The Institute of Social Welfare and Research (ISWR) is one of the prominent teaching and research institutes in the University of Dhaka. The main focus of this institute is to provide higher education (BSS Honours, Masters, MPhil and PhD) on social welfare with a number of specialized areas, and conduct research on different aspects on social sciences. This discipline conceives major aspects in social sciences. Due to its wide application in different fields in social sciences, this is called the applied social sciences that does not only attempt to assess the socio-economic and psychological conditions of the lives and livelihoods of human being rather it has a number of theories, approaches, models, and strategies that are directly applied to solve those problems. This is true that the social welfare concept took a new direction in the nineteenth century, through certain processes and not by an accident. This was an era of social and technological change with intellectual adventure. The traditional concept of social service or charity with immediate assistance did not stand in the test of the changing time. It melted away before the challenge of emerging psycho-social and economic problems hatched by speedy growth of population, rapid industrialization and urbanization. The modern concept is one where in belief in the dignity and potentiality of human, respect for his/her personality came in the fore. And ultimately the “Lady Bountiful” was replaced by the professional social worker to give solace and relief to the suffering humanity. With the ever-increasing socio-economic problems, coupled with the wide acceptance of the concept of welfare state, the scope of social work as a profession has widened and got a momentum. Moreover, as the history attests, substantial progress made by this profession in the shortest possible time, in the developed as well as the developing countries, has given it a firm footing and an assurance of smooth go-ahead.
ISWR originated in the backdrop of Indo-Partition in 1947 that caused a two-way influx of people migrating from India to erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh and vice-versa. Resettlement of these people particularly in the urban areas posed a potential threat to social reorganization along with the associated psycho-social maladjustments. In view of this situation in particular, the then Government asked the UN Technical Assistance as to how to cope up with the problem-situation, thus evolved and it was going to be intensified. The UN quickly responded to and sent a UN Expert Team. It readily planned for a short training program in greater Social Welfare Perspective for the social science graduates to act as social worker officially termed Social Organizer as to how to assist resettle the migrated people in participation of the local community people, including its power-structure. In the name of Urban Community Development (UCD) as a Pilot Project was first initiated at Kayettuli community in the old Dhaka and trained workers were involved under a Community Development Organizer supervised by the UN Team. With the success of the project it was extended in different parts of the Dhaka City and outside Dhaka gradually. This is how ‘Community Organization’ as a method of Social Welfare/Work appeared on the scene in the Social Welfare canvas.
Social work education is comparatively a new dimension in Bangladesh among other social science disciplines. The first social welfare study was started with an introductory course in social work of three months duration in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1953. The College of Social Welfare and Research Centre at Dhaka, the first of its kind in East Pakistan was founded in 1958 as a constituent college under the University of Dhaka. On February 9, 1973 the College was merged with the mainstream of academic programs of University of Dhaka and holds the name Institute of Social Welfare and Research (ISWR). Administratively the Institute is run by a Board of Governors (BG) chaired by the Vice-Chancellor under the Eighth statute of the Dhaka University Order 1973. The Director of the Institute is responsible for the overall management and supervision of the Institute. Academically and Administratively the Institute follows rules as envisaged in the statute of the University of Dhaka.
With the gradual process Social Welfare/Work as a practice and professional discipline has been evolved amidst the intimate conjunction of economics, political science, humanity, religiosity, sociology, social psychology, human biology and behavior sciences, social environment and like disciplines by outstretching its activity-wings like school social work, psychiatric social work, correction and development social work, clinical social work victimology and restorative justice, industrial and labour relations studies, and gerontology and geriatric welfare to deal with individual level problems of mal-adjustments.