Fenton, Jane


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Research activity per year

Personal profile


I have worked at the University of Dundee since 2006, having spent most of my social work career in statutory Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) in Dundee. When I came to the university, I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to undertake a PhD focusing on social work values in CJSW as the expression of those values in CJSW had concerned me for some time. During my PhD study, I made an unexpected finding that younger workers were more accepting of managerial and neoliberal restrictions on value-expression than their older colleagues, and this led me to further research and study into students' interface and relationship with neoliberal hegemony.

More recently, I have been interested in reclaiming liberal values in higher education, issues of free speech, debate and enquiry and the promotion of viewpoint diversity. I am currently exploring and writing about those topics. 

As well as those research/scholarship interests, I am Head of Taught Post-graduate Programmes for the school  and serve on various committees and working groups. I have an absolute affinity with our aspirations to deliver excellent teaching and learning in the school and enjoy contributing to that aim to the best of my ability.



My teaching interests link to my research and scholarship areas, namely: ethics and values; neoliberalism; and risk and decision-making. I am passionate about teaching and am consistently told this comes across in my lectures and seminars. I am very glad about that because social work is worth being passionate about! 

Research interests

As above, my research interests have developed from an interest in 'ethical -stress' (when values cannot be realised in practice) to an interest in younger workers and students' engagement with, and critique of, neoliberal hegemony. Reflecting this current interest, I published my first sole-authored book in 2016 entitled; 'Values in social work: reconnecting with social justice.' This was aimed at students and was written as an accessible text to help students understand neoliberalism and its anithetical position to social work values. I have since written a second sole-authored book (published in March 2019) called; 'Social work for lazy radicals: relationships, critical thinking and courage in practice.' This is a more advanced text, but, again, is intended for students who want to practice in a value-based way with the people who use social work services. I have also published a range of papers and chapters which further reflect my journey and the changing landscape of my scholarly activity. As stated earlier, more recent developments in my thinking have led to a profound interest in the worth of universal liberal values and the encouragement of viewpoint diversity and free enquiry as core to the purpose of a university. I have published in Community Care on free speech in the social work classroom, and have a range of scholarly endeavours currently on-going in this area of scholarship.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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