The North American Network of Field Educators and Directors (NANFED), covering the United States and Canada, was founded in 1987 to promote the interests of field education within the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and its Annual Program Meeting (APM).  That year, over 200 field educators participated in the first major Field Work Symposium. The momentum has continued as hundreds of field educators continue to participate in the APM’s  Field Education Track.

NANFED seeks to:

  • Support the development of 26 Regional Field Consortia representing 300+ schools

  • Sponsor the two annual awards for excellence in field instruction: Heart of Social Work Award, and the Dean Schneck Memorial Award for Distinction in Social Work Field Education

  • Identify issues relevant to field education to be addressed by NANFED, the CSWE Council on Field Education (COFE), and at the CSWE APM

  • Provide networking, resources and mentoring to field educators 


An important part of NANFED’s success in increasing the legitimacy of field education within social work education has been the development of local consortia to support collaboration and communication among Field Directors. Together, these efforts resulted in significant changes to the 2008 accreditation standards, including the designation of field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education.
— The Field Educator

our history: celebrating 30 years

NANFED was formed in 1987 to give field educators a voice at the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting. That year, over 200 field educators participated in the first major Field Work Symposium in St. Louis. When the following year drew even larger numbers, the Symposium chairs, Dean Schneck, Bart Grossman, and Urania Glassman, agreed that the rich papers presented merited an edited volume.  With no previous venue for the dissemination and review of field education knowledge, the publication drew extremely high quality submissions and the first Field Education in Social Work: Contemporary Issues and Trends was published in 1991.  In 1995, the edited volume, Social Work Field Education: Views and Visions by was published with special focus on Canada.   

The Steering Committee began lobbying for the development of a Field Work Commission within CSWE and was successful. Currently, the chair of the Field Work Council sits on the Commission on Educational Policy COEP (formerly COCEI).

In 2015 the organization became a federally recognized non-profit (501-c-3).

The designation of Field Work as the Signature Pedagogy of Social Work has been many years in the making.  This view emanates from an understanding of the literature on professional education and the recognition of key conceptual underpinnings guiding all professions in their use of signature pedagogies to educate their practitioners.   Since competencies have centrality in the accreditation standards, field educators have become important contributors to their institutions as standards have required curricula to focus on integration of learning, especially with regard to knowledge, values, and action.