History – Celebrating 30 Years

The Founding of NANFED

NANFED was formed in 1987 to give field educators a voice at the Council on Social Work Education/Annual Program Meeting. That year, over 200 field educators participated in the first major Field Work Symposium organized by Dean Schneck, Bart Grossman and Urania Glassman at the CSWE/APM held in St. Louis.

History of NANFED

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS 1987 – 2017

NANFED – North American Network of Field Educators and Directors


“Build it and they will come” would be the way to describe the outpouring of support we received after the first major Field Work Symposium was held at the St. Louis APM in February, 1987.  Over 200 field educators participated and after the 1988 Field Symposium, which drew even larger numbers, the Symposium chairs, Dean Schneck, Bart Grossman, and Urania Glassman, agreed that the rich papers presented merited an edited volume.  Considering there had been no venue for the dissemination and review of field education knowledge, the high quality of the submissions was no surprise.  Field Education in Social Work: Contemporary Issues and Trends, edited by the threesome was published in 1991.  In 1995, the edited volume, Social Work Field Education: Views and Visions by Gayla Rogers was published with special focus on Canada emanating from the launching of the first Canadian Field Work Symposium in Calgary.   It should be noted that the CSWE was given the first option to publish these materials and declined, and so with the support of the publishing house of Kendall Hunt in Iowa, these volumes came into being.

The field educators from the US and Canada involved in the Field Symposia each year recognized that field work had been under-represented in the CSWE, and in the APM.  There was no Field Work Commission — the view of the CSWE was that field work was actually being represented through the Practice Commission.    There were virtually no known field directors taking part in accreditation site visit teams.

The North American Network of Field Educators and Directors – NANFED – was formed to promote the interests of field education within the CSWE and the APM.   The Field Work Symposium chairs have in early years also chaired NANFED.  This structure was changed in 2011 with additional Steering Committee members chairing the Field Track.

A permanent Steering Committee of field educators conducts the work of NANFED.  This work has included supporting the Field Symposium, encouraging the submission of abstracts, identifying issues to be addressed at the Symposium, supporting the development of local consortia, mentoring new field directors, addressing issues related to standards and EPAS, submitting Faculty Development Institutes, running and funding the reception, conducting the business meeting, cooperating with the Field Commission and more recently The Council on Field Education, funding the Heart of Social Work Awards, maintaining the directory of field educators, (through Regina Thomas at UCLA), and collecting dues.  Marsha Martin and Priscilla Riley succeeded the founders as chairs as well as Jennie Bloom.

During the late 1980’s Joe Nunn and Mitchell Maki of UCLA, and Janet Black of U. Cal. Long Beach, launched the Heart of Social Work Awards to honor and celebrate field instructors.   The process was formalized and schools are invited to submit nominees for these awards.  Recipient schools are urged to cover expenses to APM for honorees.  Awards are presented annually at the Field Educators’ Reception.  Expenses for plaques are incurred by NANFED. UCLA is currently responsible for this undertaking.

Field Works, Inc. was incorporated in Wisconsin in 1990 as a non profit corporation by Schneck, Grossman, and Glassman.  Betty Zeps, now retired from the Field Office at University of Wisconsin continued as the keeper of the account, issuing checks until 2009. The account is now handled by the Treasurer, Ginger Robbins, through U. of Houston.  One of its original purposes was to support the publications.  All proceeds from the sale of the two volumes was turned back to Field Works, Inc. NANFED continues to receive small amounts of royalties from those volumes.

The Steering Committee was persistent in lobbying for the development of a Field Work Commission within CSWE.  This was accomplished after huge effort and we are largely indebted to Dean Schneck for this endeavor.  In 2003, when the Field Commission was disbanded, another effort was required to insure the representation of Field Education within the Council.  Currently, the chair of the Field Work Council sits on the Commission on Educational Policy COEP (formerly COCEI).

Through personal contributions, profits from the sale of the books, and some help from institutions, the NANFED Heart of Social Work Reception continues and the Heart of Social Work Awards are presented.  However, to insure our vitality and future growth, NANFED needs all participant field educators to become members.

We must be mindful that it is the Field Work Symposium – now being called the Field Work Track — with its scholarly juried papers, and enthusiastic and dedicated participation that gives field work its legitimacy at the CSWE, and which ultimately underpins NANFED’s legitimacy.  It is the production of scholarly works that provides field educators with the voice necessary to insure that field education remains central in the social work curriculum.

EPAS 2008:   The designation of Field Work as the Signature Pedagogy of Social Work has been a long time in coming.  This view emanates from an understanding of the literature on professional education and the recognition of key conceptual underpinnings guiding all professions in their use of signature pedagogies to educate their practitioners.   Since competencies have centrality in the accreditation standards, field educators have become important contributors to their institutions as standards have required curricula to focus on integration of learning, especially with regard to knowledge, values, and action.

The NANFED website was originally launched and supported by New York Academy of Medicine Social Work Leadership Institute.  It is now self-supported, and provides information about the activities of NANFED and field educators, consortia, and CSWE field related issues.

In 2015 the organization became a federally recognized non-profit (501-c-3).