Stuart A. Kirk is a distinguished professor emeritus in Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles. His research critically examines the conventional wisdom of the helping professions, focusing on the interplay of science, social values and professional politics to illuminate the evolution of professional beliefs and practices. For example, he has written extensively about the effectiveness of attempts by the profession of social work to make practice more scientifically based, summarized in the co-authored book with William J. Reid, Science and Social Work: A Critical Appraisal, 2002. Professor Kirk has been particularly interested in mental health policy, politics and services. In scores of articles and three co-authored books (The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry, 1992; Making Us Crazy: DSM-- The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders, 1997; and Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis and Drugs, 2013) he traces the evolution and challenges the underlying assumptions and scientific claims of the guiding document of the psychiatric enterprise, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
A psychiatric social worker early in his career, Professor Kirk served on President Carter's Commission on Mental Health Task Panel on Deinstitutionalization, Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care, and evaluated programs serving those with severe behavioral problems in several states. He served as Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York at Albany (1980-88) and a Professor (1988-94) at Columbia University School of Social Work, before joining the Department of Social Welfare at UCLA, where is served as Director of the PhD program for eight years and as Chair of the Department for three years. He retired in 2012.
He served on the editorial boards of many journals and as Editor-in-Chief (1992-96) of the NASW journal, Social Work Research. He has published nine books, many chapters, and over a 100 articles in social welfare, psychology, psychiatry and other journals. In 2003, he received the annual award for Significant Lifetime Achievement from the Council on Social Work Education. In 2010, he was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, an honor society of distinguished scholars.