Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Social Work Education

For a Special Issue on

Teaching Human Rights Social Work

Abstract deadline
10 September 2023

Manuscript deadline
31 January 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Caroline Bald, University of Essex, UK
[email protected]

María Inés Martínez Herrero, UNIR, Spain
[email protected]

Prof. dr. Egle Sumskiene, Vilnius University, Lithuania
[email protected]

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Teaching Human Rights Social Work

Human rights social work has a growing evidence base, but little is known about how social work educators engage with the subject at course level. To paraphrase bell hooks, the classroom remains social work’s most radical of spaces, be it who enters the classroom to become social workers to what is taught to what is put into practice during placement or dissertation activism.

Social work educators are globally aware of social work’s ethical mandate to engage with human rights in all aspects of the profession, including social work education and training. An emphasis on the human rights foundations and principles of social work has been, for decades, at the core of social work’s global definitions, ethical standards, policy documents, and theoretical pieces of work. A common theme across these relates to human rights’ potential for promoting shared understandings and international collaborations facing social injustice and global challenges to the profession, including the influence of oppressive ideologies such as uncontrolled neoliberalism or political and other extremisms (Ife, Soldatić and Briskman, 2022). In this vein, the global standards for social work education (IFSW and IASSW 2020) require schools of social work to prepare students to apply human rights frameworks to their understanding of social issues. However, when facing the commitment to teach about human rights to social work students, social work educators are often unaware of how the same task is being approached by other courses and educators throughout the world. Moreover, due to their complexity and large scope, human rights can be perceived as an overwhelming topic, difficult to translate into specific teaching activities meaningful for social work students (Martínez Herrero and Charnley, 2021).

Despite local differences and the importance of contextualisation, there is a wealth of good teaching experiences, such as including international teaching collaborations, on social work and human rights across Europe which social work educators teaching human rights could get inspired and benefit from. Whereas some recent has started to shed light on some of these initiatives (e.g., McPherson and Abell, 2020; Dijkstra et al., 2021), human rights teaching in social work education remains largely unexplored by social work research. Given all this, this special issue aims to contribute to the effort of gathering and disseminating research on human rights teaching in social work education, as a means for promoting human rights-based social work teaching and practice.

Contributions to this special issue may address, but are not limited to, the following themes, related to human rights teaching in social work education:

  • The national and international human rights discourse in social work.
  • Human rights, social work and the global agenda of Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Case analysis (example of human rights social work in action).
  • Co-production of knowledge with lay experts (service users and carers).
  • Professional resistance in social work.
  • Activism and human rights violations locally and globally
  • History of social work and human rights
  • Pedagogical examples of teaching such as interdisciplinary/school collaboration


  • Direct sharing of a particular approach or rationale: this may be exercises or underpinning ethos of delivering sessions or assessments that work well.
  • Examples of collaborative working or teaching contextualising human rights social work education.
  • Book reviews of significant textbooks that have been used are welcome
  • Full articles including primary and scoping research with focus on social work education (empirical, pedagogical or theoretical). We welcome critical analysis.

We anticipate three types of contribution: full articles of no more than 8,000 words; shorter practice articles by educators and practitioners of no more than 2,500 words; and book or resource reviews are welcome of up to 500-800 words. Our aim is to encourage all educators to share thinking and practice to a wider audience.

Submission Instructions


Abstracts submission deadline: 10th September 2023

Confirmation of acceptance decisions: 10th October 2023

Full submission deadline: 31st January 2024

Reviews and revised manuscripts submission: February- June 2024

Expected publication: from July 2024

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words to the three guest editors.

Please send abstracts to the three guest editors at the following email addresses by 10th September, 2023:

Caroline Bald, University of Essex, UK: [email protected]

María Inés Martínez Herrero, UNIR, Spain: [email protected]

Prof. dr. Egle Sumskiene, Vilnius University, Lithuania: [email protected]

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