Social work and social policy education has always provided important contribution to the societies by producing professionals that are equipped for interventions that affect social welfare, social justice and social rights and that empower citizens to overcome social risks and social problems. Given the large amount of pressing social needs and the limited amount of resources, there are benefits from uniting forces across neighboring countries and creating regional capacities for training and research in social work and social policy.
The main idea behind the Central European Social Policy and Social Work Network (CESPASWON) is to build up on previously existing cooperation practices in the region (i.e. among ex-Yugoslav countries) and extend the links with new partners (i.e. Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary) in order to establish academic alliances among universities that will nurture, promote and advance the regional social work and social policy research and teaching. In that respect, the network heritage lies in joint mutual activities undertaken within previous and current projects and networks, such as: SweBiH (1997-2001), East European regional Association of Schools of Social Work (since 2008), LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in SEE (since 2009), Southeast European Social Policy Initiative (since 2013), Eastern European Social Policy Network (since 2016), etc. Notwithstanding the importance and undertakings within these networks, still there is a growing need to respond to the changing demands for skills and competencies in social work and social policy. Hence, the network purpose is to promote and enrich exchange of teaching practices and to broad studying opportunities by providing collaborative regional dimension and flexible learning for students of social work and social policy, as well as for other related disciplines in the Central and Eastern Europe.
The CESPASWON was formed in 2019 as a consortium of eight university partners. As of the academic 2023/24 CESPASWON network is comprised of nine universities from eight countries from Central and Eastern Europe, including:
- Institute of Social Work and Social Policy, Faculty of Philosophy, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, North Macedonia (coordinator)
- Carinthia University of Applies Sciences, Austria
- Department of Social Work, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Czech Republic
- Faculty of Social Work, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade, Serbia
- Department of Social Work, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia
- Department of Social Work, Faculty of Political Science, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Department of Social Work, Faculty of Political Science, University of Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Institute of Social Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary