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Tue 10 Jan

FULLY BOOKED Contested and Contradictory: Learning From Our Histories

1.30 - 2.30pm


This event is open to IASW members only. A short presentation will be followed by discusssion and exploration co-facilitated by Caroline McGregor and Clíona Murphy. 

The idea for the seminar was triggered by a number of events in 2021. This included the responses to the Final Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation which triggered a range of responses for social workers, creating dissonance and prompting questions and reflection on the profession.  It also included the 50th anniversary of the IASW as well as the work of the IASW Anti-Racism Advisory Group which provided further opportunity for critical reflection on the successes, failures and challenges of social work at different moments in time. 

The webinar is an invitation to pause, talk about and reflect on our social work histories and to consider their influence on the present as well as our futures.

  • Why is history important? Which histories?
  • How do our personal/individual histories/ our individual, professional selves influence our construction of social work?
  • What questions are pertinent for the present based on the past?
  • What can we learn?
  • How can we act and speak in the present to shape the social work future we want?

The seminar will use a History of the Present Framework as a lens for considering the contested nature of social work. Participants will be provided with the opportunity to discuss and explore our social work histories together and to consider what we might learn from those histories to influence the present and our futures.


Caroline McGregor (formerly Caroline Skehill) is Professor of Social Work at the School of Political Science and Sociology and Senior Researcher at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. Her current teaching and research interests include: child protection and welfare history of the present, child protection and family support practice and policy, support and protection across the life-course, citizenship based social work and critical social work perspectives.  She has several social work related publications which can be viewed here: She is co-author of McGregor, Caroline and Dolan, Pat (2021) Support and Protection Across the Lifecourse: A Practical Approach for Social Work, Bristol, Policy Press

Clíona Murphy is Professional Development Co-ordinator with the IASW. Clíona sees the IASW as a space where professional development is facilitated, supported, and nurtured and where social work is strengthened and celebrated, showcasing the positive impact and contribution of the social work profession to social change at all levels of society. Prior to joining the IASW, Clíona worked in the public and NGO sector as a social worker, researcher, evaluator, management committee member and policy development officer.