Abstract Submission and Registration

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 November 2020

Response letters: 10 February 2021

Registration and payment will be opened in February 2021 after response letters. Our wish is to have a physical conference, nevertheless, due to COVID-19, we will reassess the situation in February before opening registration. Conference will take place, either physically or virtually!

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Innovation and Resilience: Preparedness of Social Work Education in Uncertain Times

The European Association of Schools of Social Work and the Tallinn University, Estonia announce the 2021 European Conference on Social Work Education, which aims be an international forum for debating innovation, concerns, challenges and practices in social work education.

The overarching themes of the conference are innovation, resilience and preparedness of social work education (SWE) to learn from times of uncertainty and build on these lessons for the future. Social cohesion has been challenged in the past decades through ongoing human rights abuse, challenges in human service delivery and human crises. At the same time, European societies have been immensely challenged as a result of the recent socio-economic and public health crises. These have resulted in challenges for social welfare systems, social organisation and individual lifestyles. Therefore, issues and questions are rising on the preparedness of SWE to respond to new demands for students, practitioners and service users, including new forms of liaising within and between these groups of people, new ways of making sense of SW practice and its impact on peoples’ lives as well as how this can make a difference and new pedagogical approaches to trigger the transformation of SW students’ worldview. This conference aims to address such issues through rigorous and challenging discussions.

We hope to able to address and find answers to a rather crucial a question – that of re-examining the skills and knowledge applied by professional social workers and, consequently, the development of innovative SW curriculum and training to respond to these new challenges. Consequently, SWE must critically reflect on methods, theories and practices that have been developed thus far, to be a lead actor in addressing current crises in a meaningful way. Lessons must be learnt to build new solutions, which enhance collaboration between disciplines and fields of study that share common values. The task must be none other than to increase resilience and maintain social cohesion, social justice and human dignity.

Concepts of social innovation comprise of normative viewpoints, which focus on changing social structures to increase social justice and ensure resilience. This is often done by empowering disadvantaged groups of people (social intrapreneurship) and pragmatic approaches that highlight feasible (often technical) and novel solutions (social entrepreneurship and digital technologies) for social problems. Thus, social innovations do not remain at the level of abstract goals or plans but imply the intentional restructuring of social practices. Routine-based practices in general, along with pedagogical and organisational practices, are also considered important resources for social innovation. Hence, social innovation in education implies changes in knowledge resources, actor constellations, social practices and discourses of education.

By creating transformative social initiatives that engage SW educators, service users, researchers and students, society can collectively improve in times of uncertainty. Collaborative approaches, co-creative practices, are also part of an emerging framework for SW and SWE. Therefore, we invite SW educators, researchers, students, service users and practitioners to debate on experiences and research related to SWE and practice, aiming to build a culture of innovation and engage all social partners in building social cohesion during these challenging times. Moreover, the conference theme will provide the forum for the elaboration of SW theories, models and interventions and help social workers, educators and practitioners in developing innovative educational approaches that enhance skills and knowledge to increase the resilience of all involved parties during times of crisis and uncertainty.

The call for papers will be open to all academics, students, researchers, professionals and users interested in SW-related topics, and specifically SWE issues. The conference also welcomes proposals from PhD students, as well as ongoing research from experienced researchers and academics in the field of SW. Further, professionals and service users are invited to participate and present their experiences. The proposals may be research-based, classroom- or fieldwork-based or professional practice-based. Acceptance will not privilege any particular approach; the organising committee is pro-diversity orientated and will be happy to accept a mix of proposals that fit the conference themes. Parallel sessions, symposia and workshops will be subject to a peer-review selection process.

Abstracts are limited to two (2) submissions per single presenting author, which applies to individual papers, papers within an organised symposium and workshops. This rule does not apply to posters or the co-authorship of an abstract where someone else is the lead presenting author.

Authors do not have to be EASSW members to submit an abstract and participate in the conference. A reduced registration fee is applied to EASSW members.

Conference Themes

  1. Lifespan and SW in an Era of Innovation

Radical and constant innovation is a characteristic of present societies. However, are all elements of our societies equally prepared to accept this? This urge for innovation has inspired new approaches to the lifespan and the way practitioners intervene throughout the lifespan. Sharing thoughts and practices on this matter that underlining potentialities and constraints should be a major contribution to SW scholars and educators.

  1. SWE for Sceneries of Exception (Crises, Disasters and Unexpected Events)

This thematic unit consists of themes related to SWE and how recent crises have shaped or will affect SW curriculums and skills. In particular, presenters choosing to submit their abstract under this thematic unit should be ready to elaborate on SW approaches, methodologies or projects (research or practice) focusing on areas that show innovation, co-creation and design thinking (i.e., distance learning teaching and ethics) within this area.

  1. Post-Traumatic Approaches in SW

This theme deals with how SW practice and education is consolidating the preparedness to tackle post-traumatic situations among users and professionals.

  1. Innovative SW Teaching Practices Involving Service Users

Presenters who choose to apply under this thematic area are expected to provide knowledge derived from research, practice and educational methods to promote the value of local and/or regional knowledge on SWE, which involves service users’ knowledge.

  1. Innovative Skills for SW Practice with Distressed Groups: Migrants, Refugees, War and Conflict Victims and Health Crises Victims

Presentations in this thematic group will elaborate on projects, methodologies and practice skills that promote innovative skills, working with service users on the margins of society. In particular, presenters are invited to share their research projects, teaching methods and SW practices with groups such as migrants, refugees, health crises victims, families facing new challenges and mental health issues during challenging times.

  1. SW Ethics in Times of Uncertainty: Balancing Innovation and Tradition

Ethical decisions and dilemmas are particularly complex in contemporary times. This complexity should be shared and debated, also concerning its implications for SWE and classroom practices with students.

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