The National Memorial Dedicated to the Victims of COVID-19. (c) Marjo Romakkaniemi 2022.

Social Work during COVID-19: Glocal Perspectives 24-25 November 2022

This international symposium will address social work during COVID-19 in varying ecological and social contexts. 

Even if there is plenty of experience in social work practice and research on working in human emergencies and natural disasters, the global COVID-19 pandemic has been a novel kind of experience for social work professionals, teams and organisations. Social workers, their clients and the organisations they represent have been affected by the pandemic in multiple ways. Social workers have been forced to experience the pandemic and its effects both as residents of the global village, citizens of the state and from their various social positions, one of which is the professional role of a social worker. Social workers have lived, worked and been parts of varying social-ecological fabrics, all of which define their professional operating environment. The pandemic and its effects on the lives of social workers have been pervasive and comprehensive in such a way that the boundaries between social workers’ private and working lives have faded away. Professionally, the pandemic has called for social workers to reflect, adapt, innovate and change their activities. 

The keynotes of the symposium are based on book called Social Work during COVID-19: Glocal Challenges and Implications for the Future of Social Work (to be published by Routledge, early April 2023). The objective of this symposium is to offer a wealth of knowledge related to social work in different local and cultural contexts during the global pandemic. With experienced social work researchers across a diversity of settings, contexts and research traditions, the symposium will be reflective of the ‘glocal’ responses of social work, where the phenomenon causing the need for social work is global and shared but in which the solutions being developed are often regional and local (think globally, act locally). Offering new perspectives on the challenges social workers have faced in dealing with the pandemic, the symposium aims to provide critical and timely insights into the innovations and adaptations in social work responses with a strong empirical basis. 

Schedule: Thursday 24th of November 10-15.15 (UTC+2) - Friday 25th of November 10-15.15 (UTC+2)

Location: Castrén-hall (room 115), University of Lapland, Yliopistonkatu 8, 96300, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Online participation possible. Link for attending on Zoom:

The symposium is free of charge, registration not required.

The event is hosted by Research Professor Timo Harrikari from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL.


Send Your correspondence, inquiries, and questions to
Tuomas Leppiaho ( or
Vera Fiorentino (


Thursday 24th of November 10-15.15

10.00–10.30 Opening remarks

Dean Professor Merja Laitinen, University of Lapland, Finland

Dr. Timo Harrikari, Research professor, Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare 

Senior Ministerial Adviser Juha Luomala, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

10.30–11.30 “The Interdependence of Structural Context and Social Work Practice in COVID-19 Pandemic in Slovenia”

Dr. Vesna Leškosek, professor of social work, University of Ljubjana, Slovenia 

Commentary remarks and discussion

Janne Autto, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Lapland

12.15–13.15 Lunch recess

13.15–14.00 “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Irish Child Protection Social Workers’ Experiences of a National Cyber-Attack during a COVID-19 Lockdown”

Dr. Joseph Mooney, Assistant Professor, University College Dublin, Ireland

14.00–14.30 Coffee recess

14.30–15.15 Commentary remarks and discussion

Samuel Salovaara, M.Soc.Sc., University teacher of Social Work, University of Lapland

 Friday 25th of November 10-15.15 (UTC+2)

10.00–10.15 Opening remarks

Dr. Timo Harrikari, Research professor, Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare 

10.15–11.15 “Social Work Research with Communities in Pandemic Context: Crises, Complexities and Possibilities”

Dr. Malathi Adusumalli, Professor of social work, University of Delhi, India

11.15–12.00 Commentary remarks and discussion

Enni Mikkonen, Post-doctoral researcher, University of Lapland

12.00–13.00 Lunch recess

13.00–14.00 “Social Worker Wellbeing and Coping during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the UK: Giving Voice to the Workforce in making Recommendations for Recovery”

Dr. Paula McFadden, Senior lecturer, Ulster University, Northern Ireland, UK

14.00–14.30 Coffee recess

14.30–15.00 Commentary remarks and discussion

Henri Izadi, M.Soc.Sc., Head of social and health services, Municipality of Tervola