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Certificate in Political Social Work


The Certificate in Political Social Work is designed for all social workers, regardless of area of primary practice, to fulfill their ethical obligation to engage in social and political action. Participants of this certificate program will learn how politics impacts the lives of those that they serve on both a micro and macro level, practice skills for advocating to policymakers, gain tools to empower clients to become politically engaged, and explore opportunities for running for office.

Foundations of Political Social Work: This module will include the historical and current role of social workers in the political process as well as knowledge that is core to political social work practice. Topics include: emerging political social work research and theory, political justice, ethics in political social work, and foundational skills in communicating political information.

Tools for Political Social Work: This module will cover skills and strategies that social workers can apply to their current practice as well as tools to enhance their political engagement. Topics include: identifying and combating fake news, advocacy and activism, and running campaigns.

Special Knowledge Areas for Political Social Work: This module covers important topic areas social workers should be familiar with when engaging in political social work practice, including organized labor and immigration. This module is intended to be responsive to emerging political topics relevant to social work.


  • Describe major political social work theories.
  • Describe research methods and findings in political social work.
  • Define "political justice" and describe its connection to social work practice.
  • Describe the ethical responsibility of social workers to engage in political work.
  • Identify potential ethical dilemmas that social workers encounter while doing political work.
  • Identify strategies and skills to hold and facilitate discussions across political divides.
  • Describe the ethical basis for being involved in resolving division within organizations and communities.
  • Describe how the day-to-day work of being an elected official relates to social work ethics and values.
  • Describe how to identify and advocate to your appointed and elected officials.
  • Describe methods of engaging in political advocacy and activism.
  • Describe the skills needed to successfully campaign for elected office.
  • Describe the skills needed to successfully fundraise for electoral campaigns.
  • Identify the different kinds of political campaigns.
  • Describe methods for targeting voters to support your cause.
  • Identify opportunities for coalition building within communities and organizations.
  • Describe the skills needed to establish and maintain key relationships to ensure coalition success.
  • Apply political social work practice in a workplace setting.
  • Describe acceptable ways to advocate for your agency’s mission and to engage clients in advocating for themselves.
  • Define "fake news" and understand its impact on society.
  • Identify reputable news sources and how to counter fake news.
  • Identify the most effective graphs/charts and design choices to convey your desired message.
  • Describe the foundational skills of working with undocumented and mixed status communities.
  • Identify best practices, legal restrictions, and resources that impact the lives of undocumented immigrants.
  • Describe the importance of tax policy to social work practice.
  • Define "environmental justice" and describe its connection to social work practice.
  • Explain how climate change is an example of environmental injustice.
  • Describe the structure and function of the two major US political parties.
  • Describe the past, present, and potential future relationships between social work and organized labor. Identify mutual interests and opportunities between social work and labor. Describe the role that unions play in the economy, in democracy, and in communities.

Self-Paced Agenda

Expected DurationDescription
self-paced2.6 Identity, Messaging, Voter Contact & Targeting
self-paced3.6 Social Work and Unions
self-paced3.5 Tax Policy
self-paced3.4 Environmental Justice/Climate Change
self-paced3.3 Social Work and Immigration
self-paced3.2 Political Parties
self-paced3.1 Information Literacy: Combating "Fake News"
self-paced2.9 Reaching Your Audience: A Data Visualization Toolkit
self-paced2.8 Public Discourse
self-paced2.7 Branding
self-paced1.1 Political Social Work Theories & Research
self-paced2.5 Planning, Organizing, and Funding a Campaign
self-paced2.4 Political Social Work in the Workplace
self-paced2.3 Building and Maintaining Coalitions
self-paced2.2 Activism and Advocacy
self-paced2.1 Identifying the Elected/Appointed Officials in Your Community
self-paced1.5 Engaging Elected Officials: An Inside Perspective
self-paced1.4 Bridging Divides
self-paced1.3 Ethics in Political Social Work
self-paced1.2 Political Justice & Voter Engagement
hybrid certificate program


  • self-paced

CE Contact Hours

  • 1 ethics asynchronous online
  • 26 regular asynchronous online
  • 1 regular live interactive online

Skill Level




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