• The authors:
    Irina E. Petrova
  • Issue: July 24-26th, 2019
  • Pages: 66-71
  • URL:
  • DOI:

Abstract. Higher education in modern Russia is becoming a space of
contact between secular and religious worldviews. The secular nature of
education at a classical university does not diminish the opportunity to
discuss religious processes and to have one’s own point of view about them,
both for the teacher and the student.
This research presents an analysis of the case study of the development and
implementation of the course “Religious Social Work” in the framework of
“Social Work” (Bachelor’s degree) at the Lobachevsky National Research
State University of Nizhny Novgorod in the period from 2009 to 2019.
During the period from 1991 to the present day the social work of religious
organizations has passed a huge way of development in our country, from
the beginnings of social service to professional activity, performance of the
state order to provide social services to the population.
At the same time, the analysis of curricula and training materials of various
Russian universities shows that this phenomenon, which is new for the
country, is not yet fully reflected in the educational process at different
levels of secondary and higher education. Cases of inclusion of such subject
in the educational program are rare and, as a rule, it is possible for
confessional-oriented universities or universities that have the right to
develop educational standards (including federal and national research
The author’s course “Religious Social Work” was developed in 2009, and
for 10 years now I have been conducting it as part of the preparation of
Bachelors of Social Work for students of 3d year study. During this time,
more than 200 students have attended the course (mandatory), more than
80% of them women. The course is designed in the form of research to
answer the question- is the social activity of religious organizations in the
provision of social services professional social work? We use different
theoretical approaches and define the professional component of such work
in different practical cases.
Throughout this period, from 2009 to the present, as part of the course, I
have followed all the trends in the development of the professional social
DOI: 10.22363/09669-2019-66-71
work of religious organizations in Russia and around the world, including
an analysis of emerging new regulations, practices, and opportunities for
cooperation with government agencies and secular social institutions. At the
same time, these 10 years have been the period of a series of sociological
studies aimed at studying the phenomenon of confessional social work and
the attitudes of secular social work specialists, the academic community, the
general public and students.
As a result of the research, the following complex should be presented: a
questionnaire survey of the population of Nizhny Novgorod on expectations
from social services of religious organizations (2013-14, N = 1992); (quasi)
an expert survey of social work specialists of public and budgetary social
service institutions of Nizhny Novgorod and the Nizhny Novgorod region
(2016, N = 53; a semi-structured interview, the average duration of which is
about 1 hour); included monitoring of the teaching process and an annual
survey of students on the value of the course; analysis of scientific materials
on the topic (2008-2019).
The results of the study indicate positive expectations of the population of
Nizhny Novgorod from social services provided by religious organizations
(assuming that they are better suited to the most difficult life situations –
palliative care, alcoholism and drug addiction, rehabilitation of prisoners, as
well as confessional specialists and the services themselves give soul and
spirituality). Secular specialists from social service institutions talk about
the need for knowledge and skills to work with faith-based clients who
require religious sensitization.
Keywords: Religion, religious social work, sociological research,
discipline, higher education

Irina E. Petrova
Lobachevsky National Research State University of Nizhny Novgorod,
Nizhny Novgorod, e-mail:
ORCID ID: 0000-0001-6969-132X

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