Abrams Elected to American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare Social Welfare Chair will be the first woman from UCLA to be inducted into the national honor society

By Zoe Day

Professor Laura S. Abrams, chair of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare, has been named a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW), a prestigious national society honoring excellence in the research and practice of social work.

Abrams will be the first woman from UCLA to be inducted into the academy, which currently recognizes 140 fellows.

“Entering my 20th year as a professor, I am honored to be included as a member of the AASWSW,” said Abrams, whose research broadly focuses on improving the well-being of youth and young adults with histories of incarceration.

“I hope to work with AASWSW to advance social work’s unique lens in addressing social inequities and injustices,” she said.

Established in 2010, the academy’s mission is to recognize and encourage premier scholars, practitioners and outstanding leaders in the social welfare field whose work contributes to a sustainable and equitable future.

The academy is the sponsoring organization for the Social Work Grand Challenges, an initiative to use science to champion social progress, and aims to influence policy by serving as a source of information for the social work profession.

Abrams joins UCLA Luskin Social Welfare Professor Ron Avi Astor, an internationally recognized expert on school safety, who was inducted into the academy in 2017.

“Being a member of the academy is the highest honor the profession can bestow on a scholar,” Astor said. “This is a great honor that is very well-earned.”

Election of fellows into the academy is by confidential nomination and confirmation by a supermajority of academy members. Abrams will be inducted at the Society for Social Work and Research conference in Washington, D.C., in January. Astor will give the induction speech at the conference.

Other fellows from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare include Distinguished Professor Emeritus Stuart A. Kirk (2010), Professor Emeritus James Lubben (2011), Professor Emeritus Robert Schilling (2011) and Professor Emeritus Yeheskel “Zeke” Hasenfeld (2013).

In addition to numerous peer-reviewed articles, Abrams is the co-author of two ethnographic books, including: “Compassionate Confinement: A Year in the Life of Unit C” and “Everyday Desistance: The Transition to Adulthood Among Formerly Incarcerated Youth.”

Abrams has contributed to the larger social work profession by serving on the editorial boards of Social Service Review, Qualitative Social Work and the International Journal of Social Welfare. She is former vice-chair of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work and former board-member-at-large for the Society for Social Work and Research.

Stuart A. Kirk

Stuart A. Kirk is a distinguished professor emeritus in Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles. He is interested in mental health policy and services, particularly the interplay of science, social values and professional politics in the evolution of mental health professions. In 9 books and 140 articles and chapters he examines how professions try to make clinical practice more scientifically based. Many of his articles were co-authored with doctoral students. In scores of articles and three co-authored books–The Selling of DSM, Making Us Crazy and Mad Science–he challenges the scientific claims made about the foundational document of the psychiatric enterprise, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) often called the “psychiatric bible.” His critical views have appeared in columns in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek Magazine.  Some of his books have been translated into French, Italian and Japanese.

After receiving his doctorate at Berkeley in 1973, Professor Kirk taught at the Universities of Hawaii, Kentucky and Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and at 35 was appointed Dean of the School of Social Welfare at the State University of New York at Albany (1980-88). He was a Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work (1988-94), before joining the Department of Social Welfare at UCLA as the first occupant of the Crump Endowed Chair. He directed the PhD program for eight years and chaired the Department for three years. He served on the editorial boards of many journals and as Editor-in-Chief (1992-96) of the NASW journal, Social Work Research.

Among his honors are the Doctoral Alumni award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship on the 50th anniversary of the School of Social Welfare at Berkeley (1994); an invitation from the Rockefeller Foundation to be a Scholar-in-Residence at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy (1995); a Book of the Year Award for Making Us Crazyfrom MIND, the largest non-profit mental health organization in the United Kingdom (2000); the annual award for Significant Lifetime Achievement from the Council on Social Work Education (2003); and induction as a Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, an honor society of distinguished scholars (2010).

He retired in 2012 and resides in Santa Fe, NM, where he has published a book and a series of magazine articles about his passion for motorcycling.

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

 

The Selling of DSM
Kirk, S.A. and H. Kutchins. The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science in Psychiatry. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter, 1992.

 

Social Work Research Methods
Kirk, S.A. (Ed.), Social Work Research Methods: Building Knowledge for Practice. Washington, D.C.: NASW Press, 1999.

 

Making Us Crazy
Kutchins, H. & S.A. Kirk. Making Us Crazy: DSM–the Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorder. NY: Free Press, 1997.

 

Science and Social Work
Kirk, S.A. & W.J. Reid. Science and Social Work: A Critical Appraisal. NY: Columbia University Press, 2002.

 

Mental Disorders in The Social Environment
Kirk, S.A. (Ed.), Mental Disorders in The Social Environment. NY: Columbia University Press, 2005

 

Mad Science

Kirk, S.A., D. Cohen, & T. Gomory. Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2013.

Two Faculty Books receive Honorable Mention for “Outstanding Social Work Book”

Two separate books by Social Welfare faculty members have been honored in the competition for the Society for Social Work and Research’s inaugural “Outstanding Social Work Book Award.”

Dr. Stuart A. Kirk, distinguished professor emeritus of Social Welfare, Dr. David Cohen, Professor of Social Welfare, Marjorie Crump and Dr. Tomi Gomory, Florida State University, received Honorable Mention for their book Mad Science: Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis, and Drugs.

Mad Science argues that much of modern American psychiatry’s claims are not based on convincing research, and provides a scientific and social critique of current mental health practices.

Dr. Laura S. Abrams, associate professor of Social Welfare and chair of the doctoral program, was recognized for her book Compassionate Confinement: A Year in the Life of Unit C, co-authored with Dr. Ben Anderson-Nathe of Portland State University,

Their book focuses on juvenile corrections, using narratives, observations and case examples from a year of fieldwork at a boy’s residential facility to highlight the system’s tensions and show unexpected pathways to behavior change.

Both works provide critical examinations of the history, institutions, and discourses involved in shaping institutional responses to some of the most pressing social problems.

SSWR is the leading academic and research organization in the field of social welfare. In conferring the award, the organization recognizes the “outstanding scholarly contributions that advance social work knowledge,” SSWR President Eddie Uehara said.

The awards will be formally presented at the SSWR annual meeting in New Orleans this January.