Posted on Friday 10th February 2012
In December 2011, ten social work students from the University of Birmingham (UoB) went with a teaching team of two academics, Dawn River and Surinder Guru, and two service users, Laura Billing and Paul Roberts, on an international exchange trip to Nuremberg.
During their time in Nuremberg, the Birmingham students joined together with German social work students to take part in professional interdisciplinary discussions and visit community-based projects and statutory social work agencies. Alongside this, the UoB teaching team ran workshops on 'Coping with Counter-Terrorism', Recovery through the Arts, and Service User and Carer Involvement in Social Work Education.
Since returning to the UK, one of the Birmingham students has been invited to return to Nuremberg to carry out German/UK-based research on a project aimed at promoting the social inclusion of children with disabilities through online gaming. Many of our other students have maintained an international dialogue with colleagues they met in Germany through social networking sites and professional discussion forums.
Dawn is currently working on a journal article with German academics and British service users. The article will discuss partnership working with service users and carers at the UoB and the way this was modelled during the exchange trip to Nuremberg. It is hoped this will open up a dialogue about the ways service users and carers might be integrated into social work education in Germany.
In addition to its links with Nuremberg, we have also been developing links with Rotterdam. In March, twenty Dutch social work students will be visiting the University of Birmingham to participate in an Erasmus programme. The programme will include presentations on Juvenile Justice and the UK Riots; Challenging Assumptions when Working with Vulnerable People and Islamophobia. There will also be the opportunity for UoB students to introduce visiting students to the work they are doing on their practice placements, e.g. at the Sweet Project and the Martineau Garden Project.
Internationalising the qualifying social work programmes
Dawn and Surinder are developing the Erasmus project to support the Institute of Applied Social Studies' commitment to internationalising the social work programmes. As members of International Committee of JUCSWEC (Joint Social Work Council Education Committee), they have been collaborating with other UK universities, seeking to promote an understanding of the way the international context impacts upon our understanding and approach to local profesional practice.
If you would like to know more about the Erasmus International Exchange Programme, please contact either Dawn River, firstname.lastname@example.org or Surinder Guru, email@example.com.