Report on this Year’s Arlt Symposium at the St. Pölten UAS
Eventful times challenge us to think and act in new ways – different, lateral, out of the box. The Arlt Symposium 2019 tackled current topics of social development and social work and invited the participants to develop future perspectives for social work together.
Rethinking Social Work
The traditional symposium of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research on 18-19 September 2019 was committed to the question of how social work can undergo a rethink. “Our goal was to find new perspectives for social work in these challenging times”, says Michaela Moser, lecturer at the Department of Social Sciences at the St. Pölten UAS, who held the keynote speech together with Andrea Trenkwalder-Egger from the MCI Innsbruck.
The two new concepts of “Radical Help” by English social entrepreneur Hilary Cottam and “Empty Risk Spaces” by Andrea Trenkwalder-Egger were at the centre of the speech. “Both concepts are about designing spaces and opportunities for people to enter into contact and support each other”, explains Moser.
Creative Conference Format
The organisers of the symposium also tested new discussion models. The participants were encouraged to contribute their own ideas and questions to the discussion via smartphone, to subsequently process them using non-verbal theatre methods, and to ultimately come up with solution proposals together in an Open Space.
The debates addressed a wide range of questions from aspects of child and youth work through social pedagogy to work with people in prison and better participation opportunities for refugees.
“It has proved successful to try out new methods”, says Johannes Pflegerl, Head of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research at the St. Pölten UAS. “The discussions at the symposium were inspiring and have yielded and concretised a multitude of creative approaches.”
“Openly Discussing Burning Questions”
“The objective of the symposium was to face burning questions in an open and creative manner”, says Monika Vyslouzil, Chairperson of the St. Pölten UAS Board. “In this context, the focus was not on the fulfilment of criteria. The mandate of social work is to promote social change and social cohesion. It is also about empowering people to become active themselves.”
Many of the symposium’s topics will continue to be discussed. As soon as on 18 November, for example, the St. Pölten UAS will host a specialist conference on quality standards in child and youth welfare.
- Specialist conference on quality standards in child and youth welfare (in german), 18 November 2019, St. Pölten UAS
- Ilse Arlt Symposium (in german)