and love. In Post-Anthropocentric Social Work (pp. 175-186). Routledge.

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