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International Summer School 2022

Summer School 2022 “Sustainability and Social Work – Sustainable Social Work?”, June 7th until June 10th, 2022 (Muttenz)

Sustainability and Social Work – Sustainable Social Work?

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” On behalf of all members, the UN issued a global call to end poverty and to promote human development. It also declared the need for a global commitment to an action plan aimed at protecting the planet and human beings. The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals include numerous targets that highlight the future challenges concerning the “5 Ps” of sustainability: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The SDGs are without doubt the most important concept of global development and are based on a firm commitment to humanity, human rights, and environmental sustainability. The SDGs represent a global agenda for the next 15 years, until 2030, which can only be achieved if all nations, professions, and individuals act together in a global network on the macro, meso, and micro level.  “Social workers around the globe offer crucial professional insights that are urgently needed in these conversations and actions. Consequently it is essential that social workers take on the responsibility of active partnership in addressing the UN SDGs and advancing the discussions within and beyond these. Social workers should similarly participate in and contribute to the exchanges, and become developers, partners and implementers of the intended change process” (IFSW 2020).

However: What is the basic understanding of “sustainability”? And which approaches exist to find solutions to today’s social, ecological, and economic challenges?

This Summer School module will explore basic statements about and predictions of sustainability. It will discuss the relevance of the paradigm of sustainable development for social work as a discipline and profession. It will consider the different international contexts, perspectives, challenges, opportunities, threats, and responsibilities of social workers and social agencies.  We will examine the critical aspects, and also the apparent contradictions, of the SDG concept in various presentations and workshops. Other topics include different models of sustainability and innovative practices.

Key Questions

  • Which political, social, ecological, economic, cultural, and historical dimensions describe the idea of sustainability? Which models, theories, concepts, and understandings of “sustainability” exist?
  • In which ways is the UN’s approach to sustainability relevant to, or indeed significant for, professional social work?
  • What about the interconnectedness of sustainability with the values and ethics of social work?
  • Which roles do politics, communities, NGOs, and social workers play in terms of sustainability?
  • Which models of and approaches to “social sustainability” have already been implemented and evaluated in the field of social work?


If you like to share keynotes please write an email to Mrs. Barbara Holzherr (barbara.holzherr@fhnw.ch) and you’ll receive a connecting zoom-link.

If you like to participate in the whole Summer School program please contact Mrs. Barbara Holzherr (barbara.holzherr@fhnw.ch) and you’ll receive the registration form.
(Deadline for application: April 30th, 2022).

For further information please contact:

Prof. Dr. Thomas Geisen

Lecturer, Institute for Integration and Participation, FHNW School of Social Work

Andreas Schauder
Prof. Andreas Schauder. Dipl. Ped.

Lecturer, University Centre, FHNW School of Social Work