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Social Justice and Diversity – Models in Social Work Research, Practice and Education


Social Justice and Diversity – Models in Social Work Research, Practice and Education
from 8th –10th of October 2018
at the Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences (FH Vorarlberg)
Dornbirn, Austria

A joint cooperation between the FH Vorarlberg, European Research Institute for Social Work (ERIS) and Internationale Bodensee Hochschule (IBH)

Why is it necessary for social work to focus on concepts of social justice and diversity?

As the definition of social work has progressively developed, the concepts of human rights and social justice have become increasingly important in the search for common professional standards that retain a universal applicability. In the latest definition, we read that “Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledges, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.” (IFSW/IASSW 2014)

The 2014 global definition reflects a clear developmental response within social work to the social problems of globalization and the impact upon the wellbeing of our clients. The refugee situation that Europe experienced in the summer of 2015 has seen widespread political reactions on a national level, but social work needs to address such problems with a mandate that reaches over and above its country’s borders, one that requires an understanding of global issues and local strategies. A decreasing number of European refugee arrivals in 2017 contrasts with corresponding increases in global movements of internally displaced peoples and refugees (UNHCR statistics), providing just one of the clear challenges that face contemporary social workers working towards global social justice. Furthermore, issues of European solidarity, coupled with a rising nationalism within EU member states, have contributed to wide-ranging debates regarding the professional mandate of social work. As social justice does not stop at national borders, social work requires responses that are embedded in the concepts of “social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities”. With this in mind, the commentary to the global social work definition highlights that “in solidarity with those who are disadvantaged, the profession strives to alleviate poverty, liberate the vulnerable and oppressed, and promote social inclusion and social cohesion. ... In some instances, “doing no harm” and “respect for diversity” may represent conflicting and competing values, for example where in the name of culture the rights, including the right to life, of groups such as women and homosexuals, are violated” (IFSW/IASSW 2014).

Complex social problems require a solid scientific knowledge base for social work research, practice and education, alongside the competences and skills to address and develop anti-discriminatory practice to support vulnerable groups within our societies. This conference will therefore present models of research, theory and practice that address these challenges.

To further develop international, national and regional cooperation and knowledge exchange we would welcome presentations that focus on one of the following themes. These will inform the debates that will take place throughout the conference.

  1. Social justice in theory and practice
  2. Social work as a human rights profession
  3. Diversity, intersectionality and anti-discriminatory practice
  4. Mandates of the social work profession
  5. Health, social capital and well-being in facing life challenges

About the conference

This conference draws together social work educators, researchers and practitioners as a platform to share, enhance and expand their understanding of social justice and diversity in professional social work practice. It will take place at the University of Applied Sciences Vorarlberg, which is located in Dornbirn, Vorarlberg. The Austrian Region of Vorarlberg is situated in the Rhine valley, near Lake Constance, where the borders of three countries meet – Switzerland, Germany and Liechtenstein. You will be invited to take part in field trips, which offer the unique opportunity to connect and engage with stakeholders of social work practice, research and education in Vorarlberg. This is an excellent opportunity for networking while experiencing the beautiful natural scenery and cultural heritage of this region.

Participation in the conference is open to anyone interested in social justice and diversity in social work. We invite social work researchers, educators, practitioners, Ph.D. and postgraduate students to submit an abstract proposal. Contributions need to cover a 20-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute audience Q&A. A selection of papers that are accepted will be published in the conference proceedings.

Abstract Submission Guidelines

  • Author names and contact details
  • Title of the presentation: up to 85 characters, all upper-case letters
  • Body outlining background, methods, results, and conclusions: up to 2000 characters
  • 5 Keywords

Deadline for abstract submissions: 30.03.2018
Submission via e-mail: socialjustice2018@fhv.at
Notification of abstract disposition by the Scientific Committee: 01.05.2018

For more information, please e-mail: socialjustice2018@fhv.at


Zveřejněno / aktualizováno: 24. 01. 2018

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