The Art of Being Human: Constructing Meaning out of Life
School of Social Work
Dr. David Springer is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Graduate Adviser, and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, where he is also Investigator of the Inter-American Institute for Youth Justice and holds a joint appointment with the Department of Psychology.
Dr. Springer was born in Manhattan, New York. After spending his first six years of childhood in Nyack, New York, he and his family moved to Rockledge, Florida (a few miles inland from Cocoa Beach) where he grew up an avid surfer and beach bum. Dr. Springer received his Ph.D. in Social Work from Florida State University, where he also received a Master of Social Work degree and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Dr. Springer’s social work practice experience has included work as a clinical social worker with adolescents and their families in inpatient and outpatient settings and as a school social worker in an alternative learning center with youth recommended for expulsion for serious offenses.
Dr. Springer’s interest in developing and implementing effective social work services for adolescents and their families continues to drive his research and scholarship. Dr. Springer has conducted research funded by various sources, including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. He has conducted state and local program evaluations for entities such as the State Office of Community Resource Coordination Groups, the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department, the Texas Integrated Funding Initiative, and the Travis County Children’s Partnership System-of-Care. His areas of interest include: clinical assessment and intervention with adolescents and families; evidence-based substance abuse and mental health treatment with youth; forensic social work with juvenile delinquents; juvenile justice; applied psychometric theory and scale development; intervention research with adolescents; and leadership in social work higher education.
Dr. Springer currently serves on the editorial board of several professional journals, including Victims and Offenders: Journal of Evidence-Based Policies and Practices, of which he is a founding Editorial Board Member. He has authored or edited several books, including — Substance Abuse Treatment for Criminal Offenders: An Evidence-Based Guide for Practitioners (with C. Aaron McNeece and Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold), Social Work in Juvenile and Criminal Justice Settings, Handbook of Forensic Mental Health with Victims and Offenders (with Albert R. Roberts), Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice: Policies, Programs and Intervention Strategies, and Developing and Validating Rapid Assessment Instruments (with Neil Abell and Aki Kamata, published by Oxford University Press, USA, 2007) – and has authored or co-authored over 100 articles, book chapters, and reports that primarily coalesce juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, and interventions with youth. He is currently co-editing a series of books, the Clinican’s Guide to Evidence-Based Practice (with Allen Rubin, published by John Wiley and Sons), in which each volume of the series provides an in-depth description of several evidence-based interventions that focus on a specific clinical area of treatment.
Dr. Springer teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. At the graduate level, he has most recently taught “Treatment of Children and Adolescents”, “Delinquency and Juvenile Justice”, “Theories and Methods of Group Intervention”, “Advanced Research in Clinical Social Work”, “Leadership as a Catalyst for Community Change”, and the doctoral seminar “Theories of Direct Practice”. Each fall Dr. Springer teaches a First-Year Signature Course, entitled “The Art of Being Human: Constructing Meaning out of Life”, where students explore how individuals create a meaningful and happy existence. Dr. Springer has been awarded the Texas Exes Teaching Excellence Award (1998), the university-wide Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award (2003), and the university-wide DAD’S Centennial Teaching Fellowship (2008) in recognition of distinction and excellence in teaching students. In 2005, Dr. Springer was selected into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, the highest teaching honor awarded to professors at The University of Texas at Austin (click here for more information about the Academy).
Dr. Springer recently served as Chair of a Blue Ribbon Task Force consisting of national and regional leaders, entitled “Transforming Juvenile Justice in Texas: A Framework for Action”, which was charged with making recommendations for reforming the juvenile justice system in Texas. He also serves on the National Scientific and Policy Advisory Council for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and on the Advisory Council for Great Wall China Adoption. Dr. Springer has been selected into Who’s Who in Social Sciences Higher Education and Who’s Who in America. In recognition of his work with the Blue Ribbon Task Force, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Texas Chapter/Austin Branch selected Dr. Springer as the 2008 Social Worker of the Year.
Dr. Springer and his wife, Sarah, have a son, Aidan. Dr. Springer’s interests include running, playing the guitar, photography, camping and hiking. He still surfs when he gets the chance.