Course Descriptions

Social Work with Groups

This course is an exploration of the ways in which groups can bring clients together to support, challenge, and create meaningful connections with each other. Through mutual aid, group members can learn the skills that will enable them to improve the relationships in their lives, be more empowered as individuals and community members, and mobilize for social change. Students will concurrently build theoretical and skills-based knowledge and will practice and reflect on various techniques that will enable them to facilitate groups in a wide array of settings across client populations.

Social Welfare Policy and Services

This course focuses on the social welfare policy context in which social workers practice and social welfare benefits and services are received. Course content familiarizes social work students with the history and evolution of social welfare policies as well as current-day examples of policies that influence social work practice. To appreciate the complexities, contradictions, strengths, and weaknesses of the American approach to social welfare, a number of factors will be analyzed including history, economics, politics, ideologies and values, and alternate policy models.

In this course, students learn to analyze historical and current social welfare policies in light of principles of social and economic justice and human rights. The role of power and privilege in social welfare policy will be assessed as it pertains to equality, equitability, and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, class, disability, and other individual and population characteristics. Ways in which social work practice is both influenced and impacted by social welfare policies will be emphasized.

Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Human Behavior in the Social Environment provides students with critical perspectives on a variety of theoretical frameworks used to understand regularities and irregularities in human development and functioning across the life span. One important focus is the ecological-developmental approach, which emphasizes the ways in which culture and the broader social environment shape human behavior and identity, both in terms of general patterns and unique configurations. Particular attention is paid to culture, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation as dynamic social constructions that can be sources of both oppression and strength at all levels of social systems. A second focus is on the biological, psychological, and spiritual person and the interrelatedness of emotion and cognition, neurobiology, and the social environment. The course emphasizes the changing, dynamic, and interactive processes that shape human behavior and development of self across the life span.

Social Work Practice

This two-semester course exposes students to selected generalist practice theories for social workers. The course will examine various levels of intervention, practice settings, and theoretical perspectives. Students are introduced to the general processes that are common to every client system level: preparation and engagement, differential use of self, assessment, contracting, intervention planning, intervention evaluation, and termination of services that are applicable no matter the setting or client group. Considered over two semesters is work with individuals, families, groups and the social context in which these client groups exist. A special concern is the impact of diversity and oppression for client and worker. Emphasis of this semester is mastering multi-level assessment. Actual practice dilemmas are examined through case discussions, videotapes, role-play, and other exercises.

Social Work Research

In this introductory course, students examine the research process as it applies to the specialized interests and needs of social work. Illustrations are chosen from the studies of social work practice. The course is designed to enable students to be critical consumers of research, to understand the principles and process of research and the evaluation of practice, to become familiar with ethical considerations when designing and implementing a project, and to be capable of participating in practice related research. Sections with some online class sessions are designated as “blended.”

Dynamics of Racism and Oppression

This course is an intensive examination of the dynamics of various forms of oppression in U.S. society. The selection of the oppression of racism is deliberate. The course begins with an analysis of racism from structural, (social) psychological, and applied perspectives. These frames inform the analysis of other types of oppression (e.g., sexism, classism, homophobia). The course will explore the costs of oppression to all individuals and its differential impact on individuals in dominant and subordinate positions. The importance of power and the dynamics of domination and subordination in all forms of oppression will be explored. Practice issues will be examined in relation to interventions at multiple levels (individual, group, and institutional).

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