Luz Avruj 

Latin American Center for Solidarity Service-Learning, Argentina  


10,00 - 10,30 Service-learning in Social Work Education in Slovakia

Alžbeta Brozmanová Gregorová

Matej Bel University, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

The presentation will share the contexts and experiences from service-learning implementation in social work education at Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. It will present the different models of service-learning and concrete examples of implemented projects. It also includes the presentation about the research results focused on the evaluation of the service-learning as a model of the professional practice in social work education. The research results showed that service-learning could fulfill several professional practice functions and minimum standards of professional practice in social work education in Slovakia. Our findings declare that service-learning can react to actual social work challenges from the beginning of social workers' professionalization.

Watch the video from the presentation here. 

Michaela Skyba

University of Presov in Presov, Slovakia 

Social work and school social work are often linked in Slovak conditions to a vague vision of its nature, specifics, and mission. Practice shows that school social work is still considered an underdeveloped and at the same time a much-needed area of social work. The importance of service-learning is also evident in the development of awareness and interest of social work students in the school environment, which proves to be important with regard to the fact that school social work is a relatively "new" service in Slovakia.  The main focus of the presentation is to present the experience with service learning primarily in the field of school social work, but also in other areas of social work at the Institute of Educology and Social Work (Faculty of Arts, the University of Presov in Presov), which enables students to gain theoretical knowledge related to the provision of a specific service, provides space to use their abilities in a meaningful way for the benefit of the community and space to gain experience with selfless help to others. In this regard, the institute also allows students to gain a sense of direct participation in solving organizations' problems as team members.

 Watch the video from the presentation here.


10,30 - 11,00 Implementation of Service-Learning in the Czech Republic

Tatiana Matulayová 

Charles University in Prague, Czech republic 

Innovation in higher education, especially different forms of collaboration with employers is a highly discussed issue in the Czech Republic. Despite the different innovative projects, is Service-Learning unknown. The aim of the presentation is to introduce our model of implementation Service-Learning in the whole master program Family Social Work. We will present the results of a research reflection on the benefits of Service - Learning from the perspective of both the students involved, teaching organizations, and clients. The results of the research show that all stakeholders involved consider Service-Learning to be beneficial. The main benefits are as follows: the development of partnerships between the university and organizations in practice, the co-creation of new knowledge, and the opportunity to verify the possibilities of introducing social innovations in practice. Students confirmed when doing the final assessment that they perceive they made some progress in many key competencies. The development of competencies and the benefits for teaching practice were also claimed by the teachers involved as very useful.

 Watch the video from the presentation here.


11,30 - 12,30 Evolving practices towards Social work in the 21st Century


Cuzette du Plessis and Alida van Dyk

University of Limpopo, South Afrika 

If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow. — John Dewey

This paper will reflect on our own evolving practices, in aligning student learning with the emerging community and environmental priorities. We embarked on a process of moving beyond WIL learning, to incorporate service-learning into formal social work curricula and training. We will address the challenges of changing traditional academic boundaries, and2the value of utilising engaged research as model for service-learning. The importance of transforming curricula, practical work, and project planning through the inclusion of student and community voices, autonomy and self-selection based on voluntary informed consent will be highlighted.How should we embed social work training and practice in a complex and changing world? Our existence on planet earth is increasingly fragile despite biological and technological advancements. Climate and weather-related disasters surged five-fold over the past 50 years, disproportionately impacting on poorer countries. Urban conflict currently affects 50 million people. Approximately 925 million people are suffering from hunger. The United Nations World Water Development Report stated that nearly 60% of the world will suffer from clean water scarcity by 2050. Thirty years onwards we will need to produce 60% more food to feed an estimated world population of between 9.4 and 10.2 billion.To do so sustainably we need to revisit our relationship with the natural world. It asks for an approach where we value our relationship between nature and the society and where environmental protection is inherent to the concept of sustainable development.The complexity of our changing world asks the social work profession to broaden its knowledge base and work across disciplines to search for sustainable solutions. Human autonomy and self-determination cannot escape our symbiotic relationship with ecological, social, economic, biological, and political systems. In South Africa traditional field placements for social work students and other helping professions at non-profit welfare organisations and state departments became under threat due to the limited capacity on a variety of fronts including, severe budget restraints, basic resources, infra-structure, staff, and disproportionally high workloads. In responding to these realities service-learning centres for social work students focussing on applied social work learning directed at the needs of the community were developed. In the first half of our presentation, we will elaborate on the functions and role of a service-learning centre augmented by social work students’ experiences doing practical work at a service-learning centre.Working in collaboration with communities and students we became increasingly aware that social work could and should benefit from, but so too contribute to disciplines across faculty. One strategy was to open social work modules as an elective to other disciplines. Engaged research provided another opportunity for us as social work professionals to move beyond the boundaries of the discipline, facilitating two-way interactive processes3between researchers and the community purposefully creating opportunities for dialogue, listening, learning and co-discovery of new knowledge.Our presentation hopes to share practice examples of our evolving narrative with student learning, and to invite critical discussion on positioning social work training aligned with future realities.

Watch the video from the presentation here.


13,30 - 14,30 Social Work and service-learning experiencies. The "Program of Training and Strengthening for Social and Community Organizations"


Martin Ierullo and Bárbara Labecky

University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

The University of Buenos Aires is the premier institution of higher education in Argentina and one of the most prestigious universities of Ibero-America and the world. It has more than 300,000 students and 85 carriers organized into 13 independent faculties. Social Work integrates the Faculty of Social Sciences. Approximately 2,000 students are currently enrolled in the Social Work carrier. Each student completes three years of pre-professional practices, which represent an academic training strategy for students and an opportunity to provide service to the community through insertion in governmental and non-governmental institutions. In addition, the Faculty of Social Sciences has different extension projects, including the "Program of Training and Strengthening for Social and Community Organizations". Students, graduates, and teachers from the different careers of the Faculty participate in this program. The program began in 2002 (in the context of a serious social and economic crisis in Argentina) and continues uninterrupted to the present. Its objective is to consolidate the relationship between the Faculty of Social Sciences and community associative experiences. The program has worked with over 2,000 community organizations. The organizations are mostly located in poor areas of Buenos Aires and were formed to attend to the social needs of their communities. They are a heterogeneous group among them are cultural, sports, religious associations; mutuals and cooperatives; community kitchen, community early childhood care centers, etc. The program has developed different lines of action: training courses for community leaders based on popular education strategies, technical and financial support for social projects developed by the organizations, systematization of experiences, and production of different audiovisual material. Moreover, the program has a weekly radio program on the UBA radio and has organized a fair called "Che Pueblo" in which products made by organizations are marketed. This experience has meant a contribution to the local implementation of public policies and to provide a space to exchange experiences and to train community leaders. It has also contributed to the academic training of students involved in the program, who have had the chance to apply knowledge and learn from the rich experiences of the communities. The extension program has articulated with different teaching and research teams, facilitating synergy between the processes of teaching, research, and university extension.

Watch the video from the presentation here.


15,00 - 16,00 An Integrated Model of Social Work Field Education and International Service-Learning: Benefits and Challenges


Rebecca Davis

Rutgers University School of Social Work in New Jersey, USA

This presentation first explores two parallel themes, social work field education and international service-learning, and then reflects on the benefits and challenges of an integrated model using a case study from an international field placement in Romania. Practice-based learning in social work education, identified by various titles including internship, practicum, field education, etc., has often been called the “signature pedagogy” of social work education (Wayne et al., 2010). Given that social work is a profession, like other professions such as law, education, and medicine, theoretical and practical learning are key for ensuring a competent workforce, and ultimately, quality services.  Given that social workers practice within the socio-cultural-political context, practice learning has the potential to negatively impact student learning.  Identifying oppressive practices in the workplace can be a challenge even for the most experienced professional, much less the student learner who may feel less empowered to acknowledge discriminatory practices. Practice-based learning should incorporate critical reflections on hierarchies and power-differentials within the social-cultural-political context of organizations and the helping relationship. Field educators and instructors can underestimate the value of critical reflection in discriminatory learning when more focused on learning the operations and tasks over process.  Being aware of how social work students achieve or do not achieve their learning objectives in field education is of paramount importance (Papouli, 2014), especially when the learning is counter to social work values. This can even more of a challenge for international field placements when students are learning within a new socio-cultural-political context.   Situating field education within a reciprocal service-learning model can have mutual educational benefits for the student learner and the host agency and community. The basic philosophy of service-learning is reciprocal – there is reciprocal learning and problem-solving between the student learner and host community organizations (Collopy et al, 2019).  This philosophy dates to Robert Sigmon’s work in the early 1970’s as an approach to building democratic communities (Augustine et al., 2017). Today, the term “service-learning” refers to experiential learning in a wide range of settings. The tremendous growth in service-learning and community engagement (SLCE) programs in higher education, both domestic and international, has served to advance a range of goals from global citizenship to linking academic achievement and civic responsibility. Like traditional field education, service-learning has the potential to perpetuate existing systems of class and privilege and reinforce deficit-based views of marginalized social groups rather than challenging them. Introducing critical reflective practices as part of the service-learning experience that align with social justice principles, encourage reciprocal student-community learning outcomes, while challenging the status quo (Augustine et al., 2017).  A partnership between social work programs at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA and Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania has laid the foundation for advancing this integrative model of field education and international service-learning that emphasizes reciprocity and critical reflective practices. Beginning in 2010, Rutgers University School of Social Work (RUSSW) initiated a study abroad program in Cluj, Romania in partnership with the Social Work Program at Babes-Bolyai University (UBB) that had a 2-week service-learning experience. Then in 2017, we formalized the summer program as an international field placement in partnership with UBB embedded within the local, community and social service NGO’s.  Using the Romania Study Abroad Program as a case study, this presentation highlights the pedagogical principles of a justice-oriented service-learning model (Augustine et al., 2017) that is situated within best practices in child welfare, critical reflective practices, and Social Work Education Competencies. It will explore the Romania Program as one example of an integrated service-learning and social work field education model that reflects reciprocity, with mutual benefits for student learners and the receiving communities and organizations. Student reflective practices, before, during, and after the program are presented with personal highlights of learning experiences from program participants.

Watch the video from the presentation here.