Social Europe Days – A True European Collaboration by 20 Lecturers from 10 Different European Universities

“Social Europe Days  - We and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”  

After two editions of “Social Europe Days” entirely online, 2020 and 2021, we are back to an on-site version in Berlin, as a blended & hybrid learning offer. The updated topical focus is the “Sustainable Development Goals".  


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


Our Social Europe Days collaboration has a long history. It was started in 2001 by Jan Van Passel, University College Leuven-Limburg, Belgium and Theo Koning Hanze University Groningen, The Netherlands. One year later Ute Kötter, HM Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences, Germany (at that time at Technical University Cologne, Germany) joined Jan and Theo and a great collaboration for years to come was about to start, with yearly editions of “Social Europe Days” in La Foresta, Vaalbek, Belgium, close to Leuven and to Brussels, Belgium! Each year about 100-140 students participated and about 20 lecturers.

In 2020 and 2021, our great collaboration Social Europe Days had to face the challenge of the pandemics – and what had seemed impossible up to then, was realized twice in a row: Virtual Social Europe Days 2020 and Virtual Social Europe Days 2021! Each time 100-140 students and about 20 lecturers joined and created together valuable insights collaborating entirely online!

In 2022, we received the sad news that our traditional venue, “La Foresta” in Vaalbek, had not survived the crisis, so again we faced a challenge of finding a new location at short notice, still with a lot of insecurity due to the pandemic. So again, we were doing pioneers’ work with a new and entirely different venue in Berlin, Germany, and having a blended and hybrid learning format so that students who cannot join us in person in Berlin, can remotely join our seminar.  Jeannet Davids, Hanze University Groningen, The Netherlands and Patricia Arnold, HM Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences, Germany co-ordinated the development of the new concept with the joint excursion to Berlin, Germany. It worked successfully in 2022 and now for 2023’s edition, we could fine-tune our new concept and included an earth4all debate ( 

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.


International Social Europe Days Team

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

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).

Damian Spiteri is a lecturer in social work and social policy at the University of Malta. He has delivered lectures on different aspects of social conscientization in Malta, the UK (where he used to lecture at the University of York and the University of Strathclyde), and other parts of Europe, the US, at the UAE and China. He is the author of several published articles in edited journals and has authored a book on Multicultural Education which was published by Palgrave Macmillan. He is an enthusiastic speaker and some of his lectures have been uploaded to YouTube. He is also a singer songwriter and his most recently published song is Come Back To Me. It is accessible on YouTube.

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.

Johan Vandersmissen is an HR-lecturer at the Department PXL-Social Work of Hogeschool PXL, Hasselt, Belgium. He received his Master Commercial Engineer at University Hasselt and a Master International Commerce at University Mons-Hainaut. Johan is also the course director of the postgraduates ‘HR for SME’ and ‘Mental well-being at the workfloor’. He is chairman of the Flemish Inter-school Consultation Forum Human Resources. His specialities are ‘Recruitment and selection’ and ‘Mental Wellbeing on the workfloor and in the classroom.

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:

Meret Reiser holds a Master in Sciences of Society of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. She has worked during several years in different NGOs in Switzerland and Colombia, before joining the ZHAW Social Work as Research Associate. Her main interests are sustainability, digital transformation in social work, international and intercultural collaboration, innovation and organizational development.

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 (

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