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Information on this page is for Fall 2020 applicants. If you were admitted prior to Fall 2020 please click here to view information accurate to your curriculum.

Community Change

The Community Change Pathway will engage students in developing a critical and reflexive understanding of the theory, models, and skills needed to promote action and change with diverse communities.  This includes understanding various approaches to creating change, including community organizing, community development, community planning, community-based policy advocacy, popular education, and the various strategies and considerations needed for each strategy.  It also includes a focus on understanding the contexts of communities and on power, privilege, oppression, praxis, and social justice within community change work. Our pathway aims to balance historical examples with cutting edge practices and skills, drawing on case examples and real-world experiences of individuals and communities engaged in community change. Our pathway embeds Community and Social Services content throughout all courses.

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Examples of career (job) titles and positions relevant to this pathway include but are not limited to:

  • Campus/Community Partnership
  • Community Liaison
  • Community Organizer
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Director of Public Policy
  • Director/Coordinator
  • Evaluation Specialist
  • Food Access Coordinator
  • Government Relations Officer
  • Program Director
  • Program Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Public Engagement Strategist
  • Services Specialist
  • Volunteer Engagement Manager

Field Experience

Types of agencies and settings where students in this pathway may engage in field learning:

  • Community Based Organizations

  • Cooperatives and Collectives

  • Advocacy Based Organizations

  • Higher Education

  • Neighborhood Development

  • Youth Development and Mentorship Programs

  • Environmental Justice Organizations

  • Food Security Programs

  • Health Promotion Organizations

  • Community Cultural Arts Programs

Program Details

Choose all (6 credits)

  • Theories and Practices of Community Change: Concepts, History and Approaches, 3 credits

  • Skills and Strategy for Community Change, 3 credits 

Choose at least 6 credits

  • Initial Pathway Elective Offerings:

    • Organizing for Social and Political Action, 3 credits

    • Community and Neighborhood Development, 3 credits

    • Multicultural, Multilingual and Global Organizing, 3 credits

    • Youth Empowerment and Organizing, 3 credits

    • Feminist and Critical Intersectionality Approaches to Community Change, 3 credits

    • Photovoice, 1 credit

    • Social Media and Social Change, 1 credit

    • Intergroup Dialogues/Diversity, Dialogues & Social Justice, 1 credit

    • Participatory Facilitation, 1 credit 

    • Using Art for Social Change, 1 credit 

    • Advancing Community Change Project Workshop, 1 credit

  • Future Pathway Electives Offerings:

    • Advancing Community Change Project Workshop, 3 credits

    • Participatory Research & Evaluation, 1-3 credits

    • Community-Based Policy Advocacy, 1 credit

    • Gender-Based Violence: Community, System, and Policy Responses in the Global Context

    • Environmental Justice Organizing, 1-3 credits

    • Anti-Oppressive and Transformative Justice Approaches to Community Change, 1-3 credits

    • Current Topics/Special Topics in Community Change, 1-3 credits

    • Gender-Based Violence: Community, System, and Policy Responses in the Global Context, 3 credits

  • Other Pathway courses that we could use for electives:

    • Political Social Work, 3 credits (Policy and Political Social Work)

    • Project and Program Design and Implementation, 3 credits (Management and Leadership)

    • Fundraising and Grant Writing, 3 credits (Management and Leadership) 

    • Power in the Global Context, 3 credits (Global)

    • Critical Reflexive Global Practices, 3 credits (Global)

    • Immigration, Social Justice, and the Practice of Social Work, 3 credits (Global)

    • Immigration Enforcement, Human Rights, and Social Justice, 1 credit (Global)

    • Language and Dialogues Across Groups, 1 credit (Global)

    • Indigenous Methodologies, 1 credit (Research & Evaluation)

Student Profile
Jacqueline Ramsey

  • Scholarship:
    Community Based Initiative Scholars

Jacqueline Ramsey’s interest in community change began in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. “I grew up wondering about the history of Detroit, even as a child. I wanted to know the strengths and challenges that the city faced. As I grew older, I would become aware of the systemic issues that plagued Detroit, and ultimately wanted a say so in the path of my city.”

After graduating from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology: Concentration in Social & Criminal Justice, Jacqueline accepted a 1-year internship with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. During her internship, Jacqueline coordinated political justice programs that empowered young adults to become active in the midterm 2018 elections. It was in this role that Jacqueline realized the importance of political engagement, especially at the local and state levels.

Read Jacqueline's full student profile.

Student Profile
Florence J. Alexander

  • Scholarship:
    National Community Scholar
  • Field Placement:
    One Love Global Lansing, MI
    Hyde Square Task Force, Boston, MA

Florence J. Alexander’s interest in community organizing, policy, and evaluation work stems from her inspiration from her parents, sisters, and brother Hubert, Josephine, Breannah, Andrea, Crystal, Hubert JR, & Adora in her hometown of Saginaw, MI. “My dad is a retired firefighter and my mom is a retired nurse, and showed me the true meaning of helping others and caring for communities. My sister, Breannah introduced me to volunteering, looking over grants, and community service in middle school through the youth advisory council and inspired me before I even knew what I should pursue. I want to change curriculum so black and brown folxs see ourselves in what we learn, create beautiful events, celebrate cultures, and serve communities in whichever way I can.”

During her undergraduate years at Saginaw Valley State University, Florence researched recidivism and community outreach programs with Project Safe Neighborhoods, worked at Girl Scouts, and served as a mentor with the Youth First program in Saginaw, MI. After undergraduate, Florence then moved to Boston to serve in AmeriCorps, and prepared to apply to the U-M School of Social Work.

Read Florence's full student profile.

Faculty Pathway Leads

  • Larry M. Gant

    Larry M. Gant

    PhD, MSW

    Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Professor of Art and Design, School of Art and Design

    Program evaluation, social action, community-based health programs, mezzo practice and social planning; public health social work, international social work, arts-based community development, health disparities emerging from syndemic-structural interactions, e.g. HIV/AIDS, poverty, violence-related PTSD, and impoverished care access.
  • Katie E. Richards-Schuster

    Katie E. Richards-Schuster

    Director of Undergraduate Minor Programs and Associate Professor of Social Work
    Youth participation, youth engagement, community organizing, critical youth media, educational justice, social justice education and post-undergraduate social change work
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