Lynsey Ellis

Doctor of Philosophy, (Social Work)
Study Completed: 2020
College of Health


Thesis Title
Sustainable social work: a response to the climate emergency from social work education and practice in Aotearoa New Zealand

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The impacts of climate change exacerbate inequities across society. Social workers throughout Aotearoa therefore need to better understand the relevance of climate change impacts on their work, support those most exposed in the community, and prepare for a resilient future. Ms Ellis used an educational ‘action research’ approach to engage social workers, students, and educators in transformative learning about the impacts of the climate emergency. She used three action research cycles – educational workshops, individual interviews and focus groups – to identify future social workers’ educational and support needs. She produced a working definition of 'Sustainable Social Work', an educational framework for the social work curriculum, and a 'Model of Sustainable Action'. Each creates a practice-based response to the climate emergency underway in Aotearoa.

Professor Kieran O'Donoghue
Associate Professor Ksenija Napan


Key outputs anticipated at this stage are:

·       The development and delivery of an education workshop influenced by international literature and in collaboration with social work educators, practitioners, managers and student using the action reflection cycle of action research.

·       An investigation of the training need for social workers on sustainability and climate change issues in New Zealand

·       Identification of education available on sustainability and climate change in the social work sector in New Zealand.

·       Highlight examples of international best practice in delivery of sustainability and climate change in social work education.

·        A completed PhD thesis.