The Department of Social Work (earlier known as the Delhi School of Social Work) has the distinction of being the first institution in Asia to offer a Master’s Degree in Social Work and draws students from different parts of India and Universities abroad for all its courses. The strength of the Department is its unwavering focus on social development specifically on the development of the marginalised communities- be it the minority communities, women, children, vulnerable and backward caste groups, elderly, persons with disability, persons affected by HIV/ AIDS, LGBT communities or those affected by disaster. The Department has been ranked number two in the list of institution of Social Work in India by Outlook magazine. It has been ranked number one in academic excellence and in placements of its students through campus recruitment.
The Department traces its origin to the establishment of the Y.W.C.A School of Social Work in 1946 at Lucknow. It was then known as the National YWCA School of Social Work. The school was shifted to Delhi in 1947 and on its affiliation to the University of Delhi in 1948; it came to be known as Delhi School of Social Work.
After becoming part of the University of Delhi in April, 1961, the Department started functioning as a Post-Graduate Institution affiliated to the University. It started its Doctoral programme (leading to PhD. degree) in Social Work in 1965 and in 1976 it introduced a Pre- Doctoral programme (leading to M.Phil. degree). In May 1979, it became a Post-Graduate Department affiliated to the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Delhi.
Beginning from the academic session 1994-95, the Department initiated Bachelor's Degree (Honours Course) in Social Work in two constituent colleges of the University of Delhi. In 2009, the Department introduced major changes in its curriculum and introduced semester system in the M.A (Social Work) programme. The curriculum adopted at the Department of Social Work has a strong focus on social development and within that on the marginalised and excluded communities. Fieldwork, which is the signature pedagogy of this course provides a scope to the students to integrate theory with practice thus ensuring the transfer of class room knowledge into practice. The research, both at doctoral level and at the level of M. Phil adds to the knowledge base of the profession as does the research taken by the faculty in their areas of expertise.
The Department of Social Work was granted the Department of Special Assistance status (DSA) by the University Grants Commission in 1992 and was also sanctioned assistance under the ASIHSS Programme. In 2013, in recognition of the Department’s contribution to higher academic research and research excellence, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had sanctioned the Department of social work, University of Delhi as a Center of Advanced Study (CAS) in Social Work.
The faculty of the Department is part of a range of initiatives. Besides undertaking regular research in their areas of expertise and publishing articles in national and international journals of repute, the faculty is part of the various tasks forces and advisory boards of the government and non- governmental institutions. The Department also collaborates with different Universities in India and abroad and inviting distinguished scholars from across the world.
The Department runs its field action programmes to demonstrate the relevance of social work interventions in dealing with social issues and problems and also to strengthen its theoretical foundation. Two of its field action projects namely; Centre for Child and Adolescent Well Being (CCAW) which was instituted in 1971 and Centre for Community Development and Action which was established in 1988 continue to provide a platform to engage with the challenges at the grass roots and are regularly being strengthened and expanded. For instance, Utthan, an extension wing of CCAW was established in August 2012, with the support of Lion Child Trust. Similarly, a Gender Resource Centre was granted by the Governing Council of Mission Convergence under the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi to the Centre for Community Development and Action in 2009, under the auspices of the DSSW Society.
The Department proactively responds to the challenges faced by the communities at the time of disasters; both natural and man-made. It undertook relief and rehabilitation action project for earthquake affected villages in Bhuj (Kutch) under the banner, University for Development Action and Integrated Learning (UDAI) during 2001-2002. It also executed an innovative action project UDAI –II in the flood affected villages of Bihar starting 2008. In 2008, NACO sanctioned the establishment of a State Training and Resource Centre at the Department.
The Department is presently coordinating the Community Development Cell of the University of Delhi. In accordance with the recommendations made by the Honorable President of India and the Honorable Minister of Human Resource Development during the Vice Chancellors' Conference held at Rashtrapati Bhawan in February, 2015, the MHRD directed all Central Universities to set up a Community Development Cell, which would identify at least five villages for adoption as model villages by the Universities. Consequently, the University of Delhi set up a Community Development Cell Committee, with Prof. Manoj K. Jha as the Convenor and Prof. Neera Agnimitra as the Member Secretary. The work of the Community Development Cell is being undertaken by the Department ever since its inception in five villages namely Badarpur Khadar, Chauhan Patti, Jagatpur, Mukundpur and Jharoda.