Social work education and political conflict: preparing students to address the needs of victims and survivors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland

Jim Campbell, Joe Duffy, Ciaran Traynor, Stephen Coulter, Isobel Reilly, John Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper reports on the evaluation of a European PEACE III sponsored teaching and learning project that was designed to enable social work students to better understand the needs of victims and survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The paper begins with an introduction to policy, practice and educational contexts before reviewing the literature on social work, conflict and trauma. It also summarises key, innovative pedagogical approaches used in the teaching, including the use of ground rules, teaching teams consisting of lecturer and service user dyads, learning exercises and case studies. The paper then explains the evaluation methodology. This involved two surveys which returned 144 student and 34 practice teacher questionnaires. The findings revealed that
students were generally committed to this form of teaching and engagement with victims and survivors of the conflict, although some students reported that their attitudes towards this subject had were not changed. Some students also discussed how the conflict had affected their lives and the lives of families and friends; it is argued that such biographical details are crucial in developing new pedagogical approaches in this area.
Practice teachers who supervised some of these students on placement reported general levels of satisfaction with preparedness to work with conflict related situations but were less convinced that organisations were so committed. The paper concludes with a discussion of the study limitations and a recommendation for more robust methods of teaching and evaluation in this area of social work education and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Early online date15 Nov 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2012

Keywords

  • Social Work Education; Political Conflict; Northern Ireland

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