NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Charles S. Levy (1919 - 2006)
Pioneering Contributions: Charles S. Levy made pioneering contributions to social work in the field of ethics and values. His course in social work ethics for master’s students, at Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, continues to this day. His pioneering work in the field of ethics led to his appointment as Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto for one year as the Cassidy Fellow. His 1976 influential book Social Work Ethics has been a standard reference in the field. Frederic G. Reamer noted that “Levy’s ... [book] was clearly the most ambitious discussion of the subject at that time in the profession’s history.” Levy chaired the NASW task force that created the 1979 NASW Code of Ethics, the first revision since its creation 20 years earlier. The revised code involved a breakthrough three-fold typology, including the dignity and worth of the person; examining outcomes for clients; and the concept of self-determination. Levy’s revision included 80 principles divided into six major sections of belief.
Career Highlights: Levy was one of the first faculty members to become affiliated with what is now the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University. He was appointed in 1957, the first year of the School and was instrumental in formulating policies and procedures as well as developing curricula. It was the first successful school of social work developed under Jewish auspices.
As Acting Dean in 1962-63, Levy developed writing seminars for faculty members, a novelty in the early 1960’s. Levy established the doctoral program at Wurzweiler School of Social Work, which graduated many scholars.
His work was some of the first on the field of ethics as a systematic, analytical study that could be applied to management and business, social service administrators, and Jewish social services as well as social work students and faculty. Levy also made seminal contributions to group work theory, particularly Jewish communal service, and is the author of several relevant books on that topic.
Biographic Data: Levy received his PhD from Columbia University’s School of Social Work in 1958 and his MSW in 1949 from Wayne State University’s School of Social Work. He received his BA from the City College of New York in 1943.
Publications: Levy has written dozens of articles and several books focusing on the field of ethics and values. These include:
Levy, C.S. & Slavin, S. (1993). Social Work Ethics on the Line. Philadelphia, PA:Haworth Press
Levy, C. (1976). Social Work Ethics. New York, NY:Human Sciences Press
Levy, C. (1973). The ethics of supervision. Social Work, 18(2), p. 14-21.