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International Initiatives

International Faculty

David Engstrom

David W. Engstrom, PhD, MA is an Associate Professor in the School. His research focuses on immigration policy and services to immigrants and refugees. Dr. Engstrom has written extensively on the plight of vulnerable immigrant populations, such as torture survivors and trafficked person and has been a keynote speaker at international conferences speaking on human rights and corruption.  Dr. Engstrom founded the MSW Thailand Summer Internship Program in 2002 and has supervised nearly 84 students in internships ranging from child welfare to human trafficking to mental health. With Dr.Loring Jones, he co-created the Thailand Semester Abroad Program in 2008.  He has been a visiting professor at the Faculty of Social Administration at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand and has taught it its PhD program for many years.  As part of his role as the Coordinator for International Programs at the School of Social Work, Dr. Engstrom has set up collaborations with academic institutions in Mexico and Germany.


Mario Garrett

Mario Garrett, PhD, has worked with all three longitudinal from-birth databases sponsored by the British government. As the team leader of a United Nations Population Fund, and as the Program Manager/ Director of Programs with the United Nations International Institute on Aging, Dr. Garrett coordinated a five-year project looking at support for the elderly in the People’s Republic of China. Since 1995, Dr. Garrett has been working exclusively with national American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations.


Loring Jones

Loring Jones, DSW, is a Professor in the School. He has extensive teaching, research, and practice experience focused in the areas of the social welfare of children and international social services. His research in Thailand has included an investigation of recruitment for human trafficking. For the past seven years he has accompanied SDSU students to Thailand on their annual summer study tour. This experience has given him extensive knowledge of Thai culture, health care, social services, economics, and language.



Yawen Li, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. Her research focuses on health disparities and inequality in healthcare access among older Chinese American and Chinese adults. Dr. Li has published on sociocultural and environmental determinants of health and health-seeking behaviors among older Chinese adults. She has research collaboration with scholars from several universities in China. Dr. Li served as the manager of the  China Program at University of Southern California and  worked on education and research collaboration between USC and several universities in China from 2003 to 2008.



Sally Mathiesen

Sally Mathiesen, PhD, MSW. Dr. Mathiesen’s research and teaching agenda has a strong focus on international social work education. She has conducted trainings and presentations in several Caribbean countries, participated in student exchanges in Mexico, Eastern and Western Europe, and Thailand, and worked as part of a post-tsunami interuniversity research team in American Samoa. Dr. Mathiesen was the 2010-2011 recipient of a Fulbright Research & Teaching Scholar Award to Barbados where she conducted research on mental health services and taught at the University of the West Indies. She is a co-author of a guidebook for developing international student exchanges that was recently published by the Council on Social Work Education



dr. zunigaMaría Luisa (‘Mari’) Zúñiga, PhD, is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. She is an epidemiologist who conducts Community-Based Participatory Research to study the intersection of alcohol and drug use, mental health, sexual risk behaviors and self-care practices that contribute to poor health among diverse, vulnerable populations. Dr. Zúñiga specializes in the health of populations living in the U.S.-Mexico border region and in transnational health. She has worked extensively with Latinos living with HIV, U.S. Latino immigrant populations, and international and domestic migrants and their families in the U.S. and Mexico. Ongoing research on substance use, migration and health (PI: Zúñiga, Health Initiative of the Americas) indicates changes in mental health and drug and alcohol use practices in the context of migration and family separation among Latino immigrants from Yucatán, México. Dr. Zúñiga maintains strong research ties and student training collaborations in the states of Yucatán and Baja California, México.

Visiting Scholars

Jae Woo KimDr. Jae Woo Kim, Chonbuk National University, South Korea

Jae-Woo Kim, PhD, is an Associate Professor of the sociology department at Chonbuk National University, South Korea. His research has centered mainly on social dilemma, social capital, social connectedness and interactions, community psychology and well-being, and civic participation and educational practices. He is currently working on a couple of projects directed at pathways to subjective well-being across the life cycle in Japan and Korea, roles of neighborhood perception and social activity participation on the linkage between depression and suicidal ideation, and family context and its consequences on psychological well-being and educational outcomes of multicultural children in Korea.  


Alex NoyonDr. Alex Noyon, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences

Alexander Noyon is a Professor of Social Work and Head of the Department of Threat and Conflict Management at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. He will be with us for his sabbatical this fall. As a clinical psychologist, his areas of practice/teaching include mental health, cognitive-behavioral and existential psychology and counseling, and research. Dr. Noyon will be guest lecturing in some of our classes.


meselTerje Mesel, Agder University, Norway

Terje Mesel is professor of ethics/professional ethics  at University of Agder and Sorlandet hospital, Norway.  Mesel has published several books and articles on professional ethics and medical ethics. Dr. Mesel will be at SDSU this fall  finishing a book on child sexual abuse.  Together with his co-author, a survivor of CSA, he tries to address the ethical and moral challenges survivors are faced with.


Recent Visiting Scholars

  • Nuchantat Yuhanngoh, Huachiew Chalermprakiet University, Thailand (Spring 2016)
  • Knut Tielking, University of Applied Sciences of Emder/Leer in Germany (2014)
  • Ingrid Kollak, Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences, Germany (2013)
  • Stefan Schmidt, Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences, Germany (2013)
  • Chanon Komonmarn, Thammasat University, Thailand (2012)
  • Ana Niculaes, Universitatea Pedagogica, Moldova (2012)
  • Somsak Amornsiriphong, Nakorn Pathom Rajabat University, Thailand (2011)


Undergraduate Thailand Course

Graduate Students in Thailand

Undergraduate & Graduate International Opportunities

In addition to the opportunites below, the SDSU School of Social Work is in the process of developing field practicum opportunities at the following agencies in Tijuana, Mexico: Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo, Integral de la Familia (DIF – child welfare placement), Hospital de Salud Mental de Tijuana, A.C. (psychiatric hospital), and Ciudad de los Niños (orphanage).



Mexico / Tijuana Collaboration

tijuana collaborationThe SDSU School of Social Work collaborates with the School of Social Work in Tijuana to foster binational educational, program, and research activities.

Faculty and students from the School of Social Work in Tijuana traveled to San Diego to participate in agency visits and a lecture by SDSU social work faculty in April of 2013.

tijuana-crossingA delegation of undergraduate and graduate students from the Latino Student Social Work Association accompanied by its two faculty advisers, Drs. David Engstrom and Maria Lusia Zuniga visited three social service agencies and met with students at the Escuela de Trabajo Social in Tijuiana, Mexico on November 15, 2013.  The LSSWA students had an enriching dialog with the students from the social work program in Tijuana and have started a planning group for future bi-national collaboration.

The School of Social Work is pleased to announce that field placements for undergraduate and graduate students in Tijuana, Mexico, have been established.  For more information go to the Mexico Field Practicum webpage. 


SDSU Financial Aid and Scholarhips Office

Financial Aid for International Study


Additional Study Abroad Resources and Information

SDSU Study Abroad Resources

Country Conditions and Travel Warnings and Health Recommendations

Country Background and Statistics

Social Work Study Abroad Programs