ACAP’s foundation Professor of Social Work, Carolyn Noble, was keynote speaker at the inaugural conference of the Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network (APUCEN), held in Nepal during April. Postponed for 10 months following the Nepal earthquakes, the event’s aim was to unite higher learning institutes of the Asia-Pacific region with their communities to enhance social and economic wellbeing by contributing academic involvement to nation-building.
Below is Carolyn’s report on the event, in Q&A style, about what it means for ACAP’s School of Social Work to play an active role in APUCEN.
What is ACAP’s connection with APUCEN?
I have been involved in the UCEC events over the years, particularly the ACAP co-sponsored UCEC 2015 Brisbane conference, the first to be held in Australia. The UCEC conference is biennial and is promoted by the Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network (APUCEN) and co-hosted by their members. The event in Nepal was the first international APUCEN.
How did your presentation meet the conference theme “Nurturing University Community Engagement: Integration, Innovation and Impact”?
My address was titled “Social work and community welfare: Taking community engagement agenda forward”. Part of it outlined an ‘in-principle’ engagement strategy for both the university sector and the community to reflect on as engagement partnership are sought and nurtured.
What were some personal highlights for you, at the conference?
I was struck by the ingenuity, tenacity and strength of the Nepalese participants, especially the staff and students from the Nepal School of Social Work and its sister institutions Kadambari Memorial College of Science and Management, and Nepal College of Development Studies, who worked tirelessly to convene and support the conference. Indeed, they managed it from beginning to end, showcasing both their academic strengths and the rich cultural traditions of the country as well, and how overcoming adversities such as major earthquake brings out people’s resilience and determination to overcome obstacles.
What was inspiring about the event’s activities?
Networking is always a good outcome for such conferences but I was impressed by the sheer glee and pride the social work staff and students exhibited in their studies and their country, and that a small and developing country with limited resources and infrastructure can host a first class international conference.
What were the benefits for ACAP and its Social Work programs?
ACAP’s School of Social Work and myself, as past Vice President of the Asia-Pacific School of Social Work Education (APASWE), already have a good relationship with our Nepalese colleagues, which was strengthened by attending this event. Our School of Social Work had a student on placement with the Nepal School of Social Work last year, who is planning to return for a full year as a volunteer in 2017.
ACAP’s social work program is getting some regional recognition from other activities we are engaged with, so this conference was another platform to promote our program and the success of our students, several of whom come from this region and plan to return to work there as social workers.
For further details about ACUPEN Nepal, visit the conference website.
About Professor Carolyn Noble:
Carolyn Noble, PhD is Inaugural Professor of Social Work at NPI/ACAP in Sydney, Australia and Emerita Professor of Social Work, School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. She has been involved with International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) and Asia Pacific Schools of Social Work (APASWE) from 1988 in various positions.
Carolyn is co-editor of two APASWE books on social work education and supervision across the Asia Pacific and more latterly co-edited a book for IASSW focusing on social work education across the globe. She is editor-in-chief of IASSW’s social dialogue magazine www.social-dialogue.com. Her research interests include social work ethics, work-based learning and community engagement and theory development in social work. Further areas of research include gender democracy and equal employment opportunity for women in higher education and human services.