Dr Calvin Swords

Applied Social Studies

Lecturer/Assistant Professor


Calvin Swords is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University. As part of his core duties (teaching, research, scholarship, and service), Calvin is the Year 2 Coordinator of the Master of Social Science (Social Work).
Prior to his appointment in August 2021, Calvin worked as a CORU registered Social Worker. He brings with him experience in a wide range of practice settings within Ireland, the most recent of which was in a hospital setting working with people across all life stages. Calvin is also a graduate of the Master of Social Work from Trinity College, Dublin.
Calvin submitted his PhD in August 2021, which explored how recovery is socially constructed in Irish Mental Health Services. It was a qualitative case study design, which adopted an interpretivist methodology, using semi-structured interviews to gather the experiences of key stakeholders regarding their conceptualisation of recovery. For this study, Calvin was a recipient of the prestigious Irish Research Council postgraduate scholarship. This is one of the most competitive funding processes for doctoral research in Ireland.
During his PhD from 2018-2021, Calvin contributed to the social work courses in Trinity College, Dublin and Maynooth University as a part-time lecturer. He has lectured across a range of topics relevant to social work education in both Irish Universities. Some notable areas of teaching and scholarship include health-related social work, sociology of mental health, mental health recovery, critical social theory, and human development across social contexts.  
Calvin has published in both Irish and International journals. His research interests are informed by a focus on seeking to make sense, and address, the social injustices faced by people through connecting the micro and macro levels of our social systems in order to drive positive change. This includes looking at social recovery in mental health, the influence of sociology on health-related social work, the role of interdisciplinary work, using philosophy in social work practice, and the role of lived experience and co-production withn human organisations. 
Research areas of interest:

  • Social Recovery in Mental Health Service Delivery
  • Peer Support Work in Mental Health
  • Developing the Sociological Perspective in Social Work
  • The Social Work Role in Health-Related Settings
  • Interdisciplinary work
  • Role of Lived Experience within Social Work and Social Policy
  • Co-Production and Co-Creation in Mental Health Settings
  • Qualifying and Transitioning into Social Work Practice 


  • Peer Reviewed Journals: 

Houston, S. & Swords, C., (2021) 'Responding to the 'Weight of the World': Unveiling the 'Feeling' Bourdieu in Social Work', The British Journal of Social Work, DOI: https://10.1093/bjsw/bcab161

Houston, S. & Swords, C., (2021) Empowering Scapegoated Groups in Society: Critical Realism, Mimetic Theory and Social Work, Journal of Social Work. DOI: 10.1177/14680173211008806
Swords, Calvin and Houston, Stan (2021) ‘Using Social Constructionism to Research the Recovery Movement in Mental Health in Ireland: A Critical Reflection on Meta-theory Shaping the Inquiry’, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies: Vol. 21. Iss. 1, Article 5.   
Swords, Calvin and Houston, Stan (2020) "Exploring the Concept of Recovery in Irish Mental Health Services: A Case Study of Perspectives within an Inter Professional Team," Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies: Vol. 20: Iss. 1, Article 4.
Norton, M.J. and Swords, C. (2020), "Social recovery: a new interpretation to recovery-orientated services – a critical literature review", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 7-20. DOI: 10.1108/JMHTEP-06-2020-0035.
Swords, C. & M.J. Norton. (2020) "Is Sharing Really Caring? A Vision or an Aspiration? Ireland’s New Mental Health Policy 2020", Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, First View, pp.1-2, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/ipm.2020.118.
Houston, S. & Swords, C. (2020) ‘Analysing a parent’s capacity to change: towards a model for child protection social workers’, Journal of Social Work Practice, DOI: 10.1080/02650533.2020.1769581
Swords, C. (2019). ‘Recovery and Co-Production: Understanding the Diverging Paradigms and Potential Implications for Social Workers’, Irish Social Worker. Winter 2019.

  • Conference Contributions: 

Swords, C. (March 2021). ‘‘An exploration of the social construction of the concept of recovery in mental health and how this may impact on the delivery of services – an Irish case study’: Trinity Health and Education International Research Conference 2021: ‘Transforming healthcare in a changing world: new ways of thinking and working’ Dublin, Ireland.  
Swords, C. (July 2019). ‘An exploration of the social construction of the concept of recovery in mental health and how this may impact on the delivery of services – an Irish case study’: 1st All Ireland Social Work Conference: Dublin, Ireland.

  • Published Reports 

Gloria Kirwan & Calvin Swords (2020) Stronger Together: Members’ Perspectives on the Benefits of the Troy Social Club. Troy Mental Health Association, Dublin, Ireland.
Professional associations, committees in which you are actively involved:

  • CORU Registered Social Worker – 2017/Present
  • Co-Chair for the International Psychogeriatric Association for earlycareer researchers – 2020/present
  • Peer Reviewer for the Groupwork Journal – 2019/present
  • Curriculum Review Committee for the Master of Social Work, MaynoothUniversity – 2019/present


  • Social Work Theory
  • Social Work Skills
  • Critical Debates in Social Work
  • Health-Related Social Work
  • Mental Health Policy 

External Collaborators

  • Dr. Stan Houston, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Trinity College Dublin (Co-author/Researcher) (Ireland)
  • Michael John Norton, National Recovery Lead, Office for Mental Health Engagement and Recovery (Co-Author/Researcher) (Ireland)
  • Dr. Ottar Ness, Professor of Counselling at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Head of the Research Group on Relational Welfare and Well-Being (Co-Researcher) (Norway)
  • Kristina Bakke Akerblom, PhD Student, Department of Welfare and Participation, Western Norway University of Applied Social Sciences (Co-Researcher) (Norway)
  • Dr. Jeppe Oute Hansen, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Department of Health, Social and Welfare Studies, Denmark. (Co-Researcher) (Denmark)