Rubén Parra-Cardona, Ph.D., knows first-hand the value of a global education. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico,
Dr. Parra-Cardona obtained his undergraduate psychology degree in Central Mexico, then moved to New York to earn a masters at Syracuse University and later a Ph.D. at Texas Tech University.
Early in his career, Dr. Parra-Cardona worked as a community organizer, primarily with indigent children in Mexico. After he earned his Ph.D. in Family Therapy, it was while working in Detroit that Dr. Parra-Cardona started to see the value of his work globally. In Detroit, he launched a community-focused parenting program that received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. The model attracted the attention of Oxford University and the World Health Organization, for which he is now serving as cultural consultant for culturally adapted guidelines for Latin American governments.
Creation of the Office of Global Engagement
With a multicultural, global background, it’s no question why Dean Allan Cole appointed Dr. Parra-Cardona to the newly created role of Associate Dean for Global Engagement.
An Office of Global Engagement reflects the Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHS) commitment to global social work education, research, and partnerships. Dr. Parra-Cardona will lead SHS efforts to increase the School’s impact globally, build upon existing partnerships, and develop robust additional partnerships that advance research, educational programming, and exchange opportunities among SHS faculty and students. Among other benefits, the program will help facilitate a global mindset for social workers.
Serving alongside Dr. Parra-Cardona will be Tanya Voss, who led the SHS field education program with distinction and took on the role of Assistant Dean for Global Engagement on August 15. Together, the deans will strengthen and increase learning initiatives in various locations around the world.
Current Global Engagement Projects
Current projects include a global social work partnership with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, which has led to establishing the first clinical master’s degree in social work in Chile. SHS has also collaborated with the San Carlos de Maipo Foundation on the cultural adaptation and large-scale dissemination of a parenting intervention that promotes social skills. This intervention also prevents, reduces, and reverses the development of moderate to severe conduct problems among children.
In addition to expanding research and continuing to co-develop self-sustaining models of academic cooperation, Dr. Parra-Cardona hopes to provide short-term global experiences to a wider range of students who might not be able to afford the cost associated with longer-term global practicum education.
Dr. Parra-Cardona sees a global education for students as essential to their overall academic experience.
“A global perspective makes us a humbler people and more accountable for our privileges,” he said. “The U.S. is a vast country with many privileges, and you learn so much from the resilience of people in low-resource countries. It brings a different light to the challenges we have here and a commitment to embrace solidarity with those fighting for social justice across the world.”