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Endowment bequest from former faculty member supports publication of social services journal
A former faculty member at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA) has left a bequest of $1.45 million dollars to the School to carry on his interests in social justice and his high standards for scholarship by providing an endowment for the Social Service Review, the oldest and most highly regarded journal in the field.
Michael Sosin, the Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor at SSA, died Nov. 25, 2014. He edited the journal from 1999 to 2012.
“We are deeply grateful for this generous support from Professor Sosin as it will ensure his legacy, supporting rigorous scholarship which sheds light on serving those most vulnerable,” said Dean Neil Guterman, the Mose & Sylvia Firestone Professor at SSA. “This bequest will strengthen scholarship in the field for years to come and help SSA enhance its leadership in the field of social work and social welfare.”
Sosin developed his interest in social justice as a child growing up in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood on the Northwest side, said his sister Sybil Sosin. “Our grandparents were Eastern European Jewish immigrants, and they and our parents had firsthand experience of economic and social discrimination, as did most others in our working-class neighborhood.”
“There was a lot of discussion about injustice in our home, much of it informed by the religion’s emphasis on helping others. Our parents belonged to organizations that worked against social injustice,” she added.
As a scholar, Sosin continued that interest in injustice in his research on issues that impacted the disadvantaged, including homelessness. He provided insights, for instance, in an evaluation of Chicago’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness that helped lead to dramatic reductions in the number of people living without shelter.
The Social Service Review, edited by SSA faculty, was founded in 1927 as the first scholarly journal serving the profession of social work and is published by the University of Chicago Press. It publishes articles that are thought-provoking, original research on pressing social issues and promising social work practices and social welfare policies, said current editor Susan Lambert, associate professor at SSA.
Sosin set high standards for SSR, she said. “He was interested in publishing articles on a broad range of issues, from diverse theoretical perspectives. His work raised the quality of intellectual discourse in the field,” Lambert said.
“Michael was devoted to ensuring that The Review maintained its interdisciplinary focus, that it move beyond conventional distinctions between direct practice and social administration to address important social issues from different levels of analysis and different perspectives,” Lambert said.
The journal is particularly interested in publishing the first major works by emerging scholars who hold the potential to transform knowledge on enduring and contemporary social problems, Lambert said. “We are also one of the few journals that welcomes reflective pieces by senior scholars that assess the state of knowledge in their fields,” she said
The journal articles are read by scholars in a broad range of disciplines, including economics, public policy, psychology, sociology, anthropology as well as those in social work, Lambert said.
“Michael strove to be fair in his evaluations as he read the manuscripts and the comments of reviewers. His detailed letters provided authors with useful feedback even when their paper was not accepted for publication in Social Service Review,” she explained.
“The in-depth feedback Michael offered authors provided an important service to the field by helping scholars understand how they might adopt a more empirically-rigorous and conceptually-based approach to knowledge development,” she added.
Sosin received an A.B. in sociology from the University in 1972 and went on to complete an M.S.W and a Ph.D and in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan. He joined the SSA faculty in 1988.
In addition to homelessness, he studied substance abuse services and urban poverty and was interested in the relationship between social institutions and disadvantaged clients.