Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Being a civic practitioner; the civic literacy component of professional practice

Keywords: civic literacy, professions, learning, practice

Author: Mr Phil Harington (University of Auckland)

A growing debate about the capacity for social services and professional practice to achieve civic or transformative goals has lead to an increasing interest in civic practice. There are initiatives to inspire and challenge organisations and practice communities to better achieve gains for groups and communities that are not engaged in civic life and to work on the barriers and constraints that render civic vitality intractable.

This paper will look in particular at the prospect that civic literacy is a quality professional practitioners can use to shift the ways professional practice can respond to difference, support the developmental aspirations of different communities and take positions that challenge the reticence found in various sites to the civic aspirations of others. Drawing on material from recent literature on the 'de' and 're' professionalisation thesis the paper will refer to changing demographic structure of some professions, changes in the curriculum that guide the education of practice, the use of data and the obligation of practitioners to have a policy role in addition to their work with any population. The paper draws on observations made from the sociology of professions, the use of evidence based practice as a basis for professional development and organisational reform and recent research on the role of practitioners as researchers.

The paper should be of interest to practitioners, services and organisations, and those who use social and professional services. In particular the paper is designed to influence the way we think about professional education and the ways professions and those that comment on professions are redefining the concept in contemporary settings. The paper also draws some insight from the experience in New Zealand of professions working from a bicultural perspective. This could attract an audience with similar or contrary experience.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 2.00-2.30

Venue: Ochil Two

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).