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
What are the current challenges that confront social workers in heterogenic societies and how can the evolving theories of social justice and human rights contribute to the development of knowledge for practical application? These fundamental questions formed the basis of the international ERIS conference on Social Justice and Diversity that took place from 8th to the 10th October 2018 in the University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn, Austria. The realities of migration societies and the accompanying issues of equality, rights and ethics have recently resulted in an intense level of critical public discourse within journalistic, educational, political and academic circles.
This conference was designed as a scientific exploration of these debates, providing 30 diverse lectures by social work academics and practitioners from over eleven different countries in Europe and North America. The conference’s core element involved the delivery of five keynote lectures by European experts covering a wide spectrum of themes ranging from anti-discriminatory practice, critical whiteness, human rights in the profession, the evolving public mandate of social work and social justice with regard to loss and death. These thought-provoking presentations were complemented by seven workshops, each addressing a particular perspective on the general issues of the conference. The participants were able to listen, and actively contribute, to debates on various issues including, amongst others, integrative work with Romanian Roma, cultural identity models of young refugees, gender and poverty, anti-racist educational work and an extensive report from members of the ERIS board on the current state of social work with refugees. The space and time to debate and reflect was not just confined to the formal lectures and workshops but was also to be found in the numerous informal conversations held between professors, practitioners and students during the refreshments breaks and the evening programmes. These presented an ideal opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions relating to both theoretical concepts and active strategies in the practice. The conference concluded with an opportunity to visit Austrian social work institutions specialising in the fields of gender, youth and refugee work, balancing the abstraction of theoretical discourse with an inspirational experience of actual practice methodology.
Prof. (FH) Doris Böhler, MA
Updated: 13. 11. 2018