International Summer School 2024, Muttenz (3–7 June 2024)
Over the last decades, social work in conflict zones has been perceived largely as marginal to the profession and discipline and as confined to the Global South. However, climate change and the war in Ukraine have shifted this predominantly Western view towards a more comprehensive perspective on global relations and conditions. Whereas in the West social work has focused mostly on welfare and development, in many countries in the Global South it has concentrated on crises and conflicts. This includes attending to basic human needs, healthcare and trauma, and conflict mediation. This attention to such fundamental challenges is reflected partly in the global definition of social work formulated by the International Federation of Social Work:
«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.» (IFSW 2014)
The global perspective in social work has been strengthened by the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which demand change at the global, national, local and individual levels. The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 «as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated – they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Countries have committed to prioritize progress for those who’re furthest behind. The SDGs are designed to end poverty, hunger, AIDS, and discrimination against women and girls.» (UN, 2022)
Given these developments, there is an increased need for social work professionals capable of undertaking both community work and case management for the benefit of those in need. Social work professionals have the skills and knowledge to contribute to sustainability and social innovation. Such professional capacity is much-needed in conflict-ridden and wartorn regions. Nevertheless, pressing questions need to be addressed: How can social work meet today’s challenges and thus contribute to establishing peace and social welfare in times of conflict and to initiating fundamental change and social transformation.
The 2024 Summer School will address these questions from a global perspective by focusing on theoretical approaches to sustainable global social work as well as on selected empirical cases.