Welcome to the subject "Theories and Methods" of Social Education


The profession and discipline of social work, with roots in both social pedagogy as well as social work, has experienced enormous developments since its beginnings in the early 20th century. This is evidenced by the growing number of social work professionals and the range of training and study opportunities at schools of applied sciences as well as research universities. Social workers are employed in a multitude of fields and aim to find professional and institutionalized solutions for the complex psychosocial problems experienced by people across all life phases. These problems have to be viewed in the context of societal changes, globalization and transnationalism.

As a practice-based profession and an academic discipline social work aims to promote “social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.” This means that social work ‘happens’ at the intersection of person and environment. Steeped in “principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities,” it is the mission of social work to develop and implement methods for professional contexts that are informed by theory and research and contribute to the betterment and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities (see International Definition of Social Work as formulated at the IFSW General Meeting and the IASSW General Assembly  in July 2014, Melbourne, Australia).  

Our Section

The section Theory and Methods of Social Pedagogy is focused on theoretical and empirical questions that form the foundation for a professional and methodologically sound social work practice. Among the many possible areas of interest, our section aims to understand

  • the role and function of social work within societal structures and institutions
  • outcomes and processes related to social work’s legal, organizational and professional settings and interventions
  • the ethical principles and norms guiding social work concepts and methods
  • the development and role of theoretical paradigms in the science of social work

Central to these efforts is the translation of theoretical and empirical knowledge for use in practice, which is viewed as necessary to provide a sound foundation for professional social work practice and train social work professionals that understand science and have a critical and reflexive attitude. Toward this end, social work draws on social work concepts and frameworks as well as theories from multiple disciplines (sociology, political science, psychology, educational sciences, public health, humanities) that are integrated to achieve its goals and function at the intersect of person and environment.

Content Areas

Beyond the broad aims of the section on Theory and Methods of Social Pedagogy, specific areas are emphasized depending on the research interests of individual faculty and doctoral students. Currently these include: international developments in residential and foster care, evidence-based social work, implementation science, the intersection of child welfare and mental health, migration and refugees, international social work and transnationalism.