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Thomas Kampen becomes the new Professor of Social Work

21 September 2023

The Executive Board of the University of Humanistic Studies has appointed Dr Thomas Kampen as professor of Social Work. The appointment will take effect from 1 October 2023. The chair is new and unique in the Netherlands and focuses on implications of social developments for social work. The content of this chair is supported by the professional organisations and fits the research agenda of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

From the Social Work chair, sociologist Thomas Kampen will focus on promoting research on the impact of three developments on social work practice and professional development: growing social inequality, increasing polarisation, and emerging justice issues. Thomas Kampen explains, "These developments are central because they touch on the core of social work: helping people who cannot manage on their own and bridging differences between people. I welcome this place where knowledge can come together and this important field can develop further."

Master in Social Work

Professor Thomas Kampen will also work on the development of an academic master's in Social Work at the University of Humanistic Studies in the coming years. Rector and Chair of the Executive Board Joke van Saane: "As a university, we want to contribute to a humane and meaningful society through our research and education. This new chair in Social Work fits our mission and role in society. We hope that both the chair and the master's will contribute to the recognition of the social and scientific importance of social work."

Professional field

The chair is supported by several parties organised around social work, including the professional association for social work professionals (BPSW), the trade association Sociaal Werk Nederland, the Social Work Foundation (SSW), the Stronger Social Work Foundation, and the Marie Kamphuis Foundation. Jan Willem Bruins of the professional association BPSW: "Internationally, the Netherlands was one of the last countries where social work was not yet an academic discipline. It is a gratifying fact that social work now also has a place at university in the Netherlands. We look forward to working with Thomas Kampen who is conducting valuable research in the field of social work."

About Thomas Kampen

Sociologist Thomas Kampen has spent many years researching social work by neighbourhood teams and social service client managers, and client experiences with public services. He has published on these topics in international academic journals, Dutch-language professional journals such as Sprank and Tijdschrift voor Sociale Vraagstukken, and books for a wide audience, including Streng maar onrechtvaardig, De verhuizing van de verzorgingsstaat and De affectieve burger. He received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2014 and has been at the University of Humanistic Studies since 2015, as associate professor and training coordinator. In 2021, he was a fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies and from 2016 to 2019 part-time lecturer at Hogeschool Inholland.

About the chair

The Social Work chair focuses on the implications of three developments in the field of social work: growing social inequality (1), increasing polarisation (2), and emerging justice issues (3)

  1. Social inequality is growing in several areas. Income inequality is growing, but opportunity inequality in education, the labour market and good health is also increasing. Social workers more often have to deal with people who are socially disadvantaged in several areas. Research into the impact of this on social work is urgent.
  2. Polarisation between population groups is also increasing. For several decades, this has mainly been between population groups with different religious or political beliefs, but in recent years it has also increasingly been between groups with widely differing trust in professionals and science, and between urban and rural areas. There is an urgent need for knowledge on appropriate ways to deal with this.
  3. There are all kinds of justice issues that also affect social work, think of the MeToo movement, the benefits affair or denouncing institutional racism. Social work can play a role in facilitating dialogue on justice, but also in redressing historical injustices. To know how, research is needed.

Thomas Kampen: "All these developments require our attention, whether it is about the changing nature of the issues social workers face, the search for appropriate methodologies, or the position and role of social workers."

The Executive Board of the University of Humanistic Studies has appointed Dr Thomas Kampen as professor of Social Work. The appointment will take effect from 1 October 2023.