Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview
Paper Presentation Session 17: Social Work Program/Curriculum I
Thursday, 17/June/2021:
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Session Chair: Matthias Stefan Kachel
Location: Parallel Session 2

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"Nobody taught us that, we just did it ourselves" - the state of civics education in Social Work programmes in Germany

Matthias Stefan Kachel1,2

1Katholische Stiftungshochschule München, Germany; 2BayWISS Promotionskolleg Sozialer Wandel

There is an ongoing debate in German Social Work theory if Social Work is, can be, or should be a political profession. There are three opinions among scholars that answer either with a wholehearted “yes”, a skeptic “yes, but…” and a resounding “no”. And even if the answer is yes, political activity of social workers is often described as “Einmischung”, which can be translated as “interference” or “meddling” and therefore undermines the critical role that social workers play in the welfare state. This debate is not only affecting scholarly debate, but also the education of social workers throughout Germany. There seem to exist many different approaches to teaching – or not teaching – social work students civics and political skills as there are schools of social work – thus, political knowledge and interest, practical skills, preparation and ability to speak politically can differ dramatically among social workers – which, in turn, affects the ability and readiness for political action. This is also visible in the low numbers of German social workers that are organized in unions.

For my doctoral thesis, I am currently comparing ten different Social Work curricula at as many Schools of Social Work in Germany. My goal is to find out if and how future social workers are receiving – or are at least able to receive – training for political situations and political work and if the skills taught are the ones that are needed in practice. As work on my thesis progresses, I let students of social work and social workers discuss my findings about “their” study programme in focus groups while also asking if the skills taught on paper are also the ones that are taught in reality – and if they are the ones that are needed in practice. I wish to present my findings so far in my presentation.


Aila-Leena Matthies

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

A sustainable social foundation for human life can only develop in an inherent interdependence with the overall ecological ceiling and regenerative economy. How this relates to social work education, will be discussed in this presentation. This paper presents a new unique doctoral training project ASTRA (2020-2024) funded by the European Commission in the frame of the H2020 program, involving 15 Social Work doctoral students around the world.

ASTRA paves the way for a radically new approach to tackle the major societal challenges faced in the practice of social work. This is done by combining transdisciplinary sustainability transition research, policies and practices in social work. The combination creates a novel scientific domain and establishes new transformative standards of social work doctoral training in Europe. Within this frame, the recruited doctoral students focus in their research on the challenge of social inclusion of young people in precariousness situations as well as people with a migration background in vulnerable communities. In participatory research with the target groups, social work methods are co-created as steps of the transition towards sustainable and inclusive society. The potential of the following methodic models are investigated: nature-based well-being, environmental justice, circular and solidarity economy, sustainable food policies with vulnerable communities, ecosocial innovations and contributive justice. The practice-research methodology of social work is applied by the ASTRA consortium, which consists of leading European social work academics involved in sustainability transition research and two non-academic research organisations for environmental and economic sustainability. The diversity of the outstanding partner organisations working on sustainability transition in practice deepens the transdisciplinary approach. The innovative practice-related solutions and fundamentally new types of research-based knowledge will have a long-term impact not only on social work but on society and science at large. ASTRA offers the ESRs novel career perspectives in transdisciplinary research, cross-sectoral policy-making and new economic models at the local, national and European level.

Education of Social Workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina for activities in extra-ordinary situations – between (no)experience and needs for capacity development

Draško Gajić1, Vesna Šućur-Janjetović2

1Faculty of Political Sciences, Bosnia and Herzegovina; 2Faculty of Political Sciences, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Experiences in dealing with extra-ordinary situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, first of all, dealing with floods in 2004, and now dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, are clearly showing that we need a better preparation of social workers for activities in extra-ordinary situations. Up to present, Social workers in Bosnia and Herzegovina have shown, within the frame of legal and professional obligations, more or less a profound readiness and have been successful in their activities, good cooperation with other agents obliged to act within the system of social protection and saving people lives at the level of local communities that were flooded.

Up to present experiences of social workers employed in the local Social Welfare Centers, can be problematized through a simple question, such as: Have we, and to what extent, prepared for reaction in extra-ordinary situations? Do we have necessary knowledge with regard to activities in extra-ordinary situations? What have we leant from the previous situations? The experiences and such questions led us towards acknowledging the fact that we need to plan and prepare better for extra-ordinary situations. Better preparation includes changes of curriculums in education of social workers, meaning that knowledge on professional positioning, organization and activities in newly faced extra-ordinary situation, must be included.

As a final result of the above-mentioned academic activities, the faculties in Bosnia and Herzegovina that are educating future social workers have started the process of establishing a new subject/unit whose learning objective is to prepare students/future social workers for organizing and acting within the system of social welfare, in extra-ordinary situations. The starting point of this new subject is conceptualized through a holistic perspective in risk management, which should ease the work of social workers and other employees in Social Welfare Centers, when it comes to their positioning, in line with the normative, institutional and professional actions in extra-ordinary situations.

Education as a response to Migration Challenges: Innovations in Curricula on Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration

Violeta Markovic, Anita Burgund Isakov, Nevenka Žegarac

Faculty of Political Sciences University of Belgrade, Serbia

Contemporary society is facing with a rise in migration – children are moving for a variety of reasons, voluntarily or involuntarily, within or between countries, with or without their caretakers, and that places them at increased risk of economic or sexual exploitation, abuse, neglect and violence, therefore, the needs to educate social workers on these issues is inevitable. This paper discusses gains and challenges in developing, conducting and evaluating course on protection of children faced with mixed migration in era of restricted physical contacts due to global pandemic challenge in search for the ways to continue the process of teaching and learning at Universities in a meaningful way.

Since 2015 Serbia has experienced refugee and migrant crisis with more than 1 mil of people transiting, out of which every third a child – many of them in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. As one of the ways to respond to these challenges, Department for Social policy and Social Work at University of Belgrade developed a course Protection of Children Affected by Mixed Migration. The course was developed as a result of thorough literature review and consultations with relevant front-line professionals and policy makers, and also with refugee and migrant children in Serbia. Innovative course is part of a wider project “Co-Creation of Knowledge and Building of Expertise for the Protection of Children Affected by Migration and Forced Displacement”.

Protection of children affected by mixed migration is multidisciplinary course with the aim to enhance the capacities of students as well as practitioners working with children affected by mixed migration. It contains 8 modules covering topics related to social protection, child protection (CP), gender-based violence (GBV), the international and regional framework around mixed migration. The course is piloted with students of third and fourth year of bachelor studies of social work and professionals form different agencies and services engaged in work with those children. The results will be analysed after piloting the course, in line with evaluation from course participants and professionals working with migrant and refugee children in Serbia.

Involving Urban Residents in an International Blended Learning Course: Challenges and Opportunities for Social Work Education

Mieke Schrooten1, Sirppa Kinos2, Erik Claes1, Hugh McLaughlin3, Peter Hendriks4, Judit Csoba5

1Odisee University of Applied Sciences, Belgium; 2Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland; 3Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom; 4HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the Netherlands; 5University of Debrecen, Hungary

Background: Throughout Europe (sub)urban areas are facing complex challenges. These challenges manifest themselves in an accumulation and intersection of conflicts and fracture lines between individuals, groups, cultures, classes, communities, networks, but also between groups and their institutional and political environments (governments, criminal justice systems, schools, social service providers, youth care, et cetera).

Objectives: In the ongoing Erasmus+ project ‘Urban diversities: challenges for social work’, five European schools of social work seek to co-create a fresh understanding of urban complexities and tensions and to identify, co-produce and refine skills for educating social workers to recognize and effectively work with these complexities and tensions.

Methods: The project brings students, residents of superdiverse urban neighbourhoods, social service providers and teachers together in a joint learning process. By working towards co-production, we aim to fully invest in the agency and capability of all stakeholders to contribute to the resolution of current and future urban complexities, to play an active role in democratic life, foster social cohesion, enhance intercultural understanding and sense of belonging to a community.

Results: Concretely, we are developing and implementing a blended learning course, consisting of a community service-learning trajectory at the local level, combined with transnational exchange on a digital platform. The pilot of this course took place in the current academic year. In this paper, we first situate the background of the project. Then we present the design and the guiding principles of the course.

Discussion: We end by discussing our experiences and reflections on the rollout of this course focussing on the involvement of urban residents in the transnational exchange on the one hand and piloting the course in the current COVID-19 situation on the other hand.

Between the lockdown of universities and the new reality: students reflections for the co-creation of a social work curriculum in the 21st century

Rita Cláudia Oliveira Barata1, Antonela Jesus2

1Iscte - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal; 2Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Online education is consolidated in several countries, although the involvement of social work with technological innovations is late and complex due to its relational nature introducing tensions in a context of distance learning (Siebert & Spaulding-Givens, 2006). The closure of universities and the transition to online education due to the COVID-19 crisis, led to a period of change in contexts characterized by face-to-face education (McFadden et al., 2020). This transformation underlies a reflection on the mixed results regarding online teaching in this discipline (Lee, Hernandez & Marshall Jr., 2019), including the problematization of the impacts felt by students in the current context, the least satisfaction with the face-to-face model (Dinh & Nguyen, 2020) and the deepening of their preferences (Groton & Spadola, 2020). With this background, this study explores the perspectives of social work students of the bachelor's degree in Portugal on experiences in the online teaching-learning process, through the deepening of the following aspects: i) difficulties and advantages associated with the transition to online format in accessibility, flexibility and structuring; ii) overall levels of satisfaction of online education, in terms of organization, content, pedagogical practices, involvement and interaction between peers and teachers; iii) levels of satisfaction and importance attributed to different teaching methods, identifying typologies and prevalence; iv) good organizational, pedagogical and peer practices that demonstrate innovation or that can recommend suggestions for the reconstruction of curricula and practices. Data collection was carried out with an online survey, with open and closed questions (according to the dimensions identified), and participants were recruited from social networks. The data obtained through the closed questions of the survey are subject of treatment and quantitative analysis, with descriptive statistics, with the SPSS software. Qualitative data analysis was conducted through content analysis. We conclude the presentation with the implications of the students' perspective to identify innovative practices and the possibility to rethink curricula and practices for the post-pandemic future and eventual moments of crisis.

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