While the term social wellbeing is used frequently, in academia there does not seem to be a conclusive agreement on what the notion stands for. Various scholars however agree that social wellbeing is a multidimensional concept (Vella, Azzopardi & Falzon, 2019). Nonetheless, for the second consecutive year the World Wellbeing Week 2020 is being celebrated.
Although not considered part of the United Nation’s International Recognition Days, initiatives and celebrations went global last year.
As a Faculty we realise the importance of such days and weeks, yet as the fulcrum of our work, our efforts towards social wellbeing continue throughout the year. We strive to be an informed, assertive, logical, academic voice that identifies and reflects social aspirations, promoting awareness, prevention and positive intervention.
Our foundation is based on the generation of researchers, academics and practitioners in the social sector who are prepared to address needs which are either specific to particular social groups, but also broad social challenges which may be either causes or consequences of other challenges. This is done through the ample courses at undergraduate, postgraduate as well as Doctoral levels, offered by our nine departments which address different aspects of social wellbeing and in many ways represents disciplines: Social Work and Social Policy, Counselling, Psychology, Family, Disability, and Criminology, Youth and Community, Development, Gender and Sexuality, and Gerontology and Dementia.
The theoretical aspects and understanding of grand theories is given the importance it rightly so deserves in the academic world, our Faculty also seeks to give students practical experiences, where they can better understand the application of such theories, as well as explore realities in our country.
Moreover, through events such as the Annual Dean’s Forum we encourage our students to voice their informed opinions and prepare them to have open discussions and debates about pressing social problems, and also to critically think and challenge social, economic, political and technological progress.
Our Faculty is also highly committed to contributing to social wellbeing by delivering evidence-based research focusing on issues that characterise society, identifying challenges and opportunities, and presenting practical, efficient and effective interventions. Our academics and research support officers contribute through published work, some of which has been invaluable to society and academia. Many a times, our staff does not work alone, but rather in interdisciplinary teams, which allows for new insights towards the outcomes of such research project. Eventually, findings and research outcomes are also disseminated through different mass and social media, training opportunities, and public lectures to raise awareness about the realities of various social groups within our communities.
In recent years, the Faculty, also worked more closely with stakeholders. A number of action-based research projects have been commissioned by different stakeholders in the sector, including Government, public entities, non-governmental organisations and the private sector; which are aimed to not only provide evidence-based research but more so to influence the decision-making process for policy and service provision.
Collaboration is essential for social innovation, whereby novel solutions are found and implemented to address social challenges in a modern world. Therefore, stakeholders’ positive experience and willingness to work together with the Faculty is essential, hence why we hold an annual Stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the work of the Faculty, how we can better serve our society and improve on our outreach and inter-sectoral collaboration. During this year’s edition of the Stakeholders’ Meeting, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 individuals from different sectors participated, providing us with feedback in order to continuously improve our work.
The future continues to look good for the Faculty, as strive to reach out not just to stakeholders but also service users; continue to encourage compassion and excellence amongst our students, and further strengthening and supporting the voice of civil society towards more positive social change for the wellbeing of society at large.