Social work at Penn celebrates 100 years; Nader to speak

Ralph Nader

This year, the University celebrates 100 years of the study of social work. To help commemorate, the School of Social Policy and Practice has tapped a speaker known as a crusader for consumer rights, provocative author and sometime Presidential candidate—Ralph Nader.

The consumer advocate will deliver the keynote address, “Social Justice in the Post-Bush Era,” on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. The event will be held at the Zellerbach Theatre, and will be followed by an alumni panel discussion, “Achieving Social Justice,” as well as a reception with light fare. All events are open to the public.

Nader was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century. For the past 40 years, Nader has worked to expose problems and organize millions of citizens into public interest groups. Among his groups’ successes are the enacting of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act. He has also founded many organizations including the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Public Citizen, Clean Water Action Project and the Project for Corporate Responsibility.

Nader is also well-known for his book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” which documented safety defects in U.S. cars and criticized the automobile industry’s safety practices, specifically the Corvair. This book—and Nader’s research on the auto industry—helped provoke Congress to pass the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Richard Gelles, dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice, says that for 100 years, the University has produced a generation of clinicians, agency leaders and policymakers who have created social changes. “Ralph Nader is an effective social-change agent—and we are able to create social change because of the commitment of our students and our faculty, programs and research.”

Throughout the year, the school will celebrate 100 years of social work at Penn with special lectures, events, books about the school’s history and a new scholarship. For updates on events, visit the Social Policy and Practice website:

Originally published Sept. 18, 2008

Originally published on September 18, 2008