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Institute of Advanced Study

Socratic Dialogue Workshops

Institute of Advanced Study, Cosin's Hall, Durham University, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL

Two workshops:

1)   Wednesday 11th June, 2008, 11 am to 4 pm:

'What is the place of passion in social welfare work?'

 2) Monday 23rd June, 2008, 2 pm to 4 pm:

'What is the place of vocation in social welfare work?'

Has social welfare work (social, youth and community work) lost its heart? What is or should be the balance between regarding workers as committed practitioners working for social transformation and/or as technical functionaries working to government-defined policies and procedures? These are perennial questions in social, youth and community work - faced anew by each generation of practitioners in the constantly changing social, political and practice contexts in which they work. In these dialogue workshops we will explore together what place there is for ‘passion' and ‘vocation' in contemporary social welfare work by means of a truncated version of Socratic dialogue. The aims of the workshops will be twofold: to provide a space to share ideas and experiences on the nature and role of ‘passion' and ‘vocation' in social welfare work today; and to introduce participants to Socratic dialogue as a method that can be used in teaching and research. The first workshop will allow time for an extended dialogue and for reflections on the use of Socratic dialogue in teaching and research. The second workshop will offer a truncated dialogue, and a brief introduction to the method.

Socratic dialogue is a means of exploring complex philosophical concepts or questions with a group of people. It is a method by which a group works together with a facilitator to find an answer to a well-formed philosophical question (such as: ‘What is justice?', ‘When is it right to lie?' or in this case: ‘What is the place of ‘passion'/‘vocation' in youth work?'). The procedure involves collecting concrete examples relevant to the question from the participants, choosing one example to work on, exploring the chosen example, articulating its core statement and agreeing on principles in answer to the general question. This approach is used to engage members of the public in ‘Socratic cafés' or other arenas and in teaching practical ethics.

The workshops will be facilitated by Sarah Banks, Community and Youth Work Studies Unit, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University. She will write a brief report afterwards and circulate to participants. She would also like to seek permission of participants to use the findings of the dialogue (anonymised - no participants' names would be used) in research she is doing on the commitments and roles of professional practitioners.

Bookings:  Audrey Bowron, 0191 3342589, Please complete and return booking form below 

For other queries: Sarah Banks, 0191 3341497,