Sustaining Communities in Work, Education, and Health

Contributions within an ecological framework

Date: October 11, 2010

The sobering realities of the 21st century have opened the eyes of many to the urgent need to support sustainable communities in the areas of work, education and health. Scholars and practitioners both have widely acknowledged the existence of multiple realms of influence upon individuals, families, and communities. The contributions of the Ecological Model, Feminist analyses, Critical Theory and Liberation Psychology have changed the way social scientists and other practitioners and theorists conceptualize social issues and inequities. We realize that to accomplish this work, we must foster intensive and integrative interdisciplinary cooperation in order to engage in a critical analysis of the structural forces that perpetuate and reinforce the same problems and inequities.

This conference addressed the importance of supporting sustainable communities in the basic areas that affect the quality of all our lives. We are clearly aware of the need for effective systemic change and the application of interventions that stretch beyond the reach of mainstream social services and simultaneously consider the roles of race, class, ethnicity, social and sexual identity. When challenged to consider all this we may feel excitement, apprehension and somewhat daunted by the magnitude of the task. The conference planners posed these questions:

  • How can we best forge collaborative and cross-disciplinary relationships in order to promote truly transformative action?
  • How can we best integrate the voices of academia and practice, incorporating both theory and grassroots realities?
  • How can we act on the critiques of the dominant, mainstream status quo which are offered by feminist, critical, and ecological perspectives?

On October 11, 2010, we gathered the perspectives, knowledge, and strengths of our diverse local communities, to form a vital group of practitioners and scholars to define and embody change, inspired and informed by the models cited. By reframing the ways that we think about social problems we can offer a hopeful, realistic and astute exploration of our social ills and challenges, all from a foundation of awareness, multiple-perspectives, and compassionate understanding.

This conference was designed to provide a forum and a framework in which to address these challenging questions and more. The structure of the day included brief presentations from practitioners, collaborative work groups, and a synthesizing of our collective insight and inspiration for present and ongoing action. We heard from those who are actively working to realize the vision of multi-layered, integrative intervention; explore extant inter-organizational, cross-disciplinary collaborations; and learn from their successes, challenges, and practical wisdom. Most importantly, the entire conference was designed and structured to be a working, interactive, and inclusive experience, that will foster continuing relationships and expand our community practices and support.


Date: Monday (Columbus Day), October 11, 2010
Location: Northeastern University, Curry Student Center
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Registration Fee: $25.00 for conference only, $45.00 for continuing education credits APA, NBCC, MSW

This working conference is cosponsored by Public Health Program, Brudnick Center, and the Department Of Counseling and Applied Psychology at Northeastern University; and by Field Training Office for Counseling and Psychology and Expressive Therapies at Lesley University.

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