Abstract submission will be available here soon: August 20, 2020

Deadline for submission: November 15, 2020

Response letters: February 10, 2021

Early bid fee: March, 15, 2021

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 at being 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 SWE to learn from times of uncertainty and to build on these lessons the way ahead. Social cohesion has been challenged the past decades through ongoing human rights abuses, challenges in human service delivery and human crises. European societies have been immensely challenged because of the recent socio-economic and public health crises. Both crises have challenged social welfare systems, social organization and individual lifestyles, and are raising questions about the preparedness of SWE to respond to new demands coming from students, practitioners and service users. New forms of connecting to each other; new ways of making sense of SW practice to make a difference in peoples’ lives; new pedagogical approaches to trigger transformation on students’ worldviews and its relation to the role of SW as a professions; are some of the issues raised by the present times that we aim to debate at the Conference.

Therefore, this situation raises a question: that of re-examining the skills and knowledge applied by professional social workers and, consequently, the development of innovative curriculum and training in order to respond to these new challenges. Consequently, SWE has to critically reflect on what methods, theories and practices have been developed so far to provide solutions in current crisis and what will be the lessons learnt as to build new solutions based on collaboration between different disciplines sharing common values and principles, in order to increase resilience as to maintain social cohesion, social justice and human dignity.

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


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

The call for papers will be open to all professors, students, researchers, professionals and users interested in social work related topics, and specifically social work education issues. Proposals from PhD students will be very welcome, as well as from experienced researchers and academics in the field of Social Work. Professionals and service users are also invited to participate and present their experiences. The proposals might be research-based, classroom or fieldwork-based or professional practice based. Acceptance will not privilege any particular approach; the organizing committee is engaged with a pro-diversity orientation and will be happy to accept a mix of proposals that fit within the conference themes. Parallel sessions, symposia and workshops will be subjected to a peer-review selection process.

There is a limit of two (2) presenting‐author abstract submissions per person, which applies to individual papers, papers within an organized symposium, and workshops. This rule does not apply to posters or to co-authorship of an abstract where someone else is the lead presenting author.

Authors don’t have to be EASSW members to submit an abstract and participate at conference. Reduced registration fee is applied to EASSW members.

Conference Themes

  1. Life Span in Social Work in an era of innovation

Innovation is a remarkable sign of the present societies. But are there all segments of society equally prepared for this wave? This urge for innovation have been inspiring new approaches to the lifespan and also to the way practitioners intervene throughout the lifespan. Sharing the thinking and practices on this matter, underlining potentialities and constraints should be a major contribution to SW scholars and educators.

  1. Social Work education for sceneries of exception (crisis, disasters, 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 they should be ready to elaborate on SW approaches, methodologies or projects (research or practice) focusing on areas showing innovation, co-creation and design thinking (i.e. distance learning teaching, ethics) within this thematic area.

  1. Post-traumatic approaches in Social Work

This theme deals with how social work practice and education is consolidating preparedness to tackle post-traumatic situations among users but also within 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 that promote the value of local/regional knowledge on SWE, involving service users’ knowledge.

  1. Innovative Skills for Social Work practice with distressed publics: migrants, refugees, war and conflict victims, sanitary crisis victims

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

  1. Social Work Ethics in times of uncertainty; balancing between innovation and tradition

Ethical decisions and ethical 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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Contact us

To find out more about the conference, feel free to contact us through email links below or send us a message.

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Organizers