The National Rural Social Work Caucus - Organization By Rumor

The Rural Social Work Caucus is an informal organization; members often say it is an organization that operates by rumor as opposed to
structure, established as a “loose” membership body at the First National Institute on Social Work in Rural Areas hosted by the
University of Tennessee in 1976. The caucus has operated since that time basically as a “commons” with a set of voluntary leaders that work to
keep a voice for social work practice with rural places active within the social work profession. 

Over the past 30 plus years the caucus has partnered with universities and colleges across the United States to host an annual National
Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas. Additionally, the caucus has worked to add to the knowledge base for
social work practice within rural contexts by encouraging those with interests in rural places to publish and share their research and
expertise. The annual institute was designed to move around the country to showcase the diversity of rural America and to provide social workers
in rural areas with access to a substantial professional development activity that might not otherwise be available to them. This was one of
the reasons the caucus originally worked with colleges and universities with active missions to serve rural areas as the location for the

The caucus has facilitated notable achievements in scholarship with the production of several conference proceedings and the creation of a
professional journal Human Services in the Rural Environment. The journal is no longer being produced, but the annual institute continues.
On the fun side, the caucus has its own song and a membership label for its members, “caucazoid” that reflects our informal nature, yet strong
ties to one another and social work practice in rural places.