The China Project of the Faculty of Social Work aims at building a collaborative relationship that will empower our Chinese colleagues through expanding their capacity to develop their own programs and materials. We are acutely aware of our immense geographical distance, limited financial resources, cultural differences, and the limited opportunity for face-to-face contact. Our key focus in the first phase of the project (up to 2004) was to develop human resources in social work. One of the roles we believed we could play was to facilitate exposure to international perspectives and practices of social work, while allowing our Chinese colleagues to selectively assimilate what they found relevant to their situation.
With this in mind, we organized the first International Colloquium on Social Work Education in Beijing in 2000. To facilitate exchange and communication, all presented papers were translated to make them available both in English and Chinese. Over forty papers were presented by scholars from Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The colloquium provided an excellent opportunity for in-depth discussion and exchange among these experts. The interaction between Chinese and international colleagues was found to be extremely beneficial to the integration of Western social work knowledge and Chinese experience. The proceedings have been published in both Chinese and English. Click here to visit our books page.
- Tsang, A.K.T., Yan, M.C., and Shera, W. (Eds.). (2004). Social work in China: A snapshot of critical issues and emerging ideas – Proceedings of the international colloquium in Beijing 2000. Toronto: University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work.
- Tsang, A.K.T., Wang, S.B., Yan, M.C. (Eds.), (2001). Critical issues in the development of social work in China in the 21st century – Proceedings of the international colloquium in Beijing, June, 2000. Beijing: China Social Sciences Press. (published in Chinese)
Ongoing dialogue between Chinese and international colleagues after the colloquium led to a number of publication projects, mostly aimed at addressing current educational needs of social workers in China. These projects typically involved the active input of Chinese colleagues to make the content culturally relevant. We tried to stay away from simply translating our existing English texts into Chinese. To date, we have published books in Community Work, Family Mediation, and Women and Social Work. Two upcoming volumes are in the areas of Direct Clinical Practice and Field Education.
Recognizing the need to cultivate a critical mass of social work scholars and educators who are well-grounded in the Chinese reality, while having wide international exposure, we have launched a visiting scholarship program. The program allows Chinese colleagues to come to Canada to study for a period of time. We give them complete freedom in choosing their area of interest, and offer support to develop their individualized program of study. Recognizing that social work development in China involves not only academic scholarship, but also direct engagement in different levels of social work practice. We have deliberately expanded our program to include community level workers, social work academics, and policy makers. So far, seven scholars have completed their program with us, and many of them are in strategic positions of influence in the development of social work in China. Our current visiting scholar is Professor Gao Jian Guo from Shandong Univeristy.
Throughout this period, we have reflected a lot on our involvement in China, and worked towards engaging in an academic dialogue both with our Chinese and international colleagues. We have wrestled with issues related to the "Chinese Corpus", international collaboration and power, and the concept of indigenization. To view papers on these topics, click here.