Social Europe Days

About Us

VSED 2020 – 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 two beloved women Dr Patricia Arnold and Dr Anna Borg together with their magnificent A-team (Dr. Maria-Luisa Gomez Jimenez, Dr. Radu Popa, Dr. Anne Schillig, and Dr. Christiane Trüe) and support of Manuela Freudenberg-Liheouel for making us all experience these first Virtual Social Europe Days.

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’s 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 our face to face Social Europe Days in May 2021.

Jan van Passel and Theo Koning. 1 May 2020

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 (65) 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.

Anna Borg is the Director of the Centre for Labour Studies at the University of Malta and she coordinates the Bachelor Degree Course  in Work and HR. She received her PhD from Middlesex University in the UK.  Her area of specialization is gender equality and the labor market.  Her research focuses on work-life issues and social policy issues,  amongst other (

Anne Schillig is a research associate at the school of social work of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland. She received a PhD in History from University of Lucerne. She is currently engaged as the International Coordinator in the Centre for Social Work Studies and focuses on internationalisation of social work study programs.

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’. 

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).

Esther Bussmann is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Practical Training Programme BSc at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, School of Social Work. Her areas of specialisation are (besides the Practical Training within the Studies of Social Work) the international and interprofessional collaboration and education.

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). 

Friedrich Lehmann, Professor emeritus (since 2009) of Constitutional Law, European Law and Public Law, University of Applied Sciences Bremen. Friedrich was the director of the “Master in European Studies” program 1999-2015, from 2000-2008 he was Vice Rector for International Affairs and Culture and from 1989- 1999 Dean of the Department of “General Administration”. He studied legal studies in Göttingen and Munich from 1966-1970.

Godfrey Baldacchino is Professor of Sociology and Currently Pro-Rector for International Development and Quality Assurance at the University of Malta, in Malta. He spent 10 years as a Canada Research Chair in Island Studies and 4 years as UNESCO co-Chair in Island Studies & Sustainability, both at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. His research interests include islands and small state studies, and he considers himself a generalist.

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.

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.

Mª 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 Munich 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 (

Peter Schebb is a senior lecture at the City University of Applied Sciences Bremen - HSB. Studied social work and education (Hanover), adult education (University of Bremen) and law and economics (FernUniversität Hagen). Current teaching position in national business law and general administrative law, long-term support of the Social Europe Days.

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

Rudi Reynaert is a master in sociology and now retired. He worked in the Christian union ACV. From 2003 to 2016, he was a part-time guest lecturer at University College Leuven-Limburg(UCLL) Heverlee, Belgium, specialized in social policy and social work.