- Historical research demonstrates that contemporary debates over ``what is social work'' have been both long-standing and profoundly influenced by the profession's ambivalent place within a university setting. The University of Toronto School of Social Work, founded in 1914, was divided into two clusters of instructors. One identified with social work practice and was made up largely of female part-time sessional appointments, with a frame of reference to the field and a growing American influence. The other identified with social science and comprised largely male full-time university appointments with a frame of reference to the university and a British pedagogical heritage. The latter dominated the school and had considerable power in shaping a local social work identity during the interwar period.