International Summer School 2019

03.06. – 07.06.2019, Muttenz (Basel, Switzerland)

Social Work in the Digital Age

How Digital Developments and Digital Inequalities Shape Modern Discourse in Social Work Theory and Practic

Key idea

In many societies, digital incompetence is equal to social exclusion. The digital divide between privileged and underprivileged populations is rapidly expanding to the increasing advantage of the digital literate. Social work must be cognisant of the challenges facing those affected by this inequality. The main question is: How does digital inequality affect family, work, leisure, education, human rights, and ethics?

Social work has the responsibility to bridge this digital divide, to provide safe environments, to develop ethical standards, and to encourage social work students and professionals to discuss the many challenges of the impact of the digital age. To overcome and bridge the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants means to understand digital developments as fundamental human rights issues with respect to child and elderly protection, educational access, and work opportunities.

Modul contents

The 2019 Summer School aims to provide participants from various countries with an opportunity to develop a broad understanding of “the digital age,” its challenges and chances, problems and progresses, and inconsistencies. The phenomenon of digital inequalities and various related issues require close attention and critical reflection. International participants will discuss the current discourse on digital developments, new forms of media use, and different forms of inequalities with a view to developing a broad perspective on this key issue. They will consider how the new media have changed human communication and how social work has adapted to widespread digital change over the past 20 years. Other topics include how digital inequalities shape modern discourses in social work theory and practice.

Discussion will consider the risks and challenges as well as the advantages emerging from the new opportunities that digital innovations might provide for overcoming inequalities. Bridging the digital divide matters not only for social work practice but also for modern societies as a whole. From their respective international perspectives, participants will explore the modes of digital impact on social work education, theory, and practice, especially in terms of ethics, human rights, social policy agendas, and welfare regimes. The 2019 Summer School provides an excellent opportunity to build the knowledge and skills needed to deal with the many challenges associated with digital developments and inequalities. Key questions include:

  • Why do digital inequalities matter for social work practices and professionals in various contexts? Which parts of the population are especially vulnerable to digital challenges?
  • How are social work education, theory, and practice affected by the challenges stemming from the current digital and technical developments and discourses in society?
  • From a philosophical and sociological point of view, what makes the digital age a challenge for modern societies? More specifically, how does it shape social work discourses regarding digital inequality, human rights, and ethical standards?

Ability to act professionally and to develop skills for bridging the digital divide in social work theory and practice

Ability to (self-) reflection and self-regulated knowledge extension

For further informations please contact:

Dr. Regula Berger

Lecturer, Institute for Studies in Children and Youth Services, FHNW School of Social Work

Phone: +41 61 228 59 17 (direct)

Andreas Schauder
Prof. Andreas Schauder. Dipl. Ped.

Lecturer, University Centre, FHNW School of Social Work