China Social Work Research Centre

Peking University and Polytechnic University

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Since 2007, Peking University has been rolling out its social work program under its Department of Sociology, in a joint effort and strategic partnership with the Department of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The primary purposes of the joint program are to foster the integration of social work theory and practice as a way to indigenize and professionalize social work in China, as well as provide training to enhance the problem-solving capacity of social workers towards achieving social development.

The two institutes co-founded the PekingU-Hong Kong PolyU China Social Work Research Centre. The Centre is devoted to the development and indigenization of social work theory and practice in China, aiming to develop a pipeline for leading scholars who are committed to the social change of China in the long term. To that end, strengthening the teaching capacity both undergraduate and graduate programs in social work is an integral part of the Center’s mission.

In 2012, ZeShan Foundation and Si Yuan Foundation jointly committed RMB20 million to establish a dedicated development fund. The fund will be critical to supporting the sustained growth of the Centre, so that it may develop into a leading institution for teaching and research in social work development, a think tank for social policy, and an international hub linking with social workers and social policy makers from mainland China, Hong Kong and the international community. The fund provides seed funding for research and program capacity building and enable PKU and the Center to leverage for external funding from the government and private sector.

In 2013, to commemorate the partnership, the compound of the Centre was renamed Si Shan Yuan (思善苑), taken from the names of the two sister foundations. During the unveiling ceremony on July 20, Prof. Zhou Qifeng, President of Peking University, presented Dr. Thomas Chen with the Outstanding Educational Contribution Award in recognition of his unwavering support for education in China.

In January 2014, a 4-day intensive training on social work curriculum development and capacity building was organized for about 100 Master of Social Work (MSW) instructors from various universities across China. Co-organized by Centre, the Social Work Teaching Guidance Committee under the Ministry of Education, and the China Association for Social Work Education, the training program attracted both local and international scholars and senior social work practitioners. Leading pracademics from the University of Chicago and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University participated as trainers in the workshop.

Peking University (PKU) is considered a cradle for higher education in modern China. It has been at the forefront in the teaching and research of humanities, social sciences and liberal arts education. Throughout its history, the university has distinguished itself in terms of intellectual freedom and leadership in social sciences and has produced and hosted man prominent Chinese thought leaders.

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Let Them Fly

Illuminant, Hong Kong

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Established in 2018, Illuminant (registered as The Illuminant Company Limited) is a social enterprise dedicated to introducing the Japanese model of elderly care into Hong Kong.  The concept behind this model is to create an environment and care culture in which older adults can give full play to their own potentials and capacity, enabling the ageing community to look after themselves and enjoy their late years.  Its Chinese name “鐵樹銀花” literally translates to “silver flowers blossoming on iron trees”, an analogy that comes to mean “older people enjoying their life despite being frail”.  

Illuminant derives its stream of income from movie screenings, experiential learning courses, training workshops, and talks, all of which are driven by the aim to enhance and improve the quality of care in elderly homes and family homes across Hong Kong. J-Care, their flagship virtual reality training program, is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, through which people can immerse themselves in a world afflicted by dementia. Through the simulated first-person experience of dementia, participants are able to personally experience the difficulties faced by dementia patients in different scenarios that arise due to different symptoms of the condition. Accompanied by a trainer’s guidance and explanation throughout the simulation, participants emerge from the experience equipped with a better understanding of dementia patients’ needs and feelings. Illuminant’s programs have the potential to reduce the stigma and fear toward different ageing-related conditions in our society, with greater hopes of eliminating the social exclusion experienced by these vulnerable communities.

In 2018, ZeShan Foundation supported the first screening of the Japanese Kaigo movie “Care-Nin” (“照護人 1”) and an accompanying training session, which was well received by practitioners and policy makers in elder care.  In 2021, ZeShan also supplemented Illuminant’s material and staff costs to upgrade both the hardware and software behind their virtual reality program, which also indirectly helped to subsidize the organization’s financial shortage during a period of business re-strategizing. With the goal to broaden the reach of the J-Care concept to a wider professional and public audience, this more advanced VR program will enable the organization to more effectively deliver content remotely in online and mobile learning modes.

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The Japanese Kaigo Movie “Care-Nin” promotes the profession and the value of frontline carers, and brings out an important message that “having dementia does not mean your life is coming to an end.”

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Carers experiencing dementia perspectives through VR devices

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Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

When an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

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It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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Beijing Normal University: China Social Work Education Demonstration Program

China

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To support the fledging development of China’s social work profession, ZeShan Foundation has since 2012 supported the School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University (BNU) to establish a national demonstration program for social work education.

The pioneering four-year program aims to build up the school’s social work teaching, research and advocacy capacity, with the ultimate goal of creating a sustained pipeline of local social work educators in China. Key features include setting up a Master of Social Work program, establishing practicum and distance learning sites across the country, training master trainers in Central and Western China, and publishing case books and textbooks. Read more below:

China’s Long Hiatus in Social Work
Although China can trace its social work profession back to the 1920s, the field suffered a hiatus lasting over half a century. It was only in the mid-1980s that social work was resurrected, to a large extent thanks to concerted efforts by Hong Kong social work professionals and mainland academics. But the development of national social work education infrastructure is still in its nascent stages, and the field faces issues such as a lack of high-calibre research centers with the capacity to influence policy; a severe lack of qualified social work instructors; inadequate research capacity; a lack of a practicum site network; and low recognition of social work as a profession. During China’s recent push to rapidly develop the field, the enormous gap in academic and intellectual leadership has made itself especially apparent.

Beijing Normal University: A National Leader in Education Reform
BNU is China’s top university for teacher training and an innovative trailblazer in higher education reform. As such, BNU has the capacity to play a pivotal role in spearheading the country’s social work education development. The demonstration program is sanctioned by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and authorized by the Ministry of Education, and is part of the national strategy to jumpstart China’s social work education development.

Demonstration Program
A core part of the demonstration program is setting up a Master of Social Work (MSW) prorgram which integrates social work, social development, NGO development, and policy advocacy – a first in mainland China.

To facilitate knowledge transfer, BNU has assembled an international team of academics – including many from Hong Kong – to teach alongside their Chinese counterparts, partnering on a one-to-one basis.

Emphasis is also placed on evidence-based teaching and research, so as to ensure the indigenization of knowledge and integration of theroy and practice. To this end, BNU will set up an extensive network of 100 practicum sites across the country, publish textbooks on a range of social work topics and an annual case book, and set up a national recognition program for best practices. The ZeShan Case Centre for Social Development was unveiled in 2013, alongside the launch of a ZeShan Scholarship for MSW students.

To leverage more resources, ZeShan encouraged an agreement between BNU and Capacity Building and Assessment Center (CBAC), China’s leading training and assessment organization, whereby CBAC will provide capacity development training and technical assistance to BNU’s establishment of practicum sites.

Beyond Beijing
The demonstration program is not confined to BNU. It also includes setting up regional distance learning sites in partnership with major regional universities, providing intensive training for 700 master trainers to meet the acute needs in Central and Western China, and setting up a fellowship program that will offer up-and-coming social work educators from regional universities to take up teaching or research residency at BNU.

Another unique feature of the demonstration program is its commitment to policy advocacy, so as to provide evidence-based recommendations to the government on such polices as improving the career development of social workers.

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