University and local authorities work together to improve social work

The University of Helsinki is an international pioneer in social work practice research, the point where research and practical social work meet


- Practice research focuses on everyday welfare work, says Ilse Julkunen, Professor of Practice Research at the University of Helsinki.

It reveals the actual processes of the practical work and aims at renewing and improving the working methods.

Society is currently going through a transitional period, resulting in increasingly complex social issues.

- A need has arisen for research that observes the ongoing social changes from a practical point of view.

This model is also unique in its cross-boundary methods of producing information. The process involves researchers, service developers and producers, and users of the services. All parties are participating in the creation of knowledge.

Julkunen believes that the research and development work of local authorities should be more closely coordinated.

The first practice research chairs were established at the University of Helsinki in 2003. Julkunen has developed the practice research model together with her colleague Erja Saurama.

- Development work has been done in cooperation with social workers, researchers and teaching staff. The support from the Mathilda Wrede and Heikki Waris Institutes has been of great help in getting us this far. We have received support for the writing process, study group guidance and collegial support.

- I hope that practice research will achieve national acclaim and spread to other fields as well. There is also an international demand for it.

Text and photo: Jonna Söderqvist

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy

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