Department of Sociology and Social Work

Keynote speakers at the 6th International Conference on Practice Research in Social Work 2023

Keynote speakers at the 6th International Conference on Practice Research in Social Work 2023

Presentation of speakers and their key-notes

Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul (PhD), an awardee of three honorary doctoral degrees from Chile, Norway and Sweden, is a globally recognized social work and human rights scholar, international speaker and activist 

She held leadership positions at institutional, national, regional and global levels, and visiting professorship positions at numerous international universities. Professor Sewpaul was previously President of the Association of Schools of Social Work in Africa (ASSWA); the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI); and the National Association of Social Workers, South Africa;  and she was Vice-President on the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW).  She chaired the following committees on behalf of the IASSW: Global Standards for SW Education and Training (2004); Global SW Definition (2014) and the Global SW Statement of Ethical Principles (2018). 

She is currently the World Coordinator for the joint IASSW/ICSW/IFSW conference to be hosted in Panama in  2024.  She was Senior Professor at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa where she remains Emeritus Professor, and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway. 

She has over 100 academic publications and has recently completed her memoir titled, The Arc of Our Paths: Growing into Wholeness.

Keynote: Emancipatory, Ubuntu based research and ethics in action: From pain, marginalization and vulnerability to empowerment, change and advocacy

The 2020-2030 Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development framework is: Co-building inclusive social transformation, with the first 2020-2022 theme being: Ubuntu: Strengthening Social Solidarity and Global Connectedness. Aligned with the framework is the 2022-2024 theme: Co-building an eco-social world: Leaving no one behind. 

The People’s Charter for an Eco-social World, an outcome of the Global People’s Summit held between 29 June and 2 July 2022, details a utopian world that we envision and bringing all people on board to co-create that world based on Ubuntu value premises. 

In this presentation, I elucidate what these values constitute, and reduce rarefied abstraction to application by demonstrating how they have influenced praxis-oriented research at the local level in the South African context. I present examples of community based projects describing participatory research and practice with people living in marginalised and vulnerable positions, and the power of emancipatory, Ubuntu based relationships - and mindfulness in ensuring that our identities as experts do not betray us - in them shifting from the margins to the centre in dealing with complex life challenges such as HIV/AIDS, homelessness and suicide. 


Merete Monrad holds a PhD from Aalborg University and a MSc in sociology from the University of Copenhagen

She is an associate professor at Aalborg University and part of the research group WISER. Her research is focused on emotions, temporality and user participation in social work. She has conducted several studies on social work in different fields of practice (child care, eldercare and employment services), focusing in particular on service-user participation, emotional labour and feeling rules, and development of practice through disagreement.

She is currently studying user experiences of employment services with a focus on emotions and temporality.

Key-note: Affective conditions for service-user participation

The presentation focuses on an understudied dimension of service-user participation: the role of affect and emotions. Building on the sociology of emotions, the presentation analyzes the role of emotions and affect in both furthering and hindering service-user participation. Vulnerable service-users may experience a loss of voice, not only because they are not included and heard, but because of affective conditions hampering voice.

In the presentation, such affective conditions are unpacked, including the loss of a connecting to a desirable future, the shame and uncertainty of dependency on others, and the affective subjectification at the micro-level.


Peter Beresford OBE is Visiting Professor at the University of East Anglia, England, Co-Chair of Shaping Our Lives, the UK disabled people’s and service users’ organization and network and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University London and of Citizen Participation at the University of Essex

He is a long term user of mental health services and has a longstanding background of involvement in issues of participation as writer, researcher, activist and teacher. His most recent books include Participatory Ideology (2021 Policy Press) and the Routledge International Handbook of Mad Studies (jointly edited with Jasna Russo, 2022).

Key-note: Challenging The Divisions

In his presentation Peter Beresford will bring an intersectional lense to bear in exploring how we can work for our common rights and different interests as service users, practitioners and researchers in the context of social work.

He will foreground issues of diversity and inequalities of power to consider how we can find ways to work together in participatory and co-producing ways which respect our difference and do not deny it, but at the same time acknowledge the divisive history of our different roles and the inequalities of power, status and class that have gone with them.

Recognising, with the advent of participatory approaches to practice and research, new overlaps between us, how can we find ways of working more equally together and respecting the complexities of our different identities?




Information for presenters
Proposals, abstracts and themes
Conference committees

The conference is supported by


If you have questions regarding the conference please use this email address:

Vat no.: 5798000420649 • P numbers; Aalborg: 1012066143, Copenhagen: 1018019139