Center for Social Development (CSD) Director Michael Sherraden and International Director Li Zou represented Washington University in St. Louis during a conference on “The 30th Anniversary of the Re-establishment of Social Work in China.” The event was November 1-2 at Peking University (PKU) in Beijing.
Sherraden delivered the keynote address “The Future of Social Work and Social Policy: International Perspectives and Thoughts for China.” He used the example of the Grand Challenges for Social Work in the United States as a strategy for future development, generating considerable discussion as a potential strategy for adaptation in China. Another presentation by Sherraden on asset building as a policy strategy generated discussion about Chinese social workers’ role in policy innovation.
As a partner university of Washington University’s McDonnell International Scholars Academy, PKU values its relationship with Washington University, especially with its highly ranked school of social work. CSD has been collaborating closely with PKU for the past two decades, co-hosting several academic meetings resulting in special journal and book publications (in both Chinese and English) on productive aging, asset building, and other social policy topics. The Chinese publications have made Washington University more visible and more appreciated in China.
Sherraden emphasized the importance of longstanding partnerships in working in Asia. “The strong ties with PKU began under the [Brown School] deanship of Shanti Khinduka, who understood the importance of substantive, mutual and constructive international relationships. The PKU-Washington University relationship has lasted over time, and it will continue to grow,” Sherraden said. “We have addressed mutual interests, worked out challenges as they arise, and remained steadfast partners.”
PKU is the premier university in China and among the best in Asia. It has the No. 1 social work program in the country. In 1988, PKU was among the first three universities to re-establish social work programs, which closed after the fall of mainland China to communism in 1949.
The sponsors of the 30th anniversary conference were the Department of Sociology of Peking University, the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the China Social Work Research Center of Peking University-Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the PKU campus. Professor Deng Suo, who was a post-doctoral fellow at CSD, directs the research center. Training future scholars is another aspect of strong mutual ties.
Leaders from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the Chinese Social Work Professional Degree Education Steering Committee, and the Chinese Social Work Education Association were present at the milestone occasion.
Sherraden and Zou joined 600 Chinese social work colleagues and representatives from Kazakhstan, Italy, the Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, United Kingdom and Vietnam at the event.