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Social Work and Exclusion

An international study programme in English - March to July each year

How do you work in different fields of social work and special education? International fields of social work such as migration, political crisis and processes of globalization play a mayor role in learning social work today. With the nowadays challenges for social work, it is safe to say that international qualification in social work becomes more essential than ever. And that is why you will be profiting from our curriculum of “Social Work and Exclusion”, which we offer each summer semester at our campuses in Muenster and Cologne. It will help gain knowledge, skills and experiences in social work practice and theory.

As an international student, you will form one group during the whole semester. You will study side by side with our local students and be a part of our small family campus. Also, you will be provided special support by student buddies and faculty members. Starting with a welcome week and taking part in a one-week excursion to Berlin will highlight your studying with us, as well as a cultural programme which allows you to get to know the vibrant city of Cologne.

Within the programme, you can obtain 30 ECTS. Your learning outcomes will be documented in a transcript of records.


Find out more about the study programme join one of our online info sessions:

Dates 2024:  May 6th, June 10th, July 1st, August 5th, September 2nd

Time: 1 p.m. (CEST)

For participation, please register at incoming[at]katho-nrw.de



Name: Tereza Fikarová

Study programme and home university: Social work, University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic

At katho I had the possibility to study the program of Social Work in English but in the German-speaking towns of Muenster and Cologne! Both cities are great, but I just fell in love with Muenster deeply.

Muenster is a small student city but with so many activities. The most interesting: bicycling here! Everywhere is such pretty nature, a lot of green areas, with a green belt around the old town, where you can ride. Students will find a big number of bars, pubs, food & clubs scattered around. The prices are student-friendly as well.

We had at katho very interactive classes, where teachers not just explained the theory but also asked students about their opinions. We could work in groups, so we got to know a lot of German students. Not just students, but also professors and the international team were so helpful and understanding with everything! It is such a good feeling that even when you are so far from your home, you can still rely on so many people.

Courses Cologne 2024

The seminar works on the theoretical and methodological foundations of civic education. An emphasis lies on the role of conflicts in democratic systems, the claim for participation and the importance of deliberation. As civic education is anchored in formal, non-formal and informal settings, we will discuss the different challenges and the specific tasks of social workers. Next to theoretical discussions we will also work activly with a variety of didactic methods which open up the possibility for students to try out specific methods of civic education.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Isabelle-Christine Panreck
Credits: 3 ECTS

In this seminar, after a detailed introduction to the subject of sexuality and its social discourse, conclusions will be drawn for a meaningful, individual and target group-related sexual education in the field of social work and various practical concepts will be (critically) discussed. As a basis, sexual human rights as children's rights are discussed and prepared in a lecture.

To understand sexuality in all its complexity requires an intensive examination of normative, traditional ideas of sexuality, but also in the light of medical, psychological and social aspects of sexuality. Due to the omnipresence of sexuality in public discourse (e.g. in the context of the sexual abuse debate or in connection with different views of adolescent sexuality) it is essential for social workers to include this topic in their repertoire of knowledge, attitudes and actions and to deconstruct various lines of discourse.

In the second part of the seminar, the scientific findings elaborated in the first part will be used in the discussion and reflection of sex education concepts and methods.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Karla Verlinden
Credits: 3 ECTS

Democratic societies thrive on an exchange of arguments. In the ideal, free and equal Citizens meet to discuss and shape their community. In reality, however, democracy is increasingly under pressure: distorted truths, fake news or outright lies erode the democratic quality of discourse. The seminar examines the challenges of contemporary democracy from the perspectives of Political Theory and Social Work and asks for concrete consequences for the practice of social workers and Citizenship educators. What challenges do arise from fake news and populism, particularly in the field of Social Work? How can fake news and serious press articles be distinguished in the digital world? What paths can social work take to enable its clients to have a voice in society and politics? The seminar uses a variety of didactic methods to discuss the questions above.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Isabelle-Christine Panreck
Credits: 3 ECTS 

Adolescence is a vulnerable phase in life. Therefore, adolescents are a frequent target group of social work interventions. In order to develop strategies for social work to improve the lives of adolescents, we need to understand the societal risk factors that threaten their wellbeing. The seminar draws on international research by UNICEF and the University of Cambridge to discuss the potential of social work to foster adolescent wellbeing in different countries.

Lecturer: Dr. Sebastian Kurten
Credits: 3 ECTS

Datafication, algorithmization, and platformization are changing the way we work in the 21st century, as artificial intelligence, networked sensors, and communicating machines become increasingly embedded in human everyday practices. Dealing with this entanglement requires a high degree of digital (self-)reflection. In this sense, digital literacy means above all a critical engagement with questions of data ethics and a digital canon of values, in addition to knowledge of changing methods and technologies. Consequently, the seminar is about what knowledge, skills and attitudes are needed in Social Work where data, algorithms and platforms play an increasingly important role in decision-making processes.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Karolin Kappler
Credits: 3 ECTS

Social Inequality and Social Segregation threaten social cohesion. Thus, both challenge social policy and social work concepts. With population structured by socio-structural characteristics like income, wealth, education, migration history or occupation, we find various forms of segregation in the social space of cities and neighborhoods because these attributes are often interrelated and associated with (dis-)advantageous life chances. Social Inequalities are particularly evident in local communities, where they induce Social Segregation and thus lead to social spaces in which disadvantageous or advantageous living conditions are highly concentrated. Community organizing and focusing on special groups and their needs is key for social work. The seminar outlines and reflects on these processes with a view to intervention opportunities of social work. It is planned to organize a joint session with students from Monmouth University (USA) at the end of the seminar, which will place the topic in an international context.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Werner Schönig & Prof. Dr. Sebastian Wen, in cooperation with Joelle Zabotka (Monmouth University, USA)
Credits: 3 ECTS

Prejudices are omnipresent. On the one hand, their function is to simplify a complex environment; on the other hand, they are the basis of some of the worst human behaviors humans show. Thus, racism, sexism, nationalism, and other isms are based on the attribution of negative stereotypes to people who are perceived to belong to a certain social group. We will take a deeper look into theoretical and empirical findings of social psychology. This aims to help us to understand the research paradigms and therefore critically reflect the possibilities and limitations of social psychological findings on prejudice. Furthermore, mechanisms for reducing prejudice derived from social psychology will be discussed. In the manner of a creative workshop, we will develop and discuss hypothetical anti-prejudice concepts for social work related settings.

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Frischknecht & Franziska Sawitzki, M.Sc.
Credits: 4,5 ECTS

In this course we are going to address the topic of poverty in Germany. We will study theories on poverty and discuss how to apply them to social work. Furthermore, the students will do mini research projects, which look into specific aspects of poverty by analysing available survey data of the German population. In order to conduct the research projects, we will use the statistic program SPSS. In the end of the seminar the mini-projects will be presented and discussed.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Wen
Credits: 3 ECTS

Courses Muenster 2024

Child protection includes legal regulations as well as interventions that serve to protect children from potential or existing harm and danger. The term 'child protection' has different meanings in theory and practice.

This course is devided into three parts. First we will discover the German youth and child welfare system, in which the sociopedagogical and the sovereign part of child protection is embedded. Part of that is the examination of terms like primary, secondary and tertiary protection, child maltreatment and endangerment of the child's well-being, too. Apart from those legal and theoretical issues, questions of the role and position of children, their participation and their perspectives on child protection will be addressed.

The second part inculdes visits to different child protection projects in Münster.

In the third part, we will examine the visits in the light of the acquired theoretical knowledge, evaluate your experiences of the German child protection system and make conclusions on how child protection can increase social exclusion as well as how it can contribute to social inclusion efforts.

The course will be held in English, but we will use any other language which can ensure the understanding of all topics. Every student of the international programme as well as each student at the katho is welcome!

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Judith Haase
Credits: 3 ECTS

Description follows soon

Lecturer: Dr. Aurica Jax
Credits: 3 ECTS

Social work and inclusive education are two professions working in a variety of sociocultural contexts, encountering different norms and values. In a pluralistic society in transition, a variety of social skills are key competences for social professionals. Basic preconditions are awareness of one's own cultural background and a sensitivity for cultural plurality. Based on practical experiences students will reflect their own cultural identity and its relevance for professional capabilities. Transcultural learning is understood as a process, by participating Students will learn practical skills.

Lecturer: Michael Rölver, M.Sc.
Credits: 3 ECTS

Description follows soon

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jochen Bonz
Credits: 3 ECTS

Description follows soon

Lecturer: N.A.
Credits: 0 ECTS

The issue of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) in hetero-, homo- and bisexual relationships is significant with regard to the physical and mental health and safety of women, trans* people, children and men as well. In this course we will discuss challenges to define and to scientifically investigate the problem as well as sociological approaches to explain and differentiate IPVA and its dynamics. 

The basis of this course are findings from anglo-american research, data about the extent of IPVA in Germany and Europe, consequences of legal regulations in Germany and approaches in social work to support victims of IPVA as well as to work with perpetrators.

The participation in this course requires the willingness to read, prepare and present English texts, because

in this course, your preparation for the module exam/ the transcript of records takes place by preparing one session of the course. For german students additionally key take home messages of all topics covered are part of the module exam.

But: you don’t have to be a perfect English speaker, because in this course we all will be learners, me as well as you.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Christine Rohleder
Credits: 3 ECTS

Mediation is known as a concept and a method for helping and assisting conflicting sides in finding a mutual satisfying solution by an impartial third party.  It has become an important element for intervention in many fields of application, like victim-offender mediation, peer-mediation in schools, community-neighbourhood mediation, divorce-mediation and many more. Furthermore, mediation has become popular as a tool in business, politics and legal affairs. Hence, it will be beneficial to focus on the concept, the methods and the role of the mediator. Of particular interest for this seminar will be the training aspect, that is the chance to roleplay in order to enhance ones own competencies.

Lecturer:Prof. Dr. Georg Albers
Credits: 3 ECTS

Peacebuilding and Social Work have more in common than one might think. Interventions in conflict in and between societies might require social work knowledge, and ideas of (liberal) peacebuilding are beneficial for theoretical and practical strategy building in any given context. In this seminar we will identify the overlap of both, focusing on theory and practice of change and organised help. Aspects will be social/restorative justice, reconciliation, multi-track approaches, peace education, dialogues among others. Additionally, we will have a closer look on fields of application in an international context and understand the chances for ones own professional biography and job opportunities.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Georg Albers
Credits: 3 ECTS

Description follows soon

Lecturer: Prof. Christopher Beermann
Credits: 3 ECTS

Decision-making is a basic process in social work and inclusive education. Professionals decide how to approach their clients and how a specific case is treated. Social workers have a significant freedom in performing their work. This freedom can be discussed in terms of professional discretion (dt. Ermessen). Social legislation and professional knowledge are important points of reference. Lipsky has described social workers among other professionals as street-level bureaucrats carrying out social policy at the frontline.

The Seminar will discuss in how far discretion is necessary for social work and how its use effects practice.

Lecturer: Michael Rölver, M.Sc.
Credits: 3 ECTS

Focusing on the past of his own family, in his study ‚Not in My Family. German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust‘ Canadian psychologist and philosopher Roger Frie elaborates on the long-term consequences of National Socialism in regard to individual psyche, intrafamily relations and politics and society more in general. In doing so he is getting rather personal which makes his study a not only interesting but also intense and lively reading.

Central to his exploration is an understanding of two different ways of knowing about the past: learned and lived history.

See the following quote: „I suggest that in contrast to learned history, lived history tends to be ‚felt‘ rather than ‚known‘. Lived history refers to the direct experience of an event through the emotions and the body or the indirect experience of that event through inherited memories and the experience of one’s elders. Long after the Second World War, descendants of Holocaust survivors are affected by traumas they did not experience themselves, in a process referred to as the ‚transgenerational transmission of trauma‘. Descendants of German perpetrators and
bystanders often grow up with family histories that evade the Nazi past. In each case, family narratives provide an emotional link to a lived history that is mediated and encoded. Any suggestion that the past might be concluded neglects the nature of inherited memory and the lived history of trauma.” (Frie 2017, 12)

As one of the conclusions he is drawing from his study, Frie states a gap between the two ways of knowing about the past: While Germans nowadays know a lot about National Socialism in terms of learned history, we do not now much in terms of lived history. As a consequence, he himself experiences German Erinnerungskultur as somehow empty - lacking lived history.

In this class we are going to read his study and make up our minds about Frie’s findings.

Language of communication: We try to express ourselves in English (but can also use German if necessary and helpful).


  • Frie, Roger (2017): Not in My Family. German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust. New York: Oxford University Press.
    (In German language the study was published in 2021 as ‚Nicht in meiner Familie. Deutsches Erinnern und die Verantwortung nach dem Holocaust‘ (Frankfurt a.M.: Brandes & Apsel).

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jochen Bonz
Credits: 3 ECTS

International students participating in an international exchange program at katho in the summer semester of 2022 will experience professional guidance and reflection on social work practice. They will be supported to reflect on their experiences during their stay in Germany and have the opportunity to compare differences and similarities to the situation in their home countries. The seminar is part of the English-language curriculum "Social Work and Exclusion".

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Martina Meyer-Schwickerath
Credits: 3 ECTS

One goal of social workers is to understand social problems and to develop solutions to deal with and minimize them. Thereby social workers have to consider the complexity of social problems - from the everyday experiences of addressees to institutional characteristics and structural features. In order to understand country-specific characteristics of social problems, an international perspective is helpful. An international perspective helps to better understand that social problems have socio-cultural characteristics and are shaped by them, which lead to different manifestations of social problems in different countries. The seminar addresses this issue. The aim is to make the complexity of social problems clear and to create awareness of the fact that social problems in each country bring with them specific possibilities and challenges for the professionals of social work.

All students will work together in small groups during the course of the seminar, thereby considering one social problem, such as poverty, homelessness or violence. The students will read and discuss literature on social problems, they will do a community walk at places where the social problem is evident, they will be in contact with addressees and practitioners, and they will get to know the help system responding to the social problem in Germany.

It is the aim of the seminar that the students from abroad and katho work together continuously and present and discuss their results with each other.

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Grit Höppner
Credits: 3 ECTS

Language Requirements

The language of conduction of the “Social Work and Exclusion” programme is English. A good knowledge of English is therefore essential. Each international student applicant must master the English language sufficiently well to be able to understand lectures and to be able to work with English academic texts. The applicants must proof English language skills with an English language certificate of B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). 


The nomination deadline is each year on September the 30th., via email to: incoming(at)katho-nrw.de 

Please contact our team for more detailed information on the application process. 

Group photo Cologne 2024
Excursion to Berlin 2024
Group photo Muenster 2023
Gruppenbild der internationalen Studierenden mit Mitarbeiter_innen des international Office vor dem Brandenburger Tor. Excursion to Berlin, 2022


Scientific coordination
Prof. Dr. Jochen Bonz

Scientific coordination

Prof. Dr. Jochen Bonz


Münster, Sozialwesen

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Wen

Prof. Dr. Sebastian Wen

Professor für Soziologie

Köln, Sozialwesen

Franziska Sawitzki

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin, Internationalisierung

Köln, Sozialwesen

Counselling/Student services
Katrin Verhorst

Counselling/student service

Katrin Verhorst

Mitarbeiterin International Office, Abteilungen Münster und Paderborn

Paderborn, Sozialwesen, Dezernat VI - Akademische Angelegenheiten

Matthias Kaufmann

Matthias Kaufmann

Mitarbeiter International Office, Abteilungen Aachen und Köln

Köln, Dezernat VI - Akademische Angelegenheiten

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