May 02nd 2024

13th European Conference for Social Work Research

The future of Social Work in the digital age: International exchange at the ECSWR in Vilnius

“Envisioning Future: Social Work Research and Discourse in the Age of Industry 4.0” was the title of the 13th European Conference for Social Work Research (ECSWR) held recently in Vilnius, Lithuania, with over 500 participants from all over the world. The conference is the largest annual event for Social Work Research in Europe and the primary space for members of the European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA) to meet and get to know each other, share high-quality research and expertise, and build collaborative relationships and networks.

The central theme of this year's conference highlighted Social Work Research in the context of technological innovations that will shape Social Work interactions, relationships, interventions, and practices in the future.

The digitalization of Social Work is also a central topic in teaching and research at our department at the MCI. For example, we have been working on the FFG project “A digital guide to social problems: The Social Route Plan for western Austria” for three years. The aim of this collaborative and interdisciplinary project is to create a digital tool that people in need of support, their relatives, and social workers can use to find social facilities and services that can help people seeking support to overcome their problems.

Our colleague Thomas Dierker gave two presentations related to this project at the conference in Vilnius. One was about user participation in the development of social services and the other was about the approaches of co-production and service design for Social Work service development - both with reference to the development of the Digital Social Route Plan.

In addition, the conference offered the opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers and practitioners from Social Work on the challenges of digitalization and other topics, to establish new contacts and networks and to get inspiration for future teaching and research projects.

Thomas Dierker at the European Conference for Social Work Research in Vilnius, Lithuania Photo © MCI/Thomas Dierker

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