Social Europe Days

About Us

VSED – A True European Collaboration by 20 Lecturers from 10 Different European Universities

How it all started – a bit of history of the Social Europe Days (SED) network


As participants on a Social Work conference in Lodz (Poland 2001) Theo Koning and Jan Van Passel, two young men at the time, got to know each other. The cooperation between their two universities started with the first Social Europe Days in 2001 (SED). With the coming of Ute Kötter, enthusiastic social law lecturer from Cologne UAS, WAF (which means We Are Family) started a fruitful international family with 13 members from which some left the house (Riga, Lisbon, Vienna, Cologne and Tallinn) with love whereas the other members stayed with love at home (Leuven, Munich, Zurich, Hasselt, Bremen, Malaga, Malta and Groningen) even without being locked down before the crisis until now (and new members like Sibiu joining and helping in times of crisis, under the lead of Radu Popa!).

As the years went by the concept of the SED proved to be good basis for a strong and growing network, oriented towards both social work and HRM. The soul of the SED is about building bridges between people and regions, starting with youngsters. Key issues remain social welfare, social justice and international solidarity next to decent work and sustainable HRM.

The founders together with all engaged lecturers and students are touched and proud to see that SED even after 20 years is not stopped in spite of the heavy storm that has the name of what used to be a marvelous Mexican beer and they feel strengthened by all the friends from all these international years. Jan esp. in Latin America and Asia (International Cooperation North South) and Theo as a guest lecturer in for instance Bremen University of Applied Sciences (2000-2001) and for the marvelous University of Malta (2018-2019).

They especially thank all the wonderful colleagues that tackled the challenge to transform the SED into an entire online format, Virtual Social Europe Days (VSED)! In 2020, our thanks go especially to the A-Team, Patricia Arnold and Anna Borg together with Maria-Luisa Gomez Jimenez, Radu Popa, Anne Schillig, and Christiane Trüe). In 2021, VSED 2021 is a collaborative effort of all the creative organizers listed below. In addition, we are grateful for having Manuela Freudenberg-Liheouel on board who provides quick and efficient support as regards the educational technologies we are using. 

A lot of challenges are lying ahead of us. Dreams for the future are about peace & sustainable development, but most of all about the future for the next generations. It is up to them to face these challenges. Our wish is a clear choice for building bridges of solidarity with respect for people, planet and profit. Continuing to inspire young people was more of a political choice for engagement than a professional assignment for the founders of SED. Together we keep our fingers crossed for a bright future of this WAF network. And let’s hope we can and will celebrate an on-site Social Europe Days in 2022.

Jan van Passel and Theo Koning. 1April 2021

Organizing committee


Jan Van Passel. He is program director of the advanced bachelor ‘International Cooperation North-South’ and lecturer legal aid and social policy.  As a social worker (bachelor UCLL 1979) he was engaged for 18 years  within the Belgian trade union movement, the ACV, with a focus on labour market, social policy and social justice. He was founder of In-Z. This NGO was pioneer in Flanders on the domain of neighbourhood and proximity services. Today In-Z employs 1300 people, mainly persons with a greater distance to the labour market. Jan Van Passel is also president of the local services economy in Flanders

Theo Koning in one sentence only: born in 1955 in the Netherlands he studied Bachelor in Social Work and Master in Social Economic History at Groningen State University, where he now works as a senior lecturer at Hanze University since 1991 combining his work with being  an  international coordinator and being together with his partner Alma Veldman for almost 48 years he makes long distance cycling tours, meeting new people and  learn new languages taking pictures and writing poems, swimming  and drinking Belgian beer mostly afterwards, especially De Koninck from  Antwerp (his nickname) on which he once stated “In the land of the blind, Theo is de Koninck “, just as a joke.

Ute Kötter is professor for law of social work, social security law at Munich University of Applied Sciences. She received her PhD from Ludwig-Maximilian-University, Munich, and worked, amongst other places, at the Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Social Security Law, Munich, at the Law Faculty of the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and the University of Bremen (Hanze Law School). Her area of specialisation is German and European social security law with a focus on social minimum benefits/social assistance.



Andreana Dibben is a lecturer with the Departmenf of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Malta.  She is a social worker by profession and received her PhD in Social Policy from the University of Bristol, exploring teenage pregnancy and motherhood.  She is also the Chairperson of an NGO, Women's Rights Foundation. Her research and activism centre on sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence against women and experiences of motherhood

Annet Reidinga is a lecturer and coach at the school of Human Resource Management of Hanze University of applied sciences Groningen. After a bachelor in business economics, she did a master in coaching. Her area of specialisation is studentcoaching (personal and professional development), recruitment and selection.

Bram Roosens obtained his Master’s degree in social work and social policy at the Catholic University of Louvain In 2009. After his studies he worked as a researcher for the Centre of Sociological Research (CeSO-KULeuven) and the Research Institute for Work and Society (HIVA-KULeuven), where he carried out policy-oriented research on quality of labour and labour market policies. Bram was involved as a social worker in a Work Integration Social Enterprise for several years. He is currently working as a lecturer and researcher at University College Leuven-Limburg, where he is responsible for the specialization ‘Social policy and legal aid’. 

Christian Strobel, PhD is professor for applied psychology and digitalization at the university for applied sciences Munich. He is a psychologist and pedagogue by profession and received his PhD in Psychology: Learning Sciences from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich with an emphasis on digital training technologies in clinical care. He has working experience in science, business consulting, health care and counseling and is also a trained and actively working clinical psychologist and psychotherapist for adults and children.

Christiane Trüe, LL.M. (East Anglia), is Professor for Public Law, in particular administrative and constitutional law, including European Union law, at the City University of Applied Sciences in Bremen. She is also the Course Director of the Master in European Studies programme at the university’s International Graduate Center. She has published monographs and articles in the areas of her denomination, as well as in international, EU, German and Chinese environmental and energy law. Her professional experience includes the civil service of one of the federal states in Germany as well as practising as an advocate, her academic experience scholarly work at the Universities of Marburg and Göttingen in Germany and work as a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lecturer at an English University (East Anglia).

Francisco Alberto Vallejo Peña, PhD. in Sociology (University of Granada, 2003) and Postgraduate in Market Research (Cepade, Univ. Politécnica de Madrid, 1997). He has been working on several Sociology fields: organisations culture, sociology of work and cross culture at work. Currenty teaching at University of Malaga (2005-2020). On the other hand, he has been participating in some international projects and seminars (University of Nuremberg, Germany; 2005-2006 and University Abdelmalek Esssadi, Morocco; 2007-2008). 

Jeannet Davids is a teacher at Hanzehogeschool Groningen, HRM. She is a teacher, researcher and has some coordinating tasks in the field of new students and, from September 2020, internationalization. Jeannet teaches mainly in oral and writing skills and in research skills.

Maria Luisa Gómez Jiménez is Phd, tenured professor of Administrative Law at Malaga University. She is member of the Sustainable Research Group and Directs the Research Group on Sustainable Housing. Founder of the indexed journal WPS-RISHUR, on Urban Sustainability and Urban regeneration and Director of the Publishing collection on Latin American Studies, She performs also as Assistant Director of the Research Institute of Biotechnology and Blue Economy at Malaga University, while being member of the Research Institute of Smart homes and Energy efficiency. Her research activities focusses on the areas of: Land Use Law, Housing, Smart homes,  Smart cities, Urban Sustainability, Environmental Issues and e- health and Social Services. More details:

Patricia Arnold is associate Professor of Socio-informatics at Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences, Germany and Vice-Dean of the Department of Applied Social Sciences. She received a PhD in educational sciences form Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany, after having worked for several years in adult education and IT-training. Her research and development work focuses on facilitating learning communities with technologies (

Patrick Ogbonna Akachukwu is a Master in European Studies Candidate at the  International Graduate Center, Bremen  University of Applied Sciences, Germany, where he also currently works as a student assistant to the Professorship for Public Law, in particular administrative law and constitutional law, Prof. Dr. Christiane Trüe. In his Master’s degree, he is focusing on European Law and Governance. He is a licensed attorney in Nigeria. Prior to the commencement of his Master’s degree, he practised both as a Solicitor and a Barrister for more than 8 years in his Native Nigeria.

Reeli Sirotkina is a lecturer of social work and social policy in Tallinn University. Her work experience in academia is 20 years. Her main courses are “Introduction to social work”, “Social work theory and methods”, “Care management” and “Social work in ageing society”. She has worked in the Ministry of Social Affairs as a coordinator for policy of ageing. She is interested in social work profession and social work gerontology. Currently she is one of the developers of Men’s Shed in Estonia.

Radu-Ioan Popa is a senior Lecturer at “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, Romania. With a PhD in Psychology, he works also as an organizational and work psychologist. His main research interests focus on the human resources management, employee training and human-artificial intelligence interactions. He is an honorary fellow of Munich University of Applied Sciences, a researcher in the Centre for Social Research and INCON - Connected Intelligence Research Center. More to be found on his website

Guest lectures:

Liga Peiseniece, Dr. is Vice rector for Academic Affairs at BA School of Business and Finance, Latvia. Liga is also an associate professor and gives lectures on Human Resource Management and Innovation management for more than 10 years. She  has valuable expertise gained from working in international projects and workshops relating to Human Resources Management. She is also working actively as a researcher in the association CRANET that unites members from more than 40 countries dealing with Human Resources Management.