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Social Work

Why Choose Social Work?

In Social Work, the professional mission “… 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.” (NASW Code of Ethics, 2021, p. 1) Wherever humans exist, social workers  interact with them in an effort to improve their well-being and meet basic needs. We view people in a holistic way that encompasses all parts of them.  These interactions may occur in the realm of art as social workers use art to bring joy or healing to others, in computer science as social workers work with coders to remove bias from artificial intelligence, or in a hospital where a social worker helps a family deal with a life-threatening diagnosis.  By bringing social justice into discussions and keeping human well-being as a focus, social workers are uniquely well suited for interprofessional collaboration which makes our profession truly distinctive among WKU’s professional programs.


Student and Faculty Highlights

Dr. Dean May
For over 26 years, Dr. May was been an amazing leader in our Department! Thank you, Dr. May!

Dr. May is a Professor in the Department of Social Work here at Western Kentucky University (WKU). He is finishing his 26th year at WKU and his 31st year in higher education. In addition to teaching SWRK 101 and SWRK 330, Dr. May coordinates the Training Resource Center grant, the Public Child Welfare Certification Program grant, and the Credit for Learning project.  After serving for 22 years in social work administration at WKU, Dr. May returned to the classroom to teach in 2018. Dr. May said: "It is gratifying to have the opportunity to work directly with students in the classroom after years serving in administration." Dr. May's advice to current and future social work majors would be to "remember how important social change, social justice, environmental justice, and cultural competency are to the everyday lives of our clients. Social workers must be change agents for society as well as for individuals."

Dr. Stark
Dr. Saundra Starks, LCSW. Dr. Starks has had an amazing career and we are fortunate to have called her a leader in our department!

Dr. Saundra Starks has over 45 years of social work practice experience which includes teaching, research, consultation, training, supervision, and clinical practice. She has numerous presentations and publications in the areas of diversity, women, spirituality, mental health, supervision, cultural competency, and leadership training. Dr. Starks also maintains a part time psychotherapy practice in Bowling Green, Kentucky (Bower, Starks, Reeves & Hayes). In addition, she serves on several national, international, and local community service committees and boards. She is the most recent past president of the Bowling Green International Center Board for refugee resettlement. Dr. Starks is also Chair of the Board for the National Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
Dr. Starks also has an extensive background of teaching study abroad courses in Taiwan, Tanzania, Ghana and Belize. She currently has a research project called Project Rafiki in Tanzania that is an interdisciplinary food assistance program for a center that provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS.

BSW Graduate Sam Lambert Class of 2021
Class of 2021, BSW graduate, Sam Lambert was recognized as one of the "Scholars of the College" students for the College of Health and Human Services at WKU!

These scholars are the baccalaureate degree students in each undergraduate college with the highest cumulative overall grade-point average and a minimum of 60 semester hours earned in residence. Sam was also named an outstanding BSW student for the 2021 cohort! Sam Lambert of Park Hills is Scholar of two colleges, the College of Health and Human Services with a major in Social Work and the Potter College of Arts & Letters with a major in Religious Studies. He is the son of Dianna Lambert, Vince Lambert and Elizabeth Lambert. Congratulations, Sam! The Department of Social Work is very proud of you and your accomplishments!

Upcoming Events 

Co-Occurring Disorders Training
  • Location: Zoom
  • Time: 9:00am
View Event


Social Work News

Research in the Department of Social Work
In order to share results from their ongoing research projects, Social Work faculty and students produce a variety of exceptional research products every year.  These include peer reviewed scholarly articles, book chapters, presentations and posters as well as textbooks, infographics, and one page research summaries.  There are many opportunities to become involved in our departmental research projects, and we encourage students to do so. Explore Our Research

Academic Complex Building - Home of WKU Social Work
The Department of Social Work Program
  • 1906 College Heights Blvd.
    Academic Complex Room 110
    Bowling Green KY  42101
  • (270) 745-5312
  • (270) 745-6841
  • Sheryl.Booth@wku.edu






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 Last Modified 9/16/21