Required Courses

Darren Whitfield

SOCWRK 1000: Introduction to Social Work

This course provides an overview of professional social work. The course examines the historical development of the profession of social work; introduces the profession’s values, ethics, and practice principles; examines the major intervention methods of social work practice; identifies the generalist base of social work practice; and explores the social service delivery networks which comprise the social welfare system in urban environments. Social work’s historic commitment to social justice and to the elimination of poverty is integrated throughout the course. The course format includes lectures, discussion, exercises, guest presentations, reading assignments, examinations, student volunteer service, and visits to social agencies. NOTE: This is a service-learning course and requires 45 hours of volunteer service as part of the course. NOTE: This is a service-learning course and requires 45 hours of volunteer service as part of the course.

SOCWRK 1005: Foundations of the Welfare State

This course is designed to introduce social work students to the historical antecedents of social welfare.  We will trace the development of social welfare policy within the context of the social and political economy of the period.  We will also describe the evolution of social work as it emerged into a nascent profession.  We will examine the underlying assumptions and values which have shaped social welfare policies and programs.  The course concludes with the Social Security Act.

SOCWRK 1006: Policy Analysis

This course engages students in analysis of the nature and impact of economics, political and social ideologies and cultural forces that have shaped the development of American social welfare policies and services from 1935 to the present. Polices covered include those that address: discrimination, poverty, social insurance programs, public assistance programs, health care, mental health, substance abuse, criminal justice, child welfare, housing/homeless, and hunger. The course will continue with the curriculum focus on social and economic justice for oppressed populations. In this course the emphasis will be on the implications of social welfare policy at all levels (micro, mezzo and macro) and the affect this has on members of oppressed populations. The connection between these policy implications and the role of social workers in developing and modifying policy to lessen the degree of oppression will also be covered. NOTE: This is a service-learning course and requires 45 hours of volunteer service as part of the course.

SOCWRK 1008: Ethnicity and Social Welfare

This required course focuses on social work practice and issues of diversity, risk, oppression, resilience, and empowerment. It explores these issues within the context of developing students’ knowledge of and skills in using social work problem-solving methods with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Its purpose is to prepare students to be responsive social work professionals able to work respectfully and competently with diverse population groups. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. In this course, students will examine critically the relevance and appropriateness of practice approaches to working with diverse populations with a commitment to cultural humility. We will look at traditional ways of viewing diversity and challenge the notion of “different” as “problematic.” Students will explore societal, theoretical, and personal assumptions about diverse population groups; develop the basic social work skills needed for practice across micro, mezzo, and macro systems that have diverse characteristics and evaluate intervention strategies, techniques, and outcomes.

SOCWRK 1011: Generalist Practice with Individuals and Families 

This course is designed to further the development of generalist social work practice knowledge, values, and skills from a strengths-based, empowerment model.  It seeks to prepare students to practice with individuals and families from differing backgrounds.  There is emphasis on the importance of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic variables, cultural lifestyle, and value differences during assessments and during the selection and utilization of interventions.  The course emphasizes professional relationships that are characterized by mutuality, collaboration, and respect for the client system as well as skills to enhance the well-being of people and to help ameliorate the environmental conditions that adversely affect people in their ability to seek economic and social justice.  Students are also afforded the opportunity to identify with the social work profession as they continue their professional development. 

Four theoretical/conceptual frameworks are taught:  (1) psychosocial life model; (2) problem-solving approaches (e.g. structural family model, strategic and systemic models, and solution-focused model); (3) crises intervention, and the (4) cognitive behavioral model.  No preference is intended for any of the four models or any other model in particular.  The student is expected to develop an eclectic repertoire of practice approaches for entry-level generalist practice with individuals and families.  Lastly, the course is linked to other courses in the social work curriculum and builds upon the liberal arts foundation of the baccalaureate social work major.

SOCWRK 1012: Generalist Practice with Communities and Organizations

This course is the second in a series of three required generalist methods courses. This course utilizes an ecological systems framework and an empowerment practice model in discussion of social work generalist practice within the macro context. Students examine neighborhood and community conditions that affect outcomes for populations at risk. Students also examine the role of social service agencies within urban communities, including relationships with other neighborhood institutions and organizations. Students define concepts of community and organization as they develop community organizing and organizational leadership skills that are culturally sensitive and based in social work values.

SOCWRK 1013: Generalist Practice with Groups 

The course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of generalist social work practice with groups.  It includes a survey of small group constructs, research, and principles of ethical application.  Emphasis is placed on learning methods and skills of group facilitation and group observation and analysis.

The course utilizes a simulated laboratory group environment designed to assist students in gaining knowledge about becoming a member of a group.  It also affords students the opportunity to facilitate group experiences.  It combines didactic and experiential methods of learning.  Video and audio equipment may be utilized for the study of group dynamics and practice skill feedback.  A Student Learning Contract is also utilized.

SOCWRK 1015: Human Behavior and the Social Environment

This course analyzes theories of human behavior in the social environment from a life span developmental approach. The content of this course is designed to increase students’ potential for effective generalist social work assessment and interventions with individuals, families, groups, social systems, and communities. The course also strives to build students’ appreciation for and understanding of the ramifications of the “person-in-environment” principle which primarily takes into consideration the social, biological, and psychological influences of the environment. Students will examine the effects of social structures, social policies, and cultural patterns on individuals at all stages of life. 

SOCWRK 1020: Introduction to Social Work Research

This course introduces undergraduate social work students to basic concepts and procedures of social work research. Students will use these concepts to understand and critically assess research that bears on generalist social work practice and develop beginning skills to evaluate practice.

SOCWRK 1024 & 1025: Practicum Seminar and Lab 1

This generalist seminar is Part I of a required two course sequence. It engages students in analysis and evaluation of their own value-based, culturally-sensitive professional growth and development with a focus on the knowledge, values, and skills of generalist practice as evidenced by their application in the field of theories, methods, and techniques learned in prior and concurrent academic and field instruction. Seminar I students are assessed on their development of generalist practice skills with individuals, organizations, and communities.

SOCWRK 1026 & 1027: Practicum Seminar and Lab 2

This generalist seminar is Part II of a required two course sequence. It continues students’ engagement in the analysis and evaluation of their own value-based, culturally-sensitive professional growth and development with a focus on the knowledge, values, and skills of generalist practice as evidenced by their application in the field of theories, methods, and techniques learned in prior and concurrent academic and field instruction. Seminar II students are assessed on their development of generalist practice skills with families, groups, and organizations.

SOCWRK 1035: Global Perspectives in Social Work

This seminar-style course is designed to provide undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to engage in explorations of global social issues related to social welfare polices and social work practice and of major global organizations addressing these issues.  This course examines social work practice in a global context – both in the U.S. and abroad – with critical attention to relevant concepts, policies, and governmental and non-governmental organizations.  It does not present a comparative approach to international social work, but rather examines transnational problems and possibilities for intervention.  Specific topics and issues addressed include: globalization, human rights, social justice, social development, trafficking in persons, women’s and children’s rights, social exclusion, poverty, movements of people across borders, war and violence and their aftermath, mental and physical health, and the environment and disaster relief.

SOCWRK 1058: Economics and Social Work

This course is an introduction to basic economic terms, principles and theories with a focus

on implications for the social work profession. Using an economic framework, this course focuses on the topic of poverty and inequality in America. It is divided into four broad areas. We begin by looking at the extent and characteristics of poverty in the United States. This will include an understanding of how poverty is measured, as well as the patterns and dynamics of U.S. poverty over the recent decades. In addition, we will explore how the risk of poverty varies with respect to differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, social class and background.  Trends and patterns with respect to economic inequality will also be examined. A second major area explored is the reasons for poverty. This includes a discussion of several theoretical perspectives designed to explain the existence of poverty in America. We will divide these explanations into those that focus on the individual as the primary cause of poverty, on the culture in which individuals reside as a critical reason for poverty, and on the economic or social structure of society as the root cause of poverty.  A third area of focus will be the effects and consequences of poverty upon individuals, families, and communities.  These will include the detrimental effects of impoverishment upon health, education, life chances, and residence.  In addition, the day to day meaning of poverty is explored, along with the strengths exhibited by those who encounter poverty.  Our fourth major topic will review various strategies for alleviating poverty. These will include such things as the maintenance of a social safety net, battling homelessness, hunger programs, and holistic community approaches to alleviating poverty.

SOCWRK 1059: Child and Family Advocacy

This course has a dual emphasis on (a) legal issues that affect children and families, and (b) strategies parents and professionals can use to identify, implement, monitor, and evaluate resources to meet the needs of children and families fairly and effectively. The focus is the social worker's role as an effective advocate for children and families. Students will develop knowledge, skills, and values they need to be effective advocates for their clients.

SOCWRK 1063: African-American Health Issues

This course focuses on black health issues from analytical, theoretical and practical perspectives. These perspectives will be introduced through cross examination of health topics which are critical to the black population, the developing of health policies and conceptual models for health promotion and disease prevention.

 SOCWRK 1079: Child Welfare Services

The focus of this class is on the broad perspectives that have shaped policy in the area of children and families in the United States. This course establishes a connection between child welfare policy, services, and social work practice. It builds upon the foundation course in social welfare policy, and enables students to use an action-based advocacy approach to provide policy-informed services and to participate in policy implementation and change.

The course will start with an historical view of the treatment of vulnerable children and the subsequent development of child welfare services. We will study the evolution and enactment of early child welfare policies through to the emergence of modern child welfare policies and their impact on child welfare systems in a multicultural society; paying particular attention to the effects of poverty, racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, the use of out-of-home care as well as child abuse and neglect. Finally, professional self-development for competent child welfare practice and advocacy is emphasized.