Social work and engineering: Lessons from a water filtration project in Guatemala

Lenore E. Matthew, Lissette M. Piedra, Chi Fang Wu, Anne Kramer Diaz, Hanting Wang, Anthony P. Straub, Thanh H. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International service learning (ISL) programs seek to facilitate community inclusion, but such participation can prove elusive. For technical projects, such ventures can undermine local leadership, generate mistrust in communities, and even create an aversion to technological solutions. In this article, we document how social work and engineering students collaborated to bring clean water to rural Guatemala, and demonstrate how we employed social work principles to address the myriad issues encountered in the project. We contend that the inclusion of a social work perspective, with its emphasis on relationships, can help mitigate some of the challenges ISL projects tend to encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1578-1590
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Bio-sand filters
  • Guatemala
  • development
  • interdisciplinary work
  • international service learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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