The GO Global Scholarship was established to support social work students in having international learning experiences. The scholarship was created by Dr. Erlene Grise-Owens and Dr. Larry W. Owens; they are life-partners, social work educators, and world travelers.
Erlene grew up on a farm in Quality (Butler County), KY and is a WKU alumnus (1978). Erlene’s parents were unable to attend college, due to economic circumstances; but, her parents ensured that she and her eleven siblings had that opportunity. And, WKU was synonymous with “going to college.” Erlene’s experience at WKU radically affected her life path, including her decision to pursue a social work career.
Larry grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina in a single parent home. One of his earliest memories is star-gazing with his grandmother on her farm, watching airplanes cross the sky, and talking about seeing the world. Most of his early dreams involved traveling. His high school graduation gift from his mother was a trip to Washington D.C.; she required that he plan and coordinate the trip. He has been planning trips ever since! After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked for two years in Caracas, Venezuela. This experience indelibly impacted his worldview and his social work practice.
Erlene and Larry both have a Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctor of Education (EdD) degrees. Hence, they are a “pair-o’-docs.” Apartment neighbors, they met while earning their MSW degrees. Their marriage vows included a commitment to see the world, which they honor whole-heartedly, as they traverse the globe. In addition to personal travel, professionally, they have participated in and led study abroad opportunities and done professional presentations on five continents. Erlene and Larry know firsthand how international travel and experiences positively changes one’s worldview and forever enriches one’s live.
Further, they know the increasing importance of social workers having a global perspective. As social work educators, they collaborate with colleagues to develop a meta-practice approach in social work; they define meta-practice, as “global social aspects that both overarch and interact with macro, mezzo, and micro practice” (Grise-Owens, Miller, & Owens, 2014, p. 46). To sustain relevance and effectiveness, the profession of social work must have an international perspective for affecting positive and systemic world change.
Through the GO Global Scholarship, Erlene and Larry hope to support world travel experiences for students entering the social work profession. They believe this experience will have a life-changing effect for the student and a crucial impact on their professional practice. Larry and Erlene are grateful for the opportunity to partner with WKU, “A Leading American University with International Reach”, where Larry is faculty in the Department of Social Work. They are delighted to work with WKU to provide life-changing learning experiences for those entering the world-changing profession of social work. Together, let’s GO Global!
Grise-Owens, E., Miller, J., & Owens, L. W. (2014). Responding to global shifts: Meta-practice as a relevant social work practice paradigm. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 34, 46-59.
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