International social work education at the crossroads


  • Lena Dominelli


Social work has been a player in the international arena since 1928 when the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) was founded alongside its sister organisations, the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Council for Social Welfare (ICSW). These divided their remit into education, practice and policy respectively. Their development has been an interesting one, but the details of it need not detain us here. I only want to lay aside the argument that having an interest in the international domain is a new phenomenon in social work. At the same time, I want to emphasise how impressive it is that a profession that has been so tied into modernity, linked to the modern nation-state (Lorenz, 1994) and rooted in local legislation and traditions has such a long-standing history of involvements that have crossed borders to promote understanding and knowledge-building. In these encounters, social work educators and practitioners have engaged with others who were different from them while struggling to make their interactions egalitarian and respectful ones.