Studying inequality, power and social justice in social work and child welfare research – Ph.D-course 22 – 24 April 2024

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Where and when?

22 – 24 April 2024, Tunga Campus, Dep of Social Work, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Room: will be announced.

Course content

Inequalities in the context of social work and child welfare policy and practice have attracted much attention in research over the last decade. Much of this research has drawn on the techniques used by health researchers to map the social determinants of life expectancy, illness, and other outcomes. However, the study of inequalities in social work and child welfare must take into account the normative and value-based nature of these fields. While evidence of inequalities in child welfare interventions is steadily accumulating, theoretical conceptualizations regarding the mechanisms that underlie it are still in the early stages of development. How then can we address normative, relational, systemic and scientific complexities in research activities? How is inequality, power and social justice understood and conceptualized? How do we incorporate an intersectional approach to our research and develop more nuanced understandings of the field?
This course will examine some of the theoretical and ethical challenges associated with researching inequality in the fields of social work and child welfare. The course will also introduce students to methodological approaches and empirical findings from international studies within the area of child welfare systems. 

Learning outcomes

Students will:
– gain knowledge about central theories in the field of social inequality, social work and child welfare
– think critically about researching, such as conceptualization and theorizing inequality and ethical dilemmas, in the context of social work and child welfare
– Gain knowledge on the empirical findings of the   international research projects and learn about –the methods used when researching child welfare inequalities
– Gain an in-depth understanding of the following key concepts: social justice, social power, stigma, intersectionality

Learning methods and activities

Lectures, seminars, formative presentations by the participants, and facilitated in-class discussions. The course is taught in English. 

Compulsory assignments

Written assignment (4500-5000 words) linked to one issue that deals with theoretical and/or ethical challenges in social work inequality research.

Required previous knowledge

Master’s degree or equivalent

Course materials

General and individually selected syllabus. The general syllabus is announced at the beginning of the course. Deadline for submission of individually selected syllabus is stated at the beginning of the course.

Program (preliminary)

NTNU, Campus Tunga, Trondheim
Course coordinator: Bente Heggem Kojan
Involved staff: Anna Gupta, Yuval Saar-Heiman, Rick Hood

22nd of April                                    
12.30 – 16.00Plenary sessions
23rd of April                                        
09.00 – 12.30Parallel workshops with students presenting and discussing abstracts/ideas for essays. Workshops to be led by involved staff
13.30-16.00 Plenary sessions
EveningJoint dinner for involved staff and PhD candidates.
24th of April                                                     
09.00 – 11.00   Plenary sessions
11.00-12.00Current and future challenges in studying inequality in social work – summarizing the course and a discussion with involved staff
12-13  Lunch