About the project

Understanding Social Work Leadership in Canada is a research study at the McMaster University School of Social Work that seeks to collect and preserve the oral histories of retired social workers who made a significant difference through their careers. 

The project builds on original research from 1983/84 (Canadian Association of Social Workers Oral History Project), in which Karen Hill collected the oral histories of 56 retired social workers across Canada, many of whom had been pioneers as the profession developed. Associate Professor Tara La Rose discovered the oral histories when she was doing her thesis. Strongly believing that the information needed to be more accessible to social workers and researchers, she instigated a pilot project to digitize the recordings and offer them online.

Understanding Social Work Leadership in Canada is an extension of this work. We will record 50 new oral histories, inviting a diversity of social work leaders to speak about their careers, their experiences and their unique perspectives, in order to create a deeper understanding of social work leadership.

Illustration of two women talking

A framework for the next generation

After the contemporary oral histories have been collected, we will do a comparative analysis between Karen Hill’s historic video recordings and the new ones. The knowledge gained will help us to create an educational framework to train future generations of social work leaders.

In addition, the project will help to preserve the history of social work in Canada. Since many of the people interviewed have been part of significant movements in social work practice, social justice and social change, capturing their experiences in their own words becomes a legacy.

See the results

The oral histories will be preserved and publicly shared through the McMaster Library Digital Repository and on YouTube.

It is anticipated that the study will be completed by approximately August 1, 2023. If you would like a brief summary of the results, please contact us with your email address.

Understanding Social Work Leadership in Canada and this nomination process have been approved by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board, certificate #4996. The project is funded by the Social Sciences Humanities Research Counsel through an Insight Grant. The Principal Investigator is Tara La Rose, Associate Professor, McMaster University School of Social Work.

School of Social Work
Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH), Room 319
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4M4