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Timeline :: Senatus Academicus convenes conference on social work training

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23 March: A conference was convened by the Senatus Academicus to look into the setting up of a social work school, to be called the Edinburgh School of Social Study and Training. A draft constitution was developed (later approved on 5 June) and a provisional committee was formed, convened by Sir Richard Lodge, Professor of History from 1899 to 1925. Lodge was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and a founder of the Edinburgh University Settlement.

The committee members represented a great many different disciplines and backgrounds, with Professors Alexander Darroch* (Education), Joseph Shield Nicholson** (Economics), James Seth** (Moral Philosophy) and Rev Professors Martin and William Paterson (Divinity) and Alex Morgan (then Principal of the Church of Scotland Training College). Others included Miss Ethel de la Cour, the first Principal of the Edinburgh School of Domestic Science (formerly the Edinburgh School of Cookery, first founded in 1875); Councillor Young and George Freeland Barbour, Liberal politician and philanthropist who had earlier been Joint Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Temperance Legislation Board for 10 years. Mrs Euphemia Gilchrist Somerville, who had organised voluntary health visitors for the city council since 1908 (called the Edinburgh Voluntary Health Workers Association), was co-opted onto the committee. She went on to become a founder member of the Edinburgh Women Citizens’ Association (EWCA) and a local (independent) councillor and to sit on the Edinburgh council’s Education and Health committees.

* Darroch unusually held a joint appointment – he was the Bell Chair of Education at Edinburgh University until his untimely death in 1924. He also acted as Director of Studies at Moray House College of Education. His replacement, Professor Godfrey Thomson, held the joint post until 1951, when the two roles were again separated. (Source: Moray House School of Education website.)

** Both Nicholson and Seth had been Honorary Presidents of the newly formed Edinburgh School for Promoting the Study of Ethical, Social and Economic Subjects (later known simply as the School of Sociology). This school had been set up by Patrick Geddes and Victor Banford in order to put pressure on the university to recognise social science. Geddes believed in social action and social theory coming together; he did up and rented out flats in the Old Town, using them for students, on Octavia Hill/Hull House lines. He also ran extension education classes for local people from his base in Outlook Tower, on Castle Hill (see Scott and Bronley, 2013).