Stephen F. Austin State University

Center for Rural Social Work Research and Development


The purpose of the Center for Rural Social Work Research and Development s to further the School's mission by supporting activities related to the development of community-based social services and the leadership capabilities of rural service providers. Specifically, the center will support faculty and students who engage in innovative research activities that assist stakeholders with efforts to develop communities, organizations and professionals. The center will also serve as a resource for programs and practitioners seeking support for developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based practices. The center will accomplish this via activities related to:

Rural Research. Our faculty and students actively engage in scholarly activity related to rural issues and social services. However, the School has limited resources to support faculty in research related endeavors. Thus the center will serve to support faculty and graduate students in planning and implementing rural research projects. Such research projects may include needs assessments, studies of rural populations and/or issues, and designing/evaluating strategies and interventions to meet the needs of rural areas. The center will also assist with coordination of research projects dissemination of results.

Community and Organizational Development. The center will also take an active role in building the capacity of local organizations and communities to address issues identified through needs assessments and other such activities. Such activities may include building and developing community organizations and resources, support networks, and collaborative partnerships. Students in the BSW and MSW programs will have opportunities to assist in the building and development process through field placement assignments.

Professional Development. The center will help to build social work leadership in rural settings by offering professional development, training, and continuing education opportunities to develop leaders among rural service providers. To reach the largest number of practitioners and students, multiple instructional delivery strategies will be used.

It is important to note that the center will actively seek to involve students in the aforementioned activities through field placements, research assistantships, and graduate assistantships.

Thus far the center has secured two evaluation contracts between the School of Social Work and Special Health Resources for Texas, Inc. for development and evaluation of services. We have several additional projects in the "works" and are excited about the opportunities before us. For more information about the center, please contact Dr. Freddie Avant at (936) 468-5105. Dr. Avant can also be reached by email at

The Rural Social Work Research Development Center Celebrates 5 Years of Service

The Rural Social Work Research and Development Center of the School of Social Work celebrated five years of service on December 3, 2014. Dr. Freddie Avant, Director of the School of Social Work presented a brief presentation that included the initial conceptualization of the idea for the research center. Additionally, he identified the key individuals who played a role in the development of the center. He also talked about the significant impact of the research center in contributing to faculty, student and community development. Additionally, he mentioned the research center was designed to focus on understanding and addressing real problems facing rural people and rural communities. Finally, he recognized and acknowledged the contributions and commitment of graduate assistants, staff, faculty and community in making the center a success.