The Social Work Science Day at the St. Pölten UAS addressed the question of what innovation in social work involves and whether all innovation has to be new. In the framework of workshops, 170 participants discussed teaching research projects of students and examined which innovative aspects and questions became visible in this project.
"Society needs social innovations"
The opening lecture on the subject of the conference was held by Nadja Madlener from the executive department of Innovation Management and Project Development of the welfare organisation One World (Diakonie Eine Welt). “In in-house idea and innovation processes, it is important to us to combine the experience of our staff members and create new interfaces across disciplinary borders in order to develop innovative approaches to solutions for new and existing target groups”, Madlener explains.
“When it comes to innovation, most people think of technology and economics. But our society needs social innovations as well”, says Johannes Pflegerl, Head of the Ilse Arlt Institute for Social Inclusion Research of the St. Pölten UAS. “Most people consider innovations to be new ideas or products which did not exist before. Especially technological innovations are considered to be the driving force for generating an economic dynamic and competitive advantages. However, the call for innovation is a trend which can be witnessed in the field of social work as well. In this context, innovation means looking at new issues, new strategies to solve problems, new methodological approaches, new offers and even new target groups, which are to be considered”, clarifies Pflegerl.
Develop New Content, Challenge Old Beliefs
In addition, innovations in the context of social work do not always need to be new. “Due to the quickly changing circumstances, what is in demand are often adaptations or modifications of things that already exist”, explains Christine Haselbacher, Head of the Department for Social Work at the St. Pölten UAS.
The Social Work Science Day also addressed the role that exnovation – the process of reviewing and possibly eliminating old concepts – can play in the field of social work and which effects that may have on individuals and groups.
Innovative Projects in Teaching and Research
Students of the master degree programme Social Work and the master further education programme Social Pedagogy presented their research projects in poster sessions. Afterwards they led a discussion on the innovative elements of their projects with experts which were present at the symposium. Those projects once more emphasised the broad spectrum of topics in social work. The topics of the projects included online counselling as an opportunity for social work, solidarity economy, the role of social work in counselling people with dementia, inclusion in the context of extremism, the participation of children and adolescents in child and youth welfare, and professionalisation through inclusion counselling.
“These projects are a key element of our education. They guarantee that our students research current and relevant topics of the subject, combine teaching and development and establish a close connection with the practical side of social work”, says Haselbacher.
A concluding fish-bowl discussion explored the role of social work and strategies in civic engagements.
InNovation in Social Work. Social Work Science Day 2019 at the St. Pölten UAS
09/05/2019, Information regarding the projects and workshops.
The Social Work Science Day is a project of the Ilse Arlt Institute of Social Inclusion Research of the Social Sciences Department at the St. Pölten UAS. The Arlt Institute deals with research and development in the field of social work with a focus on participation, diversity and democracy development, health and social care as well as development of methods and social diagnostics.