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2012 03 Open conference 15 Mar 2012 in Aberdeen Print E-mail


RGU to host European seminar into systemic social work practice


Robert Gordon University (RGU) is set to host a seminar that will explore the current perspectives of a less-common - but arguably more effective - branch of social work practice.

Part of the ‘Systemic social work Throughout EuroPe’ (STEP) project, the one-day seminar will be hosted by the School of Applied Social Studies (SASS) at the University’s Garthdee campus on Thursday 15 March. Attendance at the event, which is free of charge, has been opened out to all practitioners and students of social work and related disciplines.

A Leonardo Programme-funded initiative, STEP has been established to investigate a common European perspective for Systemic Social Work - the branch of social work practice which seeks to effect change by broadening the focus from a person’s unfavourable circumstances to consider the environment in which these circumstances have developed.

This will be the second in a six-part series of conferences which are being run until the STEP project’s completion in 2013. The inaugural conference took place in the London Borough of Hackney from 28 September to 1 October 2011.

Presentations on the day will be delivered by members of the seven partner institutes of the €115,000 STEP project, as well as other experts and practitioners in the field.  The seminar seeks to encourage discussion, debate and the sharing of ideas and expertise, particularly on the topics of:

  • Teaching Systemic Social Work
  • The Principle of Feedback Loops
  • Systemic Ideas in Social Work-A Relational Approach
  • Promoting Systemic Practice in an Anti-Systemic Climate

Steve Hothersall, who is a senior lecturer within SASS, has taken the position of primary researcher at RGU for the STEP project and is working with the partner institutions in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, England and Finland. Together, they aim to establish the current extent of systemic practice in social work settings throughout these countries and to determine the degree to which such principles are being adopted.

Steve commented: “My colleagues and I are delighted to host this seminar, which will allow us to utilise our renowned expertise in social work education and support our objective to facilitate and contribute to in-depth debate on contemporary social work theory and practise.

“It is hoped that the interchange of ideas and practices arising from the conference series, and the subsequent development and dissemination of the findings of the STEP project’s review, will not only increase professional awareness of important systemic principles, but enhance the capacity of professionals to implement these principles confidently in their practice at all levels.

“Not only could this have profoundly positive effects on the lives of service users, but in focusing on the policy level as well as those areas that impact more intimately on people’s lives, the project offers the potential to influence change at the level of policy systems.”

The latest in the STEP Project conference series will take place on Thursday 15 March at Robert Gordon University’s Faculty of Health building from 9.30am – 5pm. Places are strictly limited to a maximum of 40 external members on a first-come-first-served basis. Those wishing to attend the event should email Steve Hothersall on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The STEP Project is being carried out in collaboration between:

For further information visit

The Leonardo Programme funds opportunities for UK vocational education & training organisations, staff and learners. Funding is for any UK organisation involved in vocational education & training.

20 February 2012

Issued by:

Andrew Youngson
Communications Officer | Faculty of Health and Social Care
Robert Gordon University

AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262389
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




0900: Arrival – Registration – Coffee

0930: Introduction and Overview – Prof. Stephen Vertigans [Acting Head of School]; Steve Hothersall

0945: ‘The Principle of Feedback Loops & their Meaning for Systemic Social Work in Social Systems’ – Prof. Walter Milowiz, ASYS, Vienna, Austria. more...

1045: Coffee

1115: ‘Systemic Ideas in Social Work: Towards a Relational Approach’ - Peter Robinson and Tracey Johnston, Institute of Systemic Therapy (Scotland) [InSyT]. more...

1230: Lunch

1330: ‘Teaching Systemic Social Work’ – Prof. Johannes Herwig-Lempp, Hochschule Merseburg, Germany. more...

1430: ‘Systemic Principles in Practice – Aberdeenshire Council – Dr. Gill Kitching, Aberdeenshire Council. more...

1515: Coffee

1530: ‘UK Politics and Systemic Principles’ – Mike Maas-Lowit, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. more...

1615: ‘Systemic Principles in the Policy Domain: Implications for Practice’ – Steve J Hothersall, Robert Gordon University. more...

1700: Close

STEP: Systemic social work Throughout EuroPe

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