This dissertation looks back through the lens of a conflict that emerged during the development of social work education in Alberta, and captured by a dispute about the name of the school. The difference of a single word – welfare versus work – led through selected events in the history of social work where similar differences led to disputes about important matters. The themes of the dispute are embedded in the Western Tradition with the emergence of social work and its development at the focal point for addressing the consequences described as a ‘painful disorientation generated at the intersections where cultural values clash.’
In early 1966, the University of Calgary was selected as the site for Alberta’s graduate level social work program following a grant and volunteers from the Calgary Junior League. Initiated in the early 1960s by the AASW, social agencies, representatives from Calgary and Edmonton and the University of Alberta, to conduct a study led by the Alberta Social Work Education Research Committee. The Study completed in 1965 concluded with a recommendation to establish a school of social work in Alberta; the University of Alberta, Board of Governors assigned the school to the new University of Calgary.
The Study examines the history of the School of Social Welfare and the controversy surrounding the name associated with the broad view of social work. The critique led to a narrative that its graduates were not prepared for practice. Several efforts were made to change the name; however, AASW aligned itself with the School’s critics to oppose the name change. Following the appointment of a new Dean in the early 1980s, the direction and vision of the program changed. Although the program increasingly reflected a narrow view of social work, its scholarly work in the form of research and publications established its legitimacy and credibility particularly within the University and created the condition for changing the name to the Faculty of Social Work. The role of ideology and the theoretical framework of new institutionalism include a discussion of agency and structure, emergence, philosophical anthropology and the development of the tendency toward isomorphism as the predictor and explanation for organizations in the same field adopting similar organizational forms.