Book Review: Behavioral science in the global arena: Addressing timely issues at the United Nations and beyond

Archives > Volume 18 (2021) > Issue 1 > Item 13

DOI: 10.55521/10-018-113

Congress, E. P., Takooshian, H., & Asper, A. (Eds.). (2020). Behavioral science in the global arena:
Addressing timely issues at the United Nations and beyond (Vol. I)
. Information Age Publishing.

Reviewed by J. Porter Lillis, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Pembroke

Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics • Volume 18(1), Copyright 2021 by ASWB

This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the authors and advance notification of ASWB.

Published just as the United Nations turned 75 in 2020, “UN75,” this edited book addresses the many roles that behavioral scientists play in the UN’s work, as well as the acute needs that still must be met. The book focuses on the work of psychology and social work at the international level. The essays are the work of both active professionals and students, and the text was designed to be accessible to professionals, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those who may not know anything about UN issues.

The book is broken down into five sections, and within each section is a small number of very short chapters (4, 4, 2, 3, 2 respectively). The sections include Serving Current Populations, Upholding Social Justice, Promoting Harmony, Improving Human Health, and Supporting Environmental Health. Each chapter ends with a glossary of key terms, study questions for class text use, notes and references. Each section and chapter are not the exhaustive descriptions of issues addressed, rather the book uniquely shows specifically how social work and psychology are used to approach each of the issues and exactly which of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are being addressed. Each chapter is a concise description of a single aspect of the issue, with primary ideas or concepts reviewed, and which SDGs are addressed by psychology and social work.

This text does exactly what it sets out to do; it illustrates the important roles that the behavioral sciences of social work and psychology actively play in addressing global issues and is a great snapshot of national and international opportunities and needs for behavioral scientists. The shift from thinking about individual cases to considering policy at a national and international level makes this an interesting text for students. By illustrating the many opportunities that are possible for behavioral scientists and showing how many of the current problems under study are universal in nature and require international cooperation, students are shown a bigger picture and the empirical approaches to solving those problems.