skip to navigation skip to content
For Students, Faculty, and Staff: MyU One Stop


James Reinardy

Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Minnesota,
M.S.W., University of Minnesota-Duluth,
M.A., Education, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul MN,
B.A., Philosophy, St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul MN

School of Social Work
Rm 105 PetersH

1404 Gortner Ave
Tel: 612-625-0294

Areas of Interest

Enhancing Autonomy and Decision Making of Older Persons, Alternative Models of Long-term Care, Multidisciplinary Geriatric Team Training, Long-term Care Policy, Social Welfare Policy and Community Organizing, Leadership and Organizational Change, philosophical approaches to social justice/human rights and the capabilities approach.

Research Interests

  • Exploring the use of Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) to develop models to improving the everyday decision-making competence of older adults.
  • Investigating attitudes and social work practice of social workers in nursing homes towards engendering decision making and autonomy among long-term care residents.
  • Studying the impact over time of control over the decision to enter a nursing home and its relationship to measures of well being, including health, mental health, social activities.
  • Exploring the qualities of leadership and their impact upon organizational change.
  • Conceptual research on the meaning and political/philosophical foundations of social justice, human rights and their relationship to social work practice.


In the 1970s Dr. Reinardy served as Director of the Office of Social Concerns, Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. In this position he led “Campaign for Human Development,” an initiative of the Catholic Church to fund and support social and economic change efforts controlled by the poor.  He also served as liaison between the Diocese of Duluth and the American Indian community.  These and other experiences led him to seek an M.S.W. at the School of Social Development, University of Minnesota-Duluth. The Duluth program focused upon macro practice, community development, and policy, fitting well with his interests.  Having completed the degree, he joined the faculty at UMD where he taught in the Bachelor of Social Development Program and filled administrative positions until 1983, when he was admitted to the Ph.D. Program, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. There, research opportunities at the Long Term Care Resource Center (Dr. Rosalie Kane, Director, School of Public Health) led him to explore, among other issues, decision making and its impact upon the bio-psycho-social outcomes of long-term care residents. In 1987 he became an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he taught macro practice and later served as Associate Dean. He returned to Minnesota in 1993 where he continued his research collaboration with the Long-Term Care Resource Center and taught in the areas of policy practice, social services to older adults (MSW Program) and social welfare policy and research (Ph.D. and M.S.W. Programs). During this time he became involved in grants initiatives to enrich the social work curriculum (“Aging Across the Curriculum”) as well as interdisciplinary initiatives to develop a curriculum for interdisciplinary team training for health care professionals such as nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and social workers. Through these he became associated with many of the recent initiatives in social work sponsored by the Hartford Foundation and currently serves as a member of the V.A. Geriatric Research. Dr. Reinardy served as director of the School of Social Work from 2008-2017. Prior to this he served administrative appointments as Associate Director, Director of Graduate Studies, and Ph.D. Program Director.

Dr. Reinardy’s exploration of older adults and decision making has taken a significant turnaround in the past few years. Although he has looked at the impact of perceived decision making on the heath, mental health, social life and satisfaction of older adults, he has done this through aggregate data and has discussed its implications for policy and system change. He took a hiatus in his work during his administrative work as director. Currently he is devoting his efforts in two areas.  First, he plans on continuing his interest in the decision making of older adults by exploring what we have learned from decision-making research and models such as Multi-Attribute Utility Theory, and combing this with our understanding of normal aging, asking what models can we develop that will best help older adults and their families sort through the many alternatives and competing values that comprise major life decisions? All of us make our share of “bad” decisions and we could all profit from learning how to better make decisions. But making good decisions is particularly important in the later years of life when there are fewer resources and less time to recoup our mistakes. Second, he has developed an interests in studying capability theory and its relationship to social justice and human rights, particularly as it may apply to social work teaching and practice.

Selected Publications

  1. Carlson, J., Nguyen, H., and Reinardy, J. (2016). Social justice and the capabilities approach: Seeking a global print for EPAS. Journal of Social Work Education, 52, Issue 3. 

  2. Reinardy, J. (2008).  Giesla Konopka.  Encyclopedia of Social Work, National Association of Social Work.

  3. Reinardy, J.R., and Zoff, Sara. (2006). Strategies for Implementing and Sustaining Gerontological Curricular Change in Social Work Education. In Burkman, B (Ed), Handbook of Social Work in Health and Aging. Oxford Press.

Selected Presentations

  1. Reinardy, J. (2017). Social Development and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Social justice from a capabilities perspective. 16th Biannual Conference on Social Development. Consortium on International Social Development, Zagreb, Croatia (July 3).

  2. Reinardy, J. (2016). Capabilities theory as a grounding for social justice. 15th Biannual Conference on Social Development. Consortium on International Social Development. (July), Seoul.

  3. Reinardy, J., and Morrissey, M. (2009). Leadership during budgetary crisis: A challenge for social work education. Council on Social Work Education Annual Program, November, 2009, San Antonio, TX.

  4. Reinardy, J., and Morrissey, M.(2007).  Leadership for change in social work education: A systems perspective. Council on Social Work Education Leadership Conference, February,  Charleston, NC.