We planned it as a conference, named “Challenges in Arctic Social Work”. But it failed. Only three academics sent abstracts, and too few participants were on our lists when we had to decide on what to do. So we cancelled the conference. Out of the ashes, a new kind of meeting raised.

We decided to invite the eight members of our working group to a network meeting to discuss our future challenges. At the same time, we offered the three academics who had made their abstracts to come and present them to this group. We also prepared for comments and discussions on the three abstracts. This worked out very well. We held the seminar and the meeting in “House of Science and letters” in Helsinki, Finland on Nov. 20th. The presented papers were very interesting to us who work in social work education and research in the “high north”. The three academics were satisfied with the comments and support they got for their work.

The network meeting was also useful in terms of ideas to develop future cooperation. We agreed to perform a Questback among institutions offering social work in University of the Arctic to identify what research and teaching interests there are within the network. We also want to ask them how such a thematic network could be a useful contribution to their work. We will also continue working on placements for students across the Arctic, and share lectures over Skype between institutions. Last, but not least: We will investigate the possibilities to combine network meetings and scientific seminars in the future.

It is always sad when something doesn’t work as you hope. This time the result was a fresh seminar and a stimulating network meeting!

By: Asgeir Solstad, Nord university, Norway