Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


12 Jun 2016 - 18 Jun 2016
Course directors:
Jörg Zeller, University of Aalborg, Denmark
David Kergel, University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein, Germany
Course description:

New course – Precariat and Social Work

Sometimes we do not see the wood for the trees. Precariat “trees” grow everywhere. Seemingly, precariat – people facing extreme insecurity of life and work conditions – is an unavoidable fate for an increasing number of individuals. If it seems impossible to eliminate the causes of human misery, the only thing you can do is to alleviate its effects. This is usually taken as the task of social work. In a way, precariat thus becomes the principal issue of the social worker. What then shall we do about precariat in a School of Social Work course? Perhaps we could try to change the strategy and investigate the life-conditions of the wood instead of just treating symptoms of the trees. The intention of the course could then be to encourage its participants to use all their imagination, empathy, reason, experience, and intuition to find new ways of how a barely sustainable wood could be transformed into a life-affirming environment of whatever kind of trees.

Course directors (alphabetically):

David Kergel, University of Oldenburg, Germany

Jörg Zeller, University of Aalborg, Denmark

2016 Organising director:

Jörg Zeller, University of Aalborg, Denmark


Course description:

As a philosopher and organising director of a new social work IUC course I pondered upon why I should organise such a course, and, if I found an affirmative answer, how I should do this. The “why” is simply answered: precarity generates people that need social help and thus provides the raison d’etre for Social Work. So it seems obvious to deal with precarity issues in a Social Work School course. How to do this is more difficult. As a philosopher landing some years ago in Dubrovnik on Social Work soil I came to know a very pleasant, open-minded and experimenting atmosphere. With this background, I propose a workshop-like organisation of the precarity course that hopefully will inspire the participants to invent bold ideas and ingenious experiments about how precarised people could be empowered to get rid of the precarity damages of their life. I call the experimental method that I propose to apply for this purpose: Existential Theatre. It is inspired by Wittgenstein’s method of language games and by Brecht’s idea of an epic theatre that allows to experiment with alternative varieties of problem solving.

Attached documents