Foresight-Based Map of Social Work’s Immediate Future/Heat Map: Considering 1-5 years Ahead

REVISION NOTE: I had some feedback that the map below was a little hard to read, so also including a link to a google doc where you can zoom in if desired! Hope this helps – thanks for the POSITIVE RESPONSE to this work…so much to learn and explore together!! LINK HERE.

One of the relevant steps in trying to think about what “social work of the future” might look like, is to rigorously map out what some of the issues, signals and drivers of change for the profession are right now. There are both progressive and regressive signals everywhere…a very complex ecosystem indeed. Then, one might think about them in combinations – and imagine how these will interact with other larger forces (different political climates for example) as time moves forward. Here’s a map of my own view of the social work change ecosystem now and ahead about 1-5 years. Because of my study of foresight…I “gather” signals related to all of these things…and see them as glimpses of possible futures. My work to think about, imagine and try to scope out “the future of the profession” uses these signals and ideas as ingredients to start to build with – ever validating or complicating them, and comparing them with others within and beyond social work.

Each person who reads this might likely develop their own – so this isn’t meant to be “definitive,” but rather simply the result of my own scanning, gathering and thinking about what’s ahead for how we operate in our shared world.

However this map does underscore, that the future of social work…is bigger than social work.

What can be valuable about a map like this, is to consider which of these things we spend a lot of time focusing on…and which we spend no time at all focusing on. What might it mean for our profession to be “ready” for these and other possibilities? How will the work we do in the future relate to these emergent dynamics…even as we try to maintain/reform our “traditional” practice ideas and forms.

What would be on your map? Leave a note in the comments!!

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