Developing the Social Work Academic Workforce

Profiles from the United Kingdom and the United States of America

Authored by: Barbra Teater , Michelle Lefevre , Hugh McLaughlin

Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Education

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138890237
eBook ISBN: 9781315712536
Adobe ISBN: 9781317495239


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Social work is regarded within universities as an “applied discipline”, unlike “pure” disciplines such as sociology or social policy. A key difference implied by this “applied” nature is that the academic staff are required to conduct research and produce new knowledge for the discipline and profession alongside their role as educators, preparing the next generation of practitioners for the challenges of the workplace. Whereas academics in non-applied disciplines may require methodological competence, disciplinary knowledge, and pedagogical skills to undertake research and teaching adequately, social work academics will need additionally to be able to embody and demonstrate the values, personal qualities, and technical skills of professional social work. An appropriately qualified and skilled academic workforce would, then, ideally employ academics who bring experience or skill in social work practice, pedagogical experience or expertise, and a demonstrable potential for high-quality research (usually evidenced through a PhD or doctoral degree [referred to throughout this chapter as “doctorate”] and/or research experience and high-quality publications). However, there has been, and remains, a difficulty both within the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) in recruiting individuals with expertise in these three capabilities.

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