Summer School - Social Justice: A Normative Foundation for Social Work?, 6-9 June 2017, Basel, Switzerland

Publish Date: Jan 01, 2017

Deadline: Jan 15, 2017

Call for the International Summer School 2017

Subject: Social Justice: A Normative Foundation for Social Work?

Social justice is often proposed as an important value of social work. For the International Federation of Social Work social justice is, alongside human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversity, a core ethical principle of social work. Therefore, social workers "have a responsibility to promote social justice, in relation to society generally, and in relation to the people with whom they work." However, although social justice is proclaimed as such a core value, social workers have found it a slippery concept to define. Contemporary efforts to trace the roots of social justice-oriented social work focus on the settlement house movement.Current social work literature on social justice often focuses on the concepts of oppression, fairness and justice, the capability approach, recognition, human rights and the like. More systematically, however, social justice can be described in libertarian, utilitarian, contractual, egali-tarian, and communitarian ways, being a fairly new paradigm of modern societies. Whereas the general idea of jus-tice has a long tradition in human history, the idea of social justice is developing in an era of modernity in which the notion of the universal equality of human beings is fundamental. With the French Revolution of 1789, which postulat-ed freedom, equality and fraternity as core principles of modern societies, the idea of social justice became a key normative concept. The French Revolution brought about a fundamental social and political change, as it transformed the idea of poverty as a social fact, as god-given fate, into a human-made phenomenon. This meant that such condi-tions can also be changed by human action. Since then, the social sphere has become a sphere of social and politi-cal action, and the notion of social justice a normative guide and measure of social relations. Yet, it is difficult to de-fine what social justice means for social work, and to decide how it should be promoted in its different fields, including of youth, family, employment, health, migration and diversity. Hence, in social work theory and professional practice it has been argued that a normative perspective is not needed for professional social work and that indeed, given its strongly normative character, such an orientation endangers professional social work action. This debate about so-cial justice is very heated, not only in national disciplinary theory and practices, but also in international discourse. The summer school aims to identify the social justice discourses that prevail in different national contexts, and the current political and social problems that fuel current debates on social justice in social work.

Key questions

  • What is social justice and how is it discussed in different national and international contexts?
  • What relevance has social justice for social work?
  • What challenges can be identified for social work in relation to social justice?

International participants of Summer School 2017 will debate different views about social justice, and develop a broad perspective on social justice and social work through focusing on its relevance in the different fields of social work, including generational justice, family justice, cultural justice, and distributive justice.

Aim and statement for cooperation

The general aim of the Summer School 2017 is to start a collaborative and joint process of exchange on discussion on international level. All participants are invited to work out a presentation related to the key issues of the summer school for presentation and discussion. Beside presentations, posters and discussion we would also invite and to stimulate you to work on innovative and creative ways for presentations which focus on the key questions, including film, art, literature, music etc. The proposal should focus on selected aspects of social justice and social work according to the key questions of the short description. International students (under-graduates, postgraduates, doctoral) and groups of students are invited to participate in the Summer School 2017 as well as established researcher. The number of participants in the summer school is limited to 80. Please qualify your proposal according to the following categories:

- workshop proposal
- paper presentation
- poster presentation
- others: _________________
The organizing committee will review the proposals and define key themes to work on during the summer school. For the participating students as early as possible we will open an online forum for those submitted

How to Apply

l If you are interested in contributing to the summer school please send a short description (500 words and 2 key questions) to both of the organizers. Please include the names of all contributors, the title and the subject/topic of your planned activity.

Please also email a CV which includes: Full name; Contact details (address and email); Qualifications; fields of work and interest.  

Deadline for proposals January 15th, 2017
Comments on the proposals February 15th, 2017

Distribution of the Call for Proposals

Please support us in distributing the CFP to colleagues and students.


Prof. Dr. Thomas Geisen

+41 62 957 20 57

Prof. Andreas Schauder
+41 61 337 27 59

For further official information please click below on "Link to original".

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