Social Work's Past as Prologue

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


One of the remarkable byproducts of social work's ongoing efforts to define itself was the path-breaking emergence of a new, comprehensive code of ethics, adopted in 1996. For the very first time in social work's storied history, the code included an explicit mission statement that proclaims that the primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.