The Shifting Landscape of International Practicum in Social Work Education

Wasif Ali, Julie L. Drolet, Kamal Khatiwada, Emmanuel Chilanga, Mohammed Nurudeen Musah


International practicum, or international field placements, create opportunities for social work students to address global social challenges in an international setting and prepare for social work practice. The landscape of international practica in social work has evolved and shifted over the last two decades. This article reports on the findings of a literature review that was conducted to understand how international practicum has changed over time. The study established search criteria that led to the inclusion of 70 publications, 16 in the first decade (2000 to 2010) and 54 in the second decade (2011 to 2020) utilizing the web of Science and Social Work Abstracts, as well as specific searches conducted on the University of Calgary Library Database, EBSCO host, ProQuest, and Google Scholar. The results of the literature review show that there were fewer publications in the first decade and the emphasis was on understanding international practicum and field models. During the second decade, the published literature on international practicum tripled, focusing predominantly on developing new field education models, engaging in critical reflection and theory, and how to create successful field placements for students through preparation, teaching, and discussion. International practicum opportunities are critical to fostering transformative learning in social work students, and post-secondary institutions will need to re-establish international field education programs after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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