The Global Transformation and Social Work Practice is a partnership under DAAD, a German academic exchange organisation. The partnership is made up of four universities – Fachhochshule Dortmund, University of Johannesburg (through SARChI Welfare and Social Development Interim Chair Prof Tanusha Raniga), University of KwaZulu-Natal and Midland State University.

The four-year programme aims to build Sustainable Development Goal partnerships between countries of the “Global North” and the “Global South”.

In July, Prof Raniga and her team organised an event in collaboration with DAAD at the UJ JBS Park campus in Auckland Park. This event was part of the Global Transformation and Social Work Practice partnership. The symposium spanned four days and centred around the theme of “Human Rights, The Sustainable Development Goals, and Social Work Practice in Germany and Africa.”


The first day commenced with a warm welcome from the DAAD Research team and Prof Kammila Naidoo, the Executive Dean at the Faculty of Humanities at UJ. She said, “I hope that this symposium will create many new opportunities for the sharing of important research and insights across the North and South and create space for clarification of core problems that could become central to a new agenda that will bind and sustain relations between all the universities participating here.”


From the left: Prof Kammila Naidoo, Dr Mildred Mushunje, Prof Tanusha Raniga, Prof Michael Boecker, Dorothée Boecker,  Dr Maud Mthembu.

Subsequently, students engaged in experiential group activities, which culminated in presentations on a range of research topics related to the Sustainable Development Goals and covered the following themes:

  • The living conditions of women and children in poverty in Johannesburg
  • The impact of the Ukraine/Russia war on social work
  • Covid-19’s effects on the poverty experiences of single mothers in the uMkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)
  • The influence of disasters and globalisation on poverty programs in KZN
  • Lessons on food security, nutrition, and child well-being from Gauteng & Limpopo
  • The ramifications of economic globalisation on families in post-Covid-19 Zimbabwe

Distinguished guest speakers Dr Jessie Turton, a senior research fellow at UJ and Dr Tracie Rogers Lecturer from the University of West Indies also presented on GBV. Both presenters expanded on the theme of gender equality and intersectionality, exploring subjects like South African and West Indies’ perspectives on women, poverty, and gender-based violence, as well as the role of values, culture, and policy in addressing these issues through social work responses.

The symposium facilitated collaborative work among students, allowing them to present jointly, fostering valuable networking opportunities and deeper connections with their peers. Beyond the academic sphere, the students had the chance to explore a bit of South Africa – beginning with a visit to the UJ food garden, which is integral to the university’s food justice initiative. Additionally, a visit to the Rosebank Market exposed students to an array of local creative arts and crafts.

The concluding day of the event featured a guided tour of Soweto led by Vangeli Dlamini, a staff member at the CSDA. This tour encompassed historically significant sites, including Nelson Mandela’s House, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and Vilakazi Street. The students also had the opportunity to expand this exhilarating experience at an intercultural networking and social dinner.

Bongane Mzinyane, Social Work lecturer and PhD candidate, wrote a poem that captures the symposium wonderfully. You can read it here.