International Summer University in Social Work 2014

The Summer University in social work aims at promoting exchanges between participants from various backgrounds, at facilitating comparative analysis and at stimulating new theoretical and professional approaches in social work. It offers a privileged place for discussions and debates to professors and students coming from many different countries (Switzerland, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, France, Italy, India, United States).

The theme of this edition is « Vulnerability, empowerment and social work ». We will discuss the complex interrelations between vulnerability and empowerment, two central concepts that are too frequently grasped separately in theoretical approaches. The conferences and workshops will be based on the most recent researches.

The international dimension of the event will help thinking critically and comparatively about what drives social work practice, often caught between an excessive concern for the protection of the most vulnerable and an idealistic ambition to enhance individual responsibilities and capacities.

This theme will be developed in close collaboration with the national research program, LIVES, entitled «Overcoming vulnerability: life course perspective» (

The organizing University


Involved and invested.

At the heart of society.

Driven by its values of openness, professional expertise and efficiency in the fields of social work and health, the HETSL adopted a new signature moto 2020 : "Involved and invested. At the heart of society."

This symbolises its commitment to grounding its action in social cohesion and integration of people in precarious situations. To achieve this, the HETSL relies on a strongly rooted participatory culture, including its institutional bodies, the Students' Association and regular exchanges with professional circles relaying the realities in the field and dialogue with its institutional partners.

The HETSL offers Bachelor's level courses in Social Work[Fr] and Occupational therapy[Fr]. Its teaching is practice-oriented and prepares tomorrow’s professionals to be involved at the heart of society. Within the HES-SO, the HETSL participates in Master level courses in its fields of expertise, thus offering its graduates the possibility of pursuing a tertiary training programme. It is active in continued education as well as in research and development. It also offers services to public and private organisations.

With its 180 employees and the help of numerous temporary workers, the HETSL offers training in two HES courses, aimed at a public of around 800 students: the Bachelor of Arts in Social Work[Fr] and the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy[Fr].

The HETSL is actively involved in the Master of Arts in Social Work[Fr], which is organised in French-speaking Switzerland with the Universities of Social Work in Geneva, Fribourg and Valais, as well as with SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences of Italian-speaking Switzerland. It is also involved in the organisation of the Master of Sciences in Health Sciences[Fr], a joint interprofessional Master's degree with the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the four universities of applied sciences in the domain of Health of the HES-SO.

The HETSL's Continued Education Unit[Fr] also offers short courses and certification courses (CAS, DAS, MAS), enabling professionals in the field to complete and perfect their training.

The Health and Social work Research Laboratory (LaReSS) conducts a great deal of research, which helps to advance current knowledge, solve practical problems, feeding it’s findings directly into teaching. The results of research are presented at conferences and give rise to numerous publications; LaReSS also provides services, particularly in the form of expertise and evaluation mandates. Finally, the HETSL benefits from specific expertise networks which, by bringing together cross-expertise in different fields, enable the development of teaching, research and cutting-edge services.

Visit the website!