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Tradition and modernity: ASH Berlin

The Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, looks back over a long tradition: in 2008 it celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. The history of ASH Berlin is closely bound up with both the development of modern social work and the life’s work of Alice Salomon.


Its roots stretch back into the 19th century, when systematic training in social work was first established in Germany. In 1908, Alice Salomon (1872–1948) founded the “Social School for Women” [Soziale Frauenschule] in Berlin-Schöneberg, whose two-year, interdenominational programme became a model for the establishment of other schools and greatly influenced the development of social work in Germany. Already in its early years, the school attached great importance to interdisciplinarity, close linkages between theory and practice and an international orientation – principles that remain important at ASH Berlin today.

In 1933, with the start of the Nazi dictatorship, the Social School for Women dismissed its Jewish members and abandoned its emancipatory orientation and focus on social justice. Alice Salomon was expelled from Germany in 1937. After liberation from the Nazi dictatorship, the school was able to take up its work once again in June of 1945, drawing on its training programme from the 1920s and looking to democratic American models for guidance.

In connection with the educational reforms of the late 1960s, ASH Berlin was expanded in 1971 into the “University of Applied Sciences for Social Work and Social Pedagogy” [Fachhochschule für Sozialarbeit und Sozialpädagogik], a transformation that involved its integration of the Catholic “Helene Weber Academy” [Helene-Weber-Akademie] and the “Workers’ Welfare Seminar” [Seminar der Arbeiterwohlfahrt]. The University of Applied Sciences has born the name of Alice Salomon since 1991. Within the context of the development of new training concepts and structures, a second programme of study, “Health and Social Care Management”, was set up in 1994. In 1999, the first masters programme, “Intercultural Conflict Management”, was created. The first bachelors programmes followed in 2004: “Early Childhood Education" and “Physiotherapy/Occupational Therapy”. ASH Berlin took on a pioneering role in Germany through its introduction of these programmes and the associated establishment of those professional fields as academic disciplines. In 1998, ASH Berlin relocated to a newly constructed building in Berlin’s Hellersdorf district. With that move to a district in eastern Berlin, a new aspect of the formerly divided city’s history was absorbed into the institution’s biography. The year 2001 saw the opening of the Alice Salomon Archives in the institution’s historical rooms in Schöneberg and the grant of the first “Alice Salomon Award”. The award, presented every two years, honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution towards the emancipation of women and the development of social work and who are continuing the work of Alice Salomon under the conditions of the present day.

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