University professor develops new teaching inspired by Ukrainian solidarity group

 1 January 2024 14 April 2023
14 April 2023

A leading academic from the University’s School of Health and Social Work has developed new teaching modules based around her experiences of a solidarity group set up to support Ukrainian lecturers through the ongoing Russian conflict.

In February 2022, Professor of Social Inclusion and Wellbeing, Professor Shula Ramon, joined together with other academics and students from eight European nations in an online group that provided colleagues at Ukrainian universities with anything they wanted specialist training on.

Over the past year, the group of around 40 people has met fortnightly, inviting guest speakers to cover other topics including social work activities in Ukraine; resilience in war situations; key mental health issues in war torn contexts; working with refugee families and unaccompanied children in the UK; and sexual harassment and abuse by soldiers.

“It's completely out of everyday reality,” says Professor Ramon. “Sometimes we feel helpless.”

Since co-founding the group, the professor has shared many of the insights gained in those sessions with her University of Hertfordshire students, running four sessions across the year on social work in war-torn contexts. “To the best of my knowledge, we are the only social work education team to offer such an input in England,” she says.

Now Professor Ramon has secured funding for a small scale IAASW (International Association of Schools of Social Work) funded project, based around reflections from members of the group, both in and outside Ukraine, which has developed two new teaching/learning modules on social work: one around war and disabled people; the other on older people in war-torn contexts.

When finalised, the modules will be presented at the Lviv Catholic University in Ukraine in around February 2024, and they will be available through the website of the IAASW. Professor Ramon hopes to run an online event with the Lviv University’s UN online network, so the modules can be launched to a wider audience.

“We want a lot of people to know what we are doing,” explains Professor Ramon. “Particularly in the world of social work, but it should also be of interest to historians as well ‒ any discipline that works with people.”

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