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Professions in transformation

How can we understand knowledge development in times of change? This is something that Jonas Christensen, a new doctor of philosophy in education at Malmö University in Sweden, analyzes in A profession in change - a development ecology perspective.

Jonas Christensen, who works in the field of health and society, is interested in organization, leadership, and operational development with a special focus on welfare organizations.

In his dissertation work, Jonas Christensen used a model from Development Ecology.

"The model is based on the individual and his/her encounters with various levels of society. This can involve the interplay of the individual with the family, organization, and society and can be used to understand the development of knowledge and scope for action in times of change," he explains.

Christensen studied two cases. In the first one, he analyzed what happened when university teachers in Lithuania were faced with the task of teaching business studies, a subject that was previously non-existent at universities in Lithuania, a part of the former Soviet Union.

"It's all about the encounter between new and old systems and patterns of thinking," says Christensen.

In the second case, he studied social work and social workers in three German cities. Unlike their Swedish counterparts, German social workers are primarily employed by one of the six welfare associations, with ties to labor unions and the church, for instance.

"In my study I looked closely at social workers and other players in terms of various aspects of change, such as the move to make the subject of social work more academic."

Christensen found that a modified development ecology model can help us understand the development of professions. The model can also be used in other contexts, such as various operations, where it focuses on the encounters themselves.

"I've also seen that the individual's scope for action and freedom is conditioned by the frameworks and organization of society. It's also clear that entrepreneurship and knowledge acquisition go together," says Christensen.

In his research he now wants to go on to address issues of welfare development with a focus on professions and organizations.

For further information please contact Jonas Christensen, phone: +46-40 665 7406, e-mail: jonas.christensen@mah.se

Pressofficer Charlotte Löndahl Bechmann; +46-40 665 7879; Charlotte.Londahl.Bechmann@mah.se

idw :: 22.12.2010

Würzburg GSLS - Graduate School
The Graduate School of Life Sciences is an inter-departmental graduate school in the life sciences funded by the German Excellence Initiative since 2006.

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