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20 Years of MSW – Simon Hackett

As we celebrate 20 years of the Master of Social Work (MSW), let’s meet Simon Hackett, Director of Research in the MSW Programme, in Durham University’s Department of Sociology.

Please tell us about your role within Sociology/MSW.  

I am Director of Research in the Sociology Department and a long-standing member of the MSW team. I teach across the programme but am currently module convenor for the Research in Social Work module.  

What is your research specialism / areas of interest? 

My research relates to children and child wellbeing, specifically trying to understand, prevent, and respond to child abuse in its various forms. I am best known for my work in the child sexual abuse field and in particular the issue of harmful sexual behaviour presented by children and young people.  

How did you become involved with MSW? 

I am the longest serving member of the social work academic team, having joined the department initially in 1999. I was part of the team that developed the MSW programme 20 years ago.  

Why are you so passionate about Social Work and the work your department does? 

It’s been a privilege to work with lots of students over the 20 years of the MSW and to follow their careers. I am passionate about social work’s potential to change lives.  

How does your work impact communities / the world around you? 

My research has been adopted across the world and, so I am told, has made a real difference to practitioners working in the field of harmful sexual behaviour. It’s humbling and rewarding to hear that academic research makes a difference in this way.  

What’s been your proudest moment working on the MSW? 

To see students’ progress and to be part of their journeys towards being professionally qualified practitioners.  

What would you say to something thinking about working in Social Work? 

It’s demanding but hugely rewarding profession. 

How has your subject changed in the last 20 years? Or have the key fundamentals stayed the same? 

There have been huge developments in understanding about child abuse and neglect over the last 20 years and Durham and the MSW has been an inspiring background to my learning and work in this regard.  

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