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Implementing a Global Code of Ethics to Ensure Professional Standards

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
09:00 EDT Washington DC / 15:00 South Africa

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A Global Statement of Ethical Principles has recently been developed to facilitate social workers' aspirations towards the highest possible standards of ethical practice, through processes of constant debate, self-reflection, willingness to deal with ambiguities, and to engage in ethically acceptable processes of decision-making to achieve ethical outcomes. The Statement makes an explicit commitment to value the people with whom social workers engage and a shift toward recognizing and connecting work toward advancing human dignity and human rights.

Finalized in 2018 through the inputs by many individuals, organizations and social work associations, and led by the International Association of Schools of Social Workers and International Federation of Social Workers, this Statement builds upon the global definition of social work, defined in 2014.

Speakers will share details about the Statement and the nine guiding principles included within it and share some examples of how a code of ethics is being implemented in different county settings. They will also share the process for drafting the document, including some of the challenges the group overcame to ensure cultural contextualization, global inclusion and harmonization from diverse stakeholders toward reaching global agreement on the Statement. They will also will focus on the use of the Ethics Statement in preparing students for international field placements and research in this area.

Following the presentations, there will be time for participants to pose questions to the presenters.


Dr. Vishanthie Sewpaul, PhD, Emeritus Professor, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and Professor II, University of Stavanger, Norway

Dr. Sewpaul joined the Board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work in 2000 where she chaired several committees, and she currently chairs the Global Social Work Ethics Taskforce. She currently holds teaching roles with the University of KwaZulu Natal and University of Stavanger and previously taught social work at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. She has published widely, serves as either reviewer or advisory board member of several journals, as external examiner at several international institutions, and has delivered numerous keynote and plenary addresses in many countries. She has worked extensively in the fields of mental health, HIV/AIDS, and children in difficult circumstances, particularly children and youth living on the streets. Social work practice and teaching with a focus on social justice, human rights and emancipatory education remain her passion. She is currently a Steering Committee member of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.

Ms. Dawn Hobdy, LICSW, Director of the Office of Ethics and Professional Review at the National Association of Social Workers, United States (NASW)

Ms. Hobdy provides leadership and oversight for the overall vision and structure of the nationwide ethics and professional review program. She has 21 years of experience developing ethics courses and conducting trainings. She presents at numerous conferences around the country and has served on various task forces including the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) International Technology Task Force, the NASW & ASWB Technology Standards Task Force, and the NASW Code of Ethics Revisions Task Force. She currently serves as the Ethics Commissioner for the International Federation of Social Workers. Ms. Hobdy is an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program of the Howard University School of Social Work. Her research and teaching interests include social gerontology and ethics. She began her career in gerontology, serving several years as Director of Social Services in a long-term care setting as well as providing case management for seniors of the DC Wavier program. Ms. Hobdy received her MSW degree from Howard University and her BS degree in Communications from Syracuse University.

Aina Lian Flem, Associate Professor of Social Work, affiliated to the Department of Social Work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway

Ms. Flem's research and teaching area concern theoretical, practical and pedagogical challenges for social work in a globalized world. She has worked extensively within the field of child and family welfare in Norway as well as within international child rights work globally. She has held leading positions in Save the Children and been a member of the board of NASSW (Nordic Association of Schools of Social Work). Anti-oppressive perspectives have been the basic building block in her teaching, research and practice in order to encourage students, teachers and practitioners to enter into processes of critical reflexivity. Together with colleagues at NTNU, she has been in charge of strengthening critical and global perspectives of the Bachelor Curriculum, a passion she shares with her Swedish colleague Jessica H. Jönsson.

Dr. Jessica H. Jönsson, Research Fellow, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden

Dr. Jönsson's research area concerns social work as a globalized and sociopolitical field facing increasing theoretical, practical and ethical challenges caused by socioeconomic, political and cultural transformations. She has studied global social problems, sustainable- and social development, poverty alleviation, migration and reception of asylum seekers and refugees, and national (dis)organization of social work, including its education and practices. She is teaching mainly in community work, social work and migration and global social problems.


Flem and Jönsson have together developed social work curriculum that encompasses critical, global and postcolonial perspectives in social work educational and field training. Students’ ethical and critical awareness, as well as, self-evaluation of international field training in realizing human rights and social justice in field practice settings, have been the focus of their research and publications.

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This is the 30th webinar hosted by the Global Social Service Workforce.
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