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Student volunteerism as a thread of community engagement: its salience to social work education
Social Work Education  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-12-23, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2021.2021172
Kimberly Chetty, Raisuyah Bhagwan


The advancement of community engagement as an interrelated aspect of teaching and research compels social work education to consider how it may create opportunities to strengthen notions of social responsibility amongst its students. Volunteerism offers one promising pathway whereby students can appreciate societal problems and learn a diverse range of skills in community organizations or spaces that are relevant to the profession. This paper presents data from a qualitative inquiry with child and youth care students (N = 14), who spent time doing voluntary work in vulnerable communities, organizations and in vulnerable community areas, in South Africa. Semi structured in depth interviews and a reflective group discussion was used to understand the student volunteer experience more closely and the opportunities it brings to advance learning in a social work context. The study found through these objectives, enhanced opportunities for acquiring discipline specific knowledge and the acquisition of important values and principles to support their professional journey. Most importantly it exemplified the need for partnerships between disciplinary departments in universities and communities to be strengthened as part of social responsiveness.