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Home > Arhiva > 2011 > Numar: 4 > Key Theoretical Concepts for Teaching International Social Work

 Key Theoretical Concepts for Teaching International Social Work

  • Samantha Wehbi (School of Social Work, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto (ON), Canada, 416-979-5000 (ext. 6221), E-mail: )

This paper discusses the internationalization of social work education with a focus on theoretical concepts that could guide teaching practices. The paper begins from the premise that much discussions of the “internationalization” of the profession have focused on superficial understandings of culture devoid of an understanding of context, history and power relations. As a response, the paper argues that the concepts of contextuality, power and responsibility guided by an understanding of historical and contemporary colonial and neocolonial North-South relations are key in assisting students to better understand their role as future social work practitioners. Specifically, the paper notes the importance of understanding the local context and the role of the social work profession within it; the paper also notes the importance of examining power relations across national contexts and within communities to better understand not only the complexity of the construction of social issues, but also our own relationship as social workers to any proposed responses to these issues. The paper also argues for the development of a sense of responsibility as opposed to feelings of charity or conceptions of solidarity in response to social issues internationally. Through a discussion of several examples drawn from my teaching practice, I illustrate these theoretical ideas and how they can be brought to students’ attention.

Keywords: international, social work education, North-South power relations