October 26, 2006

Textbook could have general interest for readers

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Although she wrote it as a textbook for social workers, the author of a new book on human rights hopes readers interested in the topic will buy it, too.

"Often the literature is based on legal studies or philosophy works with certain styles of writing, and people shy away because they think it will be difficult," said Elisabeth Reichert, a professor of social work at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, who has written "Understanding Human Rights: An Exercise Book," published in May by Sage Publications in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"I tried to make it accessible for all readers."

Reichert, who joined the College of Education and Human Services' School of Social Work in 1994, said she became interested in the topic in 1995 when she went to Beijing for the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women.

"I thought, 'Why isn't social work more visible?'" she recalled.

Her first effort, "A Foundation for Policy and Practice" published in 2003 by Columbia University Press, leaned toward the theoretical.

"There was nothing in the literature, so I felt I was doing some pioneering work in putting the concepts together," she said.

"But social work is applied— putting legal concepts into direct action. I wanted to translate these concepts and legal issues into social work practice."

Her second book breaks the subject matter down into nine chapters focusing on such areas as cultural, economic, political and social rights; vulnerable groups, such as children, women, minorities, those with HIV-AIDS or other disabilities, senior citizens and gay and lesbian people; and the presence and impact of cultural relativism. Each chapter includes exercises to help readers grasp the material more easily.

The 288-page book costs $39.95 and is available at bookstores and through Amazon.com, where, Reichert said, "it's doing very well for a textbook."

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