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image: Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent
IASSW chief editor

Carolyn Noble, PhD

Editorial: The Pandemic that Shook Social Work Education

Welcome to the last social dialogue for 2021. It is a collaborative effort from academics, students, practice teachers and service users from across the globe exploring social work’s educational response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, focusing specifically on how they have responded to the many issues and challenges that emerged.

The guest editors argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has made the profession review its educational approach, its response to the inequalities exposed among vulnerable populations, such as women and young girls, the aged, the low income and imprisoned, the homeless and indigenous communities as well as exploring how it can strengthen its progressive stance considering the social injustices exposed.

Over the last two years several articles and books have been published focusing on COVID-19 and social work identifying weaknesses in the welfare, health, and educational systems; places, and organisations where social workers are key players. It has forced social work to provide quick and innovative responses to protect people’s health and wellbeing -social, psychological, and educational. In many ways it has prompted new imaginings about how to organise societies and how to develop new approaches to social work practice and education. However very few have focused exclusively on social work’s educational response - hence this special edited edition on “the pandemic that shook social work education”.

As we all take a break from the academic year it is timely to explore and reflect on the many innovative educational initiatives from across the globe as to what academics, practice educators, students and service users involved in higher education have to say about responding to COVID-19’s impact on their work and lives. We have contributions from colleagues in Portugal, Japan, China, Italy as well as UK, Australia, and Ireland. A special feature of this edition is having articles in Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese. It makes for interesting reading and provides some excellent examples of creative responses to the demands of teaching and learning remotely that many programs were forced to adopt, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The new social dialogue format enables the reader to view each item from the contents page rather than having to flip through the whole document to find a particular article of interest. This format also allows for some moving images to visually enhance the authors work. We have our designer Graeme Bland to thank for this and for making this edition (and others) look stunning. Thanks also to IASSW President Annamaria Campanini for updates on IASSWs work.

Finally, thank you to the guest editors and contributors to this edition which we hope will provide a valuable resource for teaching and reflecting on how issues and challenges that emerged from this pandemic can be addressed and overcome.