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Social Work celebrates centenary

The University’s centre for excellence in social work has launched a series of events to celebrate its 100th birthday. 

Since its establishment in January 1918 it has become one of the most respected centres for social work education in the UK.

It is among the highest ranked in the UK for the quality of its teaching and research.

Opening event

Centenary celebrations began with an event in the University’s Playfair Library where experts looked at Edinburgh’s role in changing the way the profession is taught and regarded today.

Chaired by the Senior Vice-Principal, Professor Charlie Jeffery, there were presentations by key figures in social work in Scotland.

Speakers included: Iona Colvin, The Scottish Governments Chief Social Work Advisor; Anna Fowlie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Social Services Council; Alistair Gaw, Executive Director of Communities and families at the City of Edinburgh Council and Tisha Hall, Scottish Association of Social Workers.

Also attending was Mark McDonald, Minister for Childcare and Early Years in the Scottish Parliament.

A programme of events throughout 2018 will reflect on Social Work’s achievements and consider what the future holds for the wider discipline.

Sharing experiences

Already more than 60 alumni have shared their stories via the centenary celebrations website. Other stories have been compiled from archival research.

Social Work graduates, staff and students will be sharing their stories at reunion events.

Attendees are invited to bring questions, observations and any artefacts they are willing to share.

Wide reach

As a sign of Edinburgh’s international reach, the European Social Work Research Conference, organised by the European Social Work Research Association, will be located at the University in 2018.

An interactive exhibition with photographs, posters and audio clips is taking place at Ocean Terminal on 11 November.

Head of Social Work, Professor Viviene Cree says the stories of the individuals who have been connected with Social Work at the University over the years shed light on wider social issues and developments such as the professionalisation of social work and the changing role of women.

People are at the heart of the Centenary project – without the students, staff and partners who’ve played a part in our activities over the years, we are nothing!

Professor Viviene CreeHead of Social Work

Legacy of social work study

The University started providing training for social workers with the setting up of the Edinburgh School of Social Study and Training.

Social Work has had an influential role in the creation of social welfare policy and practice and social work education in Scotland, the UK and around the world.

Edinburgh played a major role advising on the future shape of social work services in Scotland, it contributed to reports that led to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, which remains a core legislative basis for Scottish social work today.

It has a wide-ranging research profile and has pioneered studies in areas such as children and families hearings, drug and alcohol services and HIV services.

Tradition of excellence

The result is a continuing tradition of excellence. The Times University Guide has consistently ranked Edinburgh highly. In 2017 it was rated top for Social Work in the UK.  The 2014 Research Excellence Framework rated 81 per cent of Social Work and Social Policy research at the University as world leading or internationally excellent.

Image © Lesley Martin Photography

Celebrating 100 years of Social Work at Edinburgh University