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About the Special Commission

The Special Commission has been building a movement since its inception in the summer 2013 to redress the imbalance between macro and micro practice in our profession. The relatively low numbers of students being trained as macro social workers (community organizers, planners, developers, policy practitioners, administrators, managers, and leaders) threatened our profession's ability to shape public policy, social service provisions and community well-being. This is especially so today when we practice in a context greatly impacted by dramatically increased economic inequality and poverty, deteriorating police-community relations, institutional racism, sexual violence, xenophobia, and environmental degradation. 

The Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work is a collective of social work faculty, staff, and community- based professionals who seek to promote the visibility and importance of macro practice in the social work profession. The primary goal of the Special Commission is increasing national enrollment of MSW/ masters - level students in macro-specialized concentrations to 20% by the year 2020. A secondary goal is to ensure that the curricula of all BSW and generalist MSW programs include a more equitable balance of macro and micro content.

The Special Commission focuses on two major goals: 

One, by the year 2020, enrollment in macro specializations should increase to at least 20% of all MSW programs nationwide (that have a specialization or concentration), and Two, ensure that all BSW and advanced generalist MSW programs include robust macro content in the classroom and field, equitably bridging macro and micro curricula.  

What is "Macro Practice?"

"Macro practice," is a part of the social work field which emphasizes what could be called "big picture" responses to social justice problems. Where "micro" or "clinical social work" is  often with individuals and their immediate relationships, "macro social work" focuses on organizational -level, community-level, and policy-level interventions. While the Special Commission strongly believes that micro and macro practice are deeply interconnected and equally important for most effective social work practice, macro social work tends to be under-represented within the field.



The Special Commission was formed in 2013, in response to Jack Rothman's groundbreaking report (with Tracy Soska), "Education for Macro Intervention: A Survey of Problems and Prospects," often referred to as "The Rothman Report."  Released Fall 2012, The Rothman Report raised the level of awareness of macro social work as an essential form of practice, as well as a fundamental part of the field's history. One of Rothman's key recommendations was to establish a special blue-ribbon group to implement the Report's recommendations. ACOSA took up the call to initiate the Special Commission, with the collaboration of key leaders such as Loretta Pyles (SUNY Albany), Michael Reisch (University of Maryland at Baltimore), and Professor Linda Plitt Donaldson (Catholic University). The founders of the Special Commission called upon Dr. Darlyne Bailey, Professor and then Dean at Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and Dr. Terry Mizrahi, Professor at Silberman SSW at Hunter College, to become Co-Chairs of the Special Commission's Leadership Committee. The Special Commission has since grown to become a powerful collaboration of highly skilled, passionate, and creative individuals who remain deeply committed to working together to assure the inclusion of macro practice in the social work field.


Since its inception, the Special Commission's primary benchmark has been the "20 by 2020" Campaign, aspiring to increase national enrollment of macro social work students in MSW/ masters- level programs to 20 percent by the year 2020. The vision behind this goal is redressing the divide between micro and macro social work and improving social workers' abilities to influence and shape public policy, increasing their presence as leaders in social services administration, and enhancing their skills in promoting community well-being.  The Special Commission is also dedicated to championing the social work profession’s commitment to intersectional social justice, acknowledging the enduring significance of racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, ableism, ageism, and all other forms of institutional oppression.