Nordic College of Caring Science & The European Academy of Caring Science Conference

I too was a delegate of the recent Nordic College of Caring Science & The European Academy of Caring Science Conference (19th – 20th March 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark), ‘Exploring Care for human service professions’ (see Research Blog 20/4/15).  I have been reflecting on the experience.

Colleagues Associate Professor Clara Aarts (from Uppsala University Sweden), Dr Ann Hemingway (from FHSS) and I, jointly presented a paper entitled ‘A Lifeworld Led Model for Public Health’. In our paper we specifically considered the use of a lifeworld led approach to the reduction of health inequalities. The Lifeworld is about the meanings of everyday life and what it is like to exist as a human being. Our piece was related to practice underpinned by philosophy. It was one of a plethora about Caring Science and human dignity and integrity as a focus for health and well-being.

After the conference it occurred to me that this particular forum had been like no other I had experienced. On reflection I think this was because we not only ‘talked the talk’ of Caring Science philosophy within our papers, we ‘walked the walk’ of Caring Science during the time of the conference. This ‘walking the walk’ was evident at different levels – the interpersonal and contextual. At an interpersonal level the atmosphere during presentations (or certainly the ones I experienced) was in-keeping with the philosophical basis of caring science – it felt ‘safe’, respectful and supportive. It encouraged discussion and sharing of ideas and learning from each other and together. It demonstrated that academic rigor does not need to come at the cost of these qualities (this has not always been the impression I have gained elsewhere).  I was also acutely aware of the supportive nature of colleagues at the conference – those from FHSS I travelled with, those I presented with, those we presented to and others who I met during lulls in conference activity (I think I am supposed to call that ‘networking’). As conference participants we were also ‘walking the walk’ of Caring Science given the venue and its philanthropic/caring roots and philosophy (the venue was Diakonissestiftelsen, Copenhagen, Denmark).

The BU contingent of delegates are all members of the European Academy of Caring Science and this was the first joint conference with the Nordic College of

Caring Science. During the final keynote speech Professor Emerita Elisabeth Hall offered her view of the meaning of caring science for human service and human health. She alluded to the notion of ‘caring feel’ or ‘tone’ that a caring context can illicit when we have ‘got it right’. The audience noted that the ‘tone’ of the conference venue itself had been in-keeping with caring science given its historical, spiritual, philanthropic and caring context. There was agreement that we should continue with joint European Academy of Caring Science and Nordic College of Caring Science ventures in the future given the positive experiences and discussions we had shared. We were asked to ponder what links the two organisations given their differing geographical coverage and potential perspectives. At the risk of stating the obvious I think it is care that links them, not only in word but also action.  

Liz Norton