Ad hoc 3: Decolonizing social work

Ad hoc 3: Decolonizing social work


What is the relevance of decolonizing social work in the context of Nordic and Baltic countries?

Decolonizing Social Work, Nordic Summer University

Winter Symposium: 23-24 March 2023, University of Mälmö, Sweden 


We invite scholars, students, activists, and community members from all fields to take part in our Decolonizing social work study circle, a migratory non-hierarchical group of international researchers. Our circle is developed within the Nordic and Baltic framework of Nordic Summer University.  Since its inception, the primary aim has been to provide a forum for experimentation and cross-disciplinary collaboration welcoming members both from within and outside of universities and other institutions. 

Theme of the symposium:

This gathering focuses on the relevance of decolonizing social work in the context of Nordic and Baltic countries. We encourage interdisciplinary contributions that consider the complexity of regional histories, Indigenous practices, and transforming political realities in connection with decolonizing social work.

Decolonizing social work opens the door to a more holistic understanding of the role and purpose of social work by challenging colonial institutional structures and systems of oppression. Further, it recognizes underrepresented aspects of social work practices, such as diverse values of spirituality, alternative ways of healing, and the value of distinct community and family structures and practices. In recent decades, decolonizing social work education and research has emerged as an attempt to broaden and critique the agenda of universalizing Eurocentric social work epistemologies and practices (Razack, 2009). Important texts, such as Decolonizing Methodologies (Smith, 2012), Decolonizing Social Work (Gray, Coates, Yellow Bird & Hetherington, 2013) and Indigenous Social Work around the World (Gray, Coates and Yellow Bird, 2010), have developed new vocabularies, perspectives and approaches to addressing global trends in contemporary social work relating to coloniality, systems of oppression, climate change crisis, and Indigenous knowledges. 

Over the course of two days, we will hold a participatory discussion at the University of Mälmö in Mälmö, Sweden

The study circle provides a space for theoretical experimentation and the cross-fertilization of methodologies. It aims to develop insights that could be used in further research. We welcome proposals for presentations from various disciplines, experiences and formats that deal with the central topic of the circle. 

Format of the presentation

This is a participatory circle where we seek to decolonize the traditional format of conferences. We strongly encourage you to craft a format that suits your presentation. We strongly encourage interactive formats that involve inclusive discussion or activities. We estimate that participants will have approximately 15 minutes for their offering.

To submit a proposal please send via email to the coordinators:

Kris Clarke ( and/or Michael Wallengren Lynch (

  1. A written proposal (350 words) with a title and descriptive subtitle. This text should include your presentation proposal, its format its duration, facilities you need (I.e. technical equipment)  
  2. A short bio (200 words)

If you would like to attend the symposium without presenting, please email a short bio.

The deadline to submit proposals is December 15, 2022.  The preliminary program will be announced on January 15, 2023 on where you can also find more information about NSU and sign up for the newsletter.

Registration and fee

Students: NSU membership fee

Those associated with institutions:  NSU membership fee

*Baltic residents: NSU membership fee

Membership fee: 25 euro (10 euro reduced fee)

All participants are required to pay for their own meals. Some funding will be available to Baltic and Nordic participants for travel and accommodation. Please indicate on your application if you require funding. The Nordic membership fee must be paid via bank transfer in advance of the conference.

Participants should apply to their institutions, Art Councils, local foundations or sponsors to have their travel cost covered. For those not affiliated with an institution, it is possible after the symposium to apply to NSU for some travel funding.

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) annual membership fee facilitates the existence of NSU, which is a volunteer-based organisation. As a member you can sign up for all events organised by NSU, take part in the democratic decision-making process on which NSU is based, and become part of the extensive network of NSU. There are two rates: a standard fee of 25 euros and a discounted membership of 10 euros for self-financed/freelance/independent students, scholars and artists.

Arrival: 22 March 2023

Departure: 24 March 2022

The Nordic Summer University (NSU) is a Nordic network for research and interdisciplinary studies.

NSU is a nomadic, academic institution, which organises workshop-seminars across disciplinary and national borders. Since it was established in 1950, Nordic Summer University has organised forums for cultural and intellectual debate in the Nordic and Baltic region, involving students, academics, politicians, and intellectuals from this region and beyond.

Decisions about the content and the organisational form of the NSU lay with its participants. The backbone of the activities in the NSU consists of its thematic study circles. In the study circles researchers, students and professionals from different backgrounds collaborate in scholarly investigations distributed regularly in summer and winter symposia during a three-year period.

The Nordic Summer University is committed to the principle of sustainability. At our symposia we offer vegetarian/vegan food only and aim towards zero waste. We thus invite members to bring their own reusable coffee cup and water bottle to the symposia and to consider carefully the carbon footprint of their travel choices.

For more information

Kris Clarke

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