Campus Helsingborg

Lund University

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Social work is a controversial subject

One programme at Campus Helsingborg is distinguished by sky-high application rates every semester: the BSc programme in Social Work, offered by the School of Social Work. Social work is a relatively young research field in its own right and has been inspired by adjacent subjects such as sociology and political science.

The research is broad. It deals with social work in the broad sense: from the study of social problems, social policy and development of welfare, to social work as a practice.

– Social work is a controversial subject. The moral expectations placed on social workers are high. When something goes wrong, incredibly strong views are expressed. That social work is often funded with taxpayers’ money only makes the issues even more loaded, says Shari Granlöf, lecturer and research student at the School of Social Work in Helsingborg.

– As a social worker, living up to society’s expectations is not easy, continues Shari Granlöf, adding that this is precisely what launched her thesis work.

– I am interested in how students shape their professional identity during their studies. How do they view the process of going from student to professional social worker?

Research projects all over the world

Shari Granlöf explains that within the world of education, there is a lot of talk of lifelong learning for social workers. At the same time, there is criticism within society of social workers, precisely concerning their perceived lack of professionalism.

– So the question is: how does the transition from student to social worker function in practice? What happens to students when they encounter the organisations where they are to work? Social work is a long journey. The question is whether one ever arrives, says Shari Granlöf, who was an active social worker herself before she started at the School of Social Work.

A current development within research is increased internationalisation. The School of Social Work takes part in projects all over the world. For Shari Granlöf, this has meant travelling to Azerbaijan, for a somewhat unusual project: helping one of the country’s universities to start a study programme in social work.

– As nations we have different conditions. But poverty is poverty, anywhere in the world. We have learnt a lot from them, while having the opportunity to share our long experience of training social workers here at the School of Social Work.