ESWRA Board Membership


Elaine Sharland, Chair,

Professor of Social Work Research and Director of Education and Social Work Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Sussex, UK.  

My primary research interests are in the development of methodologies and capacity for inter- and intra-disciplinary research, the relationship between theory, evidence and research, research utilisation and knowledge exchange, and constructions of risk in professional discourses and practices. My current work builds on these interests in two areas. With colleagues in the UK, Australia and the USA, I am co-editing a book to be published by Palgrave in 2016, on ‘Beyond the Risk Paradigm in Mental Health Policy and Practice’: this explores how we may find ways of recognising and responding to the lived experience and social dimensions of mental health problems that are obscured by neo-liberal approaches to risk management. Secondly, with colleagues at the Universities of Cardiff and Lancaster in the UK, I am exploring what secondary analysis of large scale population cohort and panel datasets can tell us about the predictors and outcomes of social work interventions with children and their parents. I am Conjoint Fellow of the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, New South WalesFrom 2012-2015 I was Co-Chair of the UK Joint Universities Council for Social Work Education Research Committee, and from 2008-10 I was Strategic Adviser for Social Work and Social Care Research  to the UK Economic and Social Research Council. 

Further information:


Judith Metz, Ph.D., Chair elect

Professor Urban Youth Work, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

For almost twenty years, I work as an academic researcher in practices. Characteristic for my research is that it occurs in the intersection between social sciences and social practices on the issues of social work, participation, professionalization and volunteering. My ambition is that my research makes a difference to society. At this moment, I am professor Urban Youth Work within the School of Social Work and Law at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. In collaboration with youth workers, lecturers, students and researchers I work on the professionalization ofDutch youth work practice by the development of a body of knowledge with attention to youth work methods. I started my academic life with women studies social sciences at Radboud University Nijmegen. My master thesis on sexism and social culture in the autonomous movement in the Netherlands was published in 1998 as: Het gekraakteideaal [the broken ideal]. I did my PhD in Humanistics on the relevance of volunteer support for citizen participation (2006). Afterwards, I published various books, articles and reports on professionalization issues within the field of social work, social policy, practice research and youth work methods like open youth work, detached youth work, individual support and social group work. Just published is: Volunteering and youth services; Essential readings on volunteering and volunteer management for social work, social policy and urban management (2014).

Further information:


Alessandro Sicora PhD, Secretary

University of Calabria, Italy

Alessandro is a lecturer at the University of Calabria where he teaches Methods and Techniques of Social Work. He also teaches Theories of Social Work at the Ca'Foscari University in Venice, Italy. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW) from 2011 to 2015. Currently he is president of the Italian Society of Social Work. He is a Marie Curie Fellow and his main research board interests include: methods of social work, reflexive practice, professional mistakes and comparative social policy. His publications have concentrated on reflective practice and social work. 

Web profile:


Jean Pierre Wilken PhD, Treasurer

Professor of Social Work, Faculty of Society and Law, University of Applied Sciences
, Utrecht, Netherlands and Visiting Professor, Tallinn University, Estonia.

I am educated as a social scientist and psychologist. My research interests include the areas of social work, mental health care, disability studies , ethics, and methods of practice-based research. In the past I worked as a practitioner in mental health care. In 1992 I co-founded Storm Rehabilitation, a European research and education centre for psycho-social rehabilitation. From 1996 - 2007, I served as the director of Research and Development. Since 2002 I am working as a professor in the Research Centre for Social Innovation at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. My chair is Participation, Care and Support for persons in vulnerable positions. I do a lot of research around the changes in the welfare state, and how it affects citizens in vulnerable positions as well as the work of social professionals. Since 2013, I am also connected to Tallinn University, as a visiting professor of Social Work. Since 2011, I am involved in CARe Europe, an international network promoting social inclusion, recovery and community care. Among my international publications are: Wilken J.P. (2005). Working on Social Inclusion: the development of a Support Model. In: Van Eijken J. & H. van Ewijk (eds), Reinventing Social Work. Utrecht: HU University for Applied Sciences, Wilken J.P. & D. den Hollander (2005). Recovery and Rehabilitation. Amsterdam: SWP Publishers, Wilken J.P. (2007). Understanding Recovery from Psychosis: A Growing Body of Knowledge. Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, May 2007, Vol. 44, p. 658-666., Wilken J.P. (2007). Enterprises go social. Job opportunities for the physically challenged, good opportunities for business! Tokyo: H.C.R. Journal, November 2007, Wilken, J.P. (2010). Recovering Care. A contribution to a theory and practice of good care. Amsterdam: SWP Publishers, Wilken J.P. (2012). The new social professional. In: Ewijk H. van, Eijken J. van & H. Staatsen (Eds.) (2013). A good society is more than just a private affair. Citizenship based social work in practice. Studies in Comparative Social Pedagogies and International Social Work and Social Policy, Vol. XXI. Bremen: Europäischer Hochschulverlag, p. 168-192, Wilken J.P., Slagmaat C. van, and Gijzel, S. van (2013). The Best Practice Unit: a model for learning, research and development. Journal of Social Intervention: Theory and Practice – 2013 – Volume 22, Issue 2, pp. 131–148, Den Hollander, D. and J.P. Wilken (2015). Supporting recovery and Inclusion. Working with the CARe Model. Amsterdam: SWP. By my board membership, I would like to support the international exchange of research in social work. As a community of researchers we can develop the body of knowledge, which is needed to understand complex social phenomena and the dynamics of the social work profession, and to feed the practitioners in the field. I strongly believe there should be a strong relationship between research, practice and education. All three domains together form the foundation of social work, as a professional and an academic discipline.

Further information:


Jose Gomez Ciriano, Communications officer

PhD, BL, BSW. Faculty of Labour Law and Social Work, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

I am Associate Professor accredited by the Spanish National Accreditation Agency. My academic background is bachelor in laws, bachelor in social work and have a PhD. In Cultural and Social Anthropology. I specialized in European Studies at the College of Europe where I also did some of my research. Prior to my teaching I worked in several NGO´s related to migration and Human Rights. Since 2005 I work at Universidad de Castilla-la Mancha.

My main research interests have to do with anti-oppressive social work, social services, economic, social and cultural rights, citizenship, identity, and intercultural competence. I have authored or co-authored more than 70 publications. I also have coordinated research projects funded by the EU and the Spanish Government. I am a member of some editorial boards of journals related to social work. My knowledge of the EU institutions at Brussels level provided me with good abilities in lobbying. I am fluent in Spanish and English and a have a reasonably good command of French and a good understanding of Portuguese and Italian language. I am very intuitive and also I am accustomed to team working

Further information: HERE

Sofia Dedotsi, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Vice Chair

Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, Northumbria University, UK.

My research interests are on anti-oppressive practice, social work education, critical social work, international social work, social policy and human rights. I hold a PhD in Social Work from the University of Manchester (2016) and an MSc in Advanced Social Work from Cardiff University (2009). I have worked as a practicing social worker both in UK and Greece, carrying out statutory and non-statutory work and I have been lecturing in higher education on social work qualifying programmes since 2010. I have been on the development group of ESWRA since autumn 2014 and I am willing to contribute on issues that involve the promotion of social work research and develop further networks among early career researchers and doctoral students.


Further information: HERE

Håvard Aaslund, Doctoral Student

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

I hold an MA in social work from Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, and am currently taking a PhD in social work and social policy at the same instutution. My research interests are marginalization, poverty, homelessness, child welfare and social policy and I am interested in action research and ethnographic methods as well as quantitative methods. I have taught social work at VID Specialized University since 2013. Before that, I worked mostly in the field of child welfare and child protection, as social worker, counselor and manager. I am interested in developing international networks for both teaching and research, and in contributing to research methods in collaboration with service users and practioneers.


Francisco Branco

Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Catholic University of Portugal

I have held a full-time position at the Catholic University of Portugal for the last ten years. I worked for many years at the first school of social work of Portugal at Lisbon. My actual research interests are grouped around the development of social work as a profession, social work history, policy practice in social work, public policies especially social assistance and social minimum policies. My recent research has been completed in the fields of social work history in Portugal and relationship of social work and social policy, mainly in the USA, the involvement of social work academics in social policy, and the minimum income standard in Portugal based on the qualitative consensual approach. I have mostly published in Portuguese on a broad variety of themes such as social work research, social work history, social work profession, poverty and social assistance. In English I just published an article ‘The circle of social reform: the relationship social work—social policy’ in Addams and Richmond (European Journal of Social Work, 2015) and others works forthcoming. I have a Masters and PhD in social work with speciality in social policy and social movements. I teach social work history, social research and social policy, and for many years I have been the coordinator of the PhD in Social Work. I was head of the research unit in Social Work and Sociology of the School of Human Sciences of Catholic University of Portugal and actually coordinator Public Interest Policies and Human Development of the Centre for Studies in Human Development of the same university as well as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Critical and Radical Social Work Journal.

Inge Bryderup

Professor in Social Work, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University.

I am head of a Social Work Research Program that includes more than researchers. I have a long research record in the field of social work and social policy and especially social work with children and young people. I have experiences as head of several research projects funded by the EU and the Danish Government. I am the author of more than 40 books and more articles, where some appear in the main European journals. I am a member of the editorial board for Nordic Social Work Research. I have been a reviewer for several books on Social Work and reviewed submissions on behalf of Journal of Social Work, European Journal of Social Work, Qualitative Social Work and Young. Next to research, I have developed and headed both a Master in Educational Sociology for Social Workers and a Master in Social Pedagogy. I teach and supervise on social work programmes (BA, MA and Ph.D. school).

Elena Cabiati

Relational social work research group, Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Milan, Italy

I’m a researcher and my main research interests are: Intercultural social work, Social work education and Child protection. I completed my Phd in 2014 with a doctoral thesis about child protection social workers. From the beginning of my academic pathway I’ve participated in national and internal research projects, including teaching periods abroad. At the moment I am teaching Methodology of social work and Intercultural social work at the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work programs at the Catholic University in Milan. I’m a social worker with more than 10 years’ experience in Child protection services, both as practitioner and manager. I’ve published several articles in international social work journals.

Sigrid James PhD,

MSW, Department of Social Work and Social Welfare, University of Kassel, Germany

After 30 years of studies, work and life in the United States, I have returned to Germany, my country of origin, where I have assumed a faculty position at the University of Kassel in the Department of Social Work and Social Welfare. My interests - first as a social work practitioner and later as a researcher – have always been at the intersection of child welfare and mental health. I am particularly interested in the delivery of effective services and interventions for those children and youth in the child welfare system that have experienced episodes in residential and psychiatric care. Within this context, I have written on the needs of these youth, promising program models and implementation issues, and some of my research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S.. I am a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and am also the current Editor-in-Chief of the international peer-reviewed journal Residential Treatment for Children and Youth.

Gorana Panić, Doctoral student

University of Jyväskylä/Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Finland

I am a doctoral student of Social work at the University of Jyväskylä/ Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Finland. My ongoing action research explores alternatives in social work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. My academic experience includes teaching social work courses at the University of Banja Luka (2006-2012), as well as guest teaching at Finnish universities (2013-…). My research interests are: critical social work, environmental social work, community organizing, social work education, resistance research, and action research. I am also interested in combining academic research with activism. Since 2011, I took part in several international networks for doctoral students in social work such as, The International Doctoral Studies in Social Work (INDOSOW), The International Social Work & Society Academy (TiSSA), as well as The European Social Work Research Association (ESWRA). As a doctoral student of ESWRA Board I am interested in contributing to further networking of doctoral students and early career researchers, as well contributing to discussion on how to act together as public intellectuals.

Jon Symonds

Lecturer in Children and Families Social Work at the University of Bristol, UK

I am a Lecturer in Children and Families Social Work at the University of Bristol, where I was awarded my PhD in 2015. I have taught on the MSc in Social Work since 2010 and currently convene units on communication skills, working with children and families, and working with families where there are complex needs (on the MSc Advanced Award in Social Work with Children and Families). I have a broad range of research interests and have published on the topics of working with fathers, practitioner engagement skills, and analysing social work interactions to understand practice. I have been a member of ESWRA since 2014 and was a doctoral member of the Board from 2014 – 2016, when I collaborated on developing the doctoral and early career network.

Karen Winter

Lecturer in Social Work, Queens University, Belfast

I am engaged in social work research that is organised under four main themes: children and young people in care; children’s rights; communication and relationships; vulnerable families and their children. The focus of my research is to improve outcomes for children and young people by research that: raises awareness about children’s rights and barriers that hinder opportunities for their engagement in rights; develops practice models; and evaluates programmes and services to ensure that children are benefiting and that service delivery achieves social justice by effectively addressing inequalities and discrimination. Research projects of which I am a team member are underpinned by both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and are multi-disciplinary. My work has contributed to the profile of high standard social work research as indicated through journal publications, research reports. My work is engaged with by practitioners regionally, nationally and internationally in their work with children.