Social Work Summer School for Master students

Faculty exchange in the field of social work has existed between HAW Hamburg and its strategic partner, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), since 2017. Through guest lectures on both sides of the Atlantic, Nancy Meyer-Adams and Daniela Ulber have built a strong collaboration that has become a deep friendship between colleagues. A joint summer school for Master students has been in the pipeline for several years and now, after the pandemic, it was finally possible. In May 2023, Nancy, accompanied by her colleagues Jason Plummer and Randy Hope, brought 32 CSULB students to Germany for two weeks.

Large group of students and professors

CSULB-HAW Hamburg Social Work Summer School SoSe23

The summer school was organised by Daniela Ulber, Silke Betscher, Sabine Stoevesand and Fabian Fritz from the Department of Social Work at HAW Hamburg together with Dagmar Bergs-Winkels, a former HAW Hamburg colleague who is now a professor at Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences (ASH Berlin). The first week was in Berlin, where students got an introduction to German history and the German political system. There was a walking tour of the ccity centre, a trip to the former sanatoriums in Beelitz and to the palace of Sanssouci.

The group visited a Muslim kindergarten and the Islamic Cultural Centre as well as 'Goldnetz Berlin', where they learned about the German social security system, the organisation's different fields of activity and, more specifically, three projects for the empowerment of women. However, input did not come only from the German side. CSULB students were given the opportunity to talk to students at ASH Berlin about different fields of social work and early childhood education and care in California.

After a week in Berlin, the students travelled to Hamburg, where the main focus of the second week was on social institutions and community-based work. The programme included a tour of the Sankt Georg district, where a former social worker discussed social problems and areas of development and also underlined how LGBTQ is rooted in this part of the city. The group also visited the container social project on the HAW Hamburg campus, which supports homeless women, transgender and queer people. It is run on a voluntary basis and social work students do paid internships there. At ITECH school, a vocational school in Wilhelmsburg, the group learned about school social work and the counselling of pupils, as well as the idea of competence orientation.

During the summer school, I embraced the unknown, expanding my horizons with every step. Through late-night conversations in cozy cafes and the warmth of new friendships, Germany became my classroom, teaching me not only the beauty of knowledge but also the courage to navigate the world with an open heart.

David, CSULB MA Social Work

The CSULB guests participated in Silke Betscher’s 'Community work and development' seminar, which was held in the Veddel district that day. Together with German students, the group visited Poliklinik Veddel, a community health centre, where they learned about its work and the Community Health Survey and were taken on a tour of the district by community researchers and residents.

As in Berlin, the Long Beach students were given the opportunity to talk to Hamburg Master students about social work in the USA, looking at the foundation of social work and the current challenges. There was a vivid discussion that was deepened in informal groups at the welcome reception that followed. The session was one of the highlights of the semester for the German students. Rebecca Mendez wrote of her experience: 'Two highlights that stood out to me were the women’s container project and the Hamburg sports team, St Pauli. It was so awesome to witness social work in action in ways we do not commonly practice in the US. It inspired me to start advocating for these changes back home.'

A special treat on the last day was a visit to Hamburg’s soccer club, FC St. Pauli. The club’s Corporate Social Responsibility department organises social projects for young people and workshops for youth groups and young fans. There was also an opportunity to visit the stadium. In the afternoon there was a neighbourhood tour of the St. Pauli district with Sabine Stövesand under the motto 'Walk – Look – Listen – Watch'. Following the completion of an open questionnaire, the results were analysed and discussed in groups.

Nancy Meyer-Adams sums up the two weeks: ‘We had a wonderful time together as a group. We learned a lot from each other. The farewell evening at a pizzeria at Schanzenviertel was a particularly special mixture of conversation about the past two weeks and how it will impact the way they look at their profession as social workers, as well as a lot of fun and laughter!’

Daniela Ulber adds: ‘We were impressed by the openness, cordiality and liveliness of our Long Beach guests. The summer school has deepened our relationship even further. We are already discussing the next summer school as well as COIL* classes for 2024 and will be planning them in more detail during our visit to CSULB in November.’


* Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)


Prof. Dr. Daniela Ulber
Dept. Soziale Arbeit
HAW Hamburg

Ingrid Weatherall
International Office