Rural communities around the world face common challenges requiring their own unique focus of social work inquiry and competencies. Some of these interrelated challenges include lack of access to education and services, histories of colonization and exploitation, high levels of disease, poverty, isolation, hopelessness, and civic inertia. Local responses to these challenges offer an array of approaches and interventions which colleagues in other locales may find useful. This Special Issue of Contemporary Rural Social Work will feature practice, policy, theory, and research articles focused on global rural issues and local responses to these issues. International social workers, both scholars and practitioners, are encouraged to contribute.
Environmental justice issues are often associated with poor neighborhoods in urban areas. However, rural people in the United States and throughout the world have a legacy of engagement in the quest for environmental justice for their own communities. Fossil fuel extraction industries (e.g., oil, gas and coal) and other mining activities disproportionately occur within and affect rural areas and small towns while developing resources for export to energy-hungry cities. The contemporary development of unconventional drilling technology provides recent opportunities to examine the challenges and opportunities confronting rural communities. This special issue of Contemporary Rural Social Work features practice and research articles focused on promoting environmental justice in rural communities.