10: “If not now, when?”: Reclaiming activism into social work education – the case of an intercultural student-academic project with refugees in the UK and Greece

During the refugee crisis (2015–today), social workers have been in the frontline of a contradictory context of repressive migration policies and their value quest for anti-oppressive practice. This chapter will focus on social work education, discussing the need to undertake a more political and activist approach based on the critical and anti-oppressive values of the profession. The discussion is informed by a collaborative intercultural project between students and staff on migration, everyday bordering and (anti-)oppressive social work practices. The project involved MA social work students from a university in the North East of England, organising a series of events aimed at raising awareness and crowdfunding in relation to the refugee crisis. In addition to this a group of students and two lecturers went on a study trip to Athens, Greece, where they debated the concepts of human rights and social justice with frontline professionals, refugee activists and social work students to develop understandings of social work across international boundaries and contexts of practice. This experience was used as an opportunity for reflection, co-learning and anti-oppressive praxis by students and staff, revealing the thriving opportunity for social work education to be the space for activism and critical consciousness at local and (inter)national contexts.

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