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Social work community honours leading academic

29 October 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

UK-wide virtual book club pays tribute to Professor Olive Stevenson

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has paid tribute to the leading social work academic of her generation, Professor Olive Stevenson, through its latest virtual book club group meeting which attracts participants from around the country.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has paid tribute to the leading social work academic of her generation, Professor Olive Stevenson, through its latest virtual book club group meeting which attracts participants from around the country.

Professor Harry Ferguson from the University of Nottingham and Professor June Thoburn CBE from the University of East Anglia joined UCLan students in Preston and other social work students from all over the country via Twitter to discuss Reflections on a Life in Social Work: A Personal & Professional Memoir, by Professor Olive Stevenson, which was published in 2013 three months before she died.

The book club group’s national learning community, which began less than two years ago, came together to share their thoughts on the text and the impact Olive made on the social work profession. Olive was the founding editor of the British Journal of Social Work and attracted media attention in the 1970s as a member of the inquiry into the death from abuse of the seven-year-old Maria Colwell.

Professor Harry Ferguson, who wrote the foreword to Olive’s memoir, commented: “Olive inspired and helped to shape the lives and careers of several generations of social workers and academics and her research and public service work contributed hugely to improving the well-being and safety of countless vulnerable children and adults who use social work services.

“Olive inspired and helped to shape the lives and careers of several generations of social workers and academics"

“Olive's memoir of 60 years in the profession was published three months before her death and provides important and fascinating insights into social work, past and present, and the influences on and motivations of a truly remarkable woman.”

The UCLan @SWBookGROUP has taken teaching out of the classroom and into a digital community of students, academics and practitioners that may not otherwise meet to debate and share ideas. A pilot project part-funded by the Higher Education Academy now means that seven universities now participate in monthly discussions via the hashtag #swbk on topical social work issues prompted by their latest book.

Harry Ferguson added: “The highly innovative UCLan social work book club group is at the cutting edge of higher education in the social media age. It has established itself as a leading platform for national and global debates about social work. Under the inspirational leadership of Amanda Taylor the book group is making a huge contribution to promoting learning about how social work can best respond to the most pressing social problems in society.”

UCLan senior social work lecturer Amanda Taylor had led the book club group from the beginning. She said: “It’s fantastic that Harry and June have shown their support for the book club group by leading this month’s discussion on Olive Stevenson’s memoir.

“It provides social work students from around the UK with the chance to engage in lively debates with some of the profession’s most respected researchers and creates a dynamic and interactive learning environment.”