Edition 2012


The Summer University in social work provides a unique opportunity to address social problems and professional challenges in a new way. In 2012, it will focus on intergenerational relationships, with special attention given to "end of life" issues. 

End of life and social work

The ‘end- of-life’ term refers to a particular time period experienced by individuals whose life expectancy is reduced, in decline or suddenly comes to its term rather than to an age group or a life phase.  This last moment of life, that may or may not come about in a predictable way, also includes all elements of care and support offered to dying persons and their close relatives between the time when death is near and the beginning of the mourning period.

During the last thirty years, social work has progressively invested the ‘end-of-life’ field. Social work has contributed to adapting social support to the reality of severely ill people and to the needs of their relatives experiencing ruptures, crises and death. Inspired by health care practices and by specific palliative care approaches, it has participated in interdisciplinary and inter-professional efforts to provide help and support. Social work has increasingly sought to develop its own stance on individual, yet collectively relevant issues of ethics, psychology, societal issues and public policies such as :

  • respect of individuals’ autonomy and self-determination,
  • social integration,
  • support provided to residents of social care institutions,
  • family and informal carers’ roles,
  • gender relations,
  • types and roles of rituals as well as bereavement support for employees or for clients of social services.

The 2012 Summer University will focus on the way social work addresses these issues. It will attempt to define the role and place social work should take in a wide range of ‘end-of-life’ situations :

  • How does the part played by social work fit in with tasks carried out by other professionals ?
  • What is its specific contribution to families, close friends or the social environment ?
  • To what extent do social workers become engaged in ‘end-of-life’ care and how far should they go in order to legitimate their skills and usefulness in the fields of end of life, death and mourning ?
  • How does social work face these realities in different national contexts ?

For two weeks, participants in the Summer University will be given the opportunity to explore these questions, discuss them with various international experts, share experiences from their own professional backgrounds and strengthen their common analyses of specific issues during workshops.


From July 2nd to July 13th

The Summer University 2012 will take place in Lausanne at the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland · EESP · Lausanne (www.eesp.ch).

Field visits and social events will be organized in Lausanne, Geneva, Fribourg and Valais.

Assessment and credits

6 ECTS credits will be awarded to students meeting the following requirements :

  • Prep on selected literature and draft of a project ;
  • Participation to the entire Summer University program
  • Finalization of an original social work project in a small group ;
  • Short personal essay on participation in the Summer University.


Swiss universities do not usually have on-campus housing. Solutions of housing for the duration of the Summer school will be proposed to the foreign students if needed.

If you need accomodation, send an email to : info@susw.ch


Lectures will be given in English OR French.

Translation will be provided, but some level of proficiency in both languages is useful.