U of U to Partner with Japan Women’s University for Social Work Symposium

In October 2015 The University of Utah will partnering with Japan Women’s University to hold a symposium discussing the state of social work in Asia. The symposium will be taking place at the U Asia Campus in Songdo, South Korea.

The symposium will include attendees from Japan Women’s University, in addition to colleagues from surrounding countries in the region and from the University of Utah’s College of Social Work.

“We will be holding a small conference on the current status of social work in Asia,” said Caren Frost, Director of the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. “This is a culmination of all the work we’ve been doing with Japan Women’s University for the past eight years.”

The University of Utah has been working in partnership with Japan Women’s University since 2007. The partnership has included Faculty exchanges, exchange-based research into aging services in Japan, as well as an annual student exchange.

Talks to arrange the symposium came about out of a desire to continue collaborative work between the universities as well as the hope to look into the potential for future cross-border research opportunities.

 “We wanted to get together to talk about what each of us was doing, what connections we’ve made, and how social work is moving along in Asia and what that means for the future,” Frost said.

The symposium will host a panel of experts that will discuss topics including economic development, social and geographic issues, health and epidemiological change across Asia, and will take place from October 10-12, 2015.

In particular, the symposium will act as a springboard for conversations regarding some of the more culturally relevant issues facing the field of social work in Asia.

“We’ll be talking a lot about culturally sensitive issues across Asia and how to get social work more involved in tackling those sorts of issues,” Frost said. “We want to have a platform where we can collaborate and think about specific research opportunities and be able to get together and do some cross-cultural research on whatever topics are of interest to them.”

In addition to discussing the current climate of social work across Asia, they will be discussing the impact of having a U.S. based university campus [the U Asia Campus] in Korea, and what that means for the region. With the U Asia Campus rapidly moving onto its second year of enrollment, the potential impact for not only the college of social work, but the university in general is vast, and is only just beginning to be truly seen.

“I think part of the benefit of this symposium is that it will help to get the word out to different countries that this [the U Asia Campus] is a place where they can send their undergraduate students to get their general requirements and complete their social work degrees both there and here in the United States.”

While faculty from both Japan Women’s University and the University of Utah will be well represented at the symposium, students will also be in attendance from a number of countries across Asia including: Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Nepal, and India. The students will be making poster presentations on their own research within the field of social work.

The student presentations are of a particular interest to Frost who said she is excited to see the next generation of social work experts already learning how best to convey the information of their field in an international setting.

Ultimately, Frost has high hopes that the symposium can lead to an even greater collaboration between the University of Utah and Japan Women’s University. For her, the partnership has the potential to lead to more research and even the chance to teach internationally.

“I would like to see these faculty from different countries connect on research and teaching opportunities,” Frost said. “Not only do we have the campus there, but we have great technology to diversify teaching. We can do podcasts, Skyping into classrooms, and more. It would be amazing to get different faculty teaching across borders and broadening our global education for our students.”