• KSHB, Brain City Berlin, Dr Petra Mund

    Prof Dr Petra Mund, Katholische Hochschule für Sozialwesen Berlin (KHSB)

Before her doctorate, Brain City Ambassador Dr Petra Mund was a street worker. Today she is Professor of Social Work and Social Management at the Katholische Hochschule für Sozialwesen Berlin (KHSB). In her research she deals with questions of social work with a focus on children’s services. 

“Children’s services is a large and very multifaceted field in social work, covering everything from early childhood education, foster care, youth work, and tutoring services. Child protection is also another key task for children’s services. This variety of tasks raises a large number of scientific questions and this very attractive for me and my work,” Mund explains. In her research at the Katholische Hochschule für Sozialwesen Berlin (Catholic University of Applied Social Sciences, KSHB) the Brain City Ambassador deals with questions of social work and focuses particularly on children and adolescents. “Time and again I am asking how the offerings and services can be improved and expanded so ensure the implementation of the guiding norm of children’s services: the right of every young person to receive support in their development into an independent individual ready for life in society.”

Petra Mund came to Berlin for personal reasons when her partner moved from Bonn to the capital in 1999. Mund had previously studied social work in Cologne and then worked as a street worker in and around Bonn’s rail station. She initially stayed in Bonn to continue work on a project she had initiated. “I had the opportunity to implement the concept I had developed for an emergency shelter for homeless young people. As during my work in the field of street social work, I was also concerned with the question of why some young people can no longer be reached by conventional children’s services. I started looking for scientific answers to this question.” 

After three years of a long-distance relationship, Mund finally moved to Berlin in 2002. “It quickly became clear to me what professional and, in particular, research opportunities were open to me in Berlin. Not only are the children’s services here in Berlin much more diverse, the research landscape is also very broad.” She continued the part-time distance learning course in social management at ASH Berlin she had already started while in Bonn. ASH Berlin soon offered her an opportunity to start teaching. “In the first month, there was a posting for someone to teach methods of social work. This was ideal for me. I was able to gain important teaching experience and deepen my academic discussions on issues related to social work. I noticed quite quickly how much I enjoy teaching and working with students.”

Berlin is an open, colourful city where social ideas and innovations grow and flourish.  I am happy to contribute to this with my work.

By establishing contacts with other researchers in her field, Mund was able to begin her doctorate at the Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) immediately after completing her master’s degree at ASH Berlin. “I am sure that even with a master’s degree, this would not have been so easy in North Rhine-Westphalia.” 

She has been successful while remaining true to her goal of using the knowledge acquired during her studies to contribute to social change and strengthening her students in their praxis. “Street work, i.e. social work outreach, was an area of children’s services that really attracted me during my studies due to its direct work with young people. I am therefore very pleased that my research now allows me to make my own contribution to the design of children’s services offerings.”

Petra Mund advises young academics who want to start a research career in Berlin above all to be open to the many opportunities that are offered here. “For example, in the area of the SAGE disciplines (a German acronym for social work, healthcare, and early childhood education), Berlin has three state-run or state-funded universities offering a wide range of programmes: KHSB, ASH Berlin, and the Evangelische Hochschule Berlin (Protestant University of Applied Sciences Berlin, EHB).” According to Mund, this diversity should be used by young academics specifically to establish cooperation between practice and science as well as develop their own  teaching portfolios. (vdo)

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