Brief History of the Global Partnership

The GPTSW developed from the Study Group for Philosophical Issues in Social Work, formed in the early 1980s by a loosely organized collective of social work academics who saw their interests and work as outside the mainstream of social work thought. Usually, the group would meet once per year at the Council on Social Work Education Conference in the U.S. They would also try to present papers at this conference with mixed success. In 1999, Stanley Witkin and Dennis Saleebey proposed that the Study Group develop its own conference that would encourage exploration of postmodern thought and its potential applications to social work. Rather than begin with the template of a traditional academic conference (e.g., presenting formal papers), the Group attempted to fashion a meeting that would emphasize connection and dialogue. The first such meeting (or gathering) was held in 2000 in Burlington Vermont and has been held annually since (hence the unofficial name of the organization as the “Vermont Group”).

Current and Future Activities

The GPTSW supports activities that generate spaces of connection and enrichment for social workers and allied professionals At this time, our primary activities are small conferences (called “gatherings”) entitled, “Transforming Social Work Practice, Education & Inquiry.” These gatherings have been held annually in Burlington Vermont since 2000. In June 2007 a gathering was held in Järvenpää, Finland and we anticipate holding other gatherings outside of the U.S.

The aim of these gatherings is to provide a setting that encourages dialogue about possible expressions and applications of postmodern and social constructionist ideas to social work. By using various relational formats we hope to make these gatherings not only places to share these ideas but to experience them. Although the physical setting and the high level of interaction limits the number of participants, anyone who has the requisite background (i.e., experience/knowledge of the above topics, interest in social work) may request to be placed on our invite list. A publication of essays inspired by participation in these gatherings entitled, Social Work Dialogues: Re-shaping the Canon in Inquiry, Practice and Education (Council on Social Work Education), is available for those interested in learning more.

GPTSW Board Members occasionally organize meetings at major conferences. This year (2010) we will be holding such a meeting at the Council on Social Work Education Conference in Portland Oregon (USA) in October. If you plan to attend the conference and would like to participate in our meeting, let us know. Also, check the conference program for the time and place.

Another activity that we hope to develop in the near future is to offer small workshops or presentations on social construction and related topics in different locales. Please let us know if you or a group to which you belong would be interested in such a workshop and the topic areas you would like to cover.

Finally, we hope that this website will also be a useful resource for you.