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Class Descriptions

Contexts of Life-course Development: Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal PracticeElective
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older Adults
Children & FamiliesRequirement (Host)

Course Description

This course will examine the development of life course in stages, from conception to early childhood (0-6), middle childhood (7-12), adolescence (13-18), and emerging adulthood (18+). Students will explore how development unfolds, with a particular emphasis on how adversity shapes the experiences of children from a young age. Key theories used to understand human development and behavior include those focused on attachment, trauma, and resilience. Special attention will be given to the relationships between critical life conditions, (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic class, sexual orientation), life events (i.e., separation, loss, illness, transition to school, transition to adulthood) and psychological and physical functioning. Course material on identity will address the topics of self-esteem, self-concept, and the development of gender, race, and ethnic identity.


1. Understand individual development within the context of human relationships and particular social environments. (EPAS 7)
2. Understand how caregiving and peer relationships, culture, and biology interact to promote and inhibit adaptation and coping at particular life stages. (EPAS 7)
3. Explore the role of adversity (such as abuse, neglect, poverty, exposure to violence, medical trauma, and bullying) in shaping development. (EPAS 7)
4. Explore critical life conditions, (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic class, sexual orientation) in relation to developmental patterns and outcomes. (EPAS 2)
5. Identify individual, social, and environmental factors that promote and sustain resilience. (EPAS 6)
6. Critically examine and apply knowledge of human behavior to practice and policy decisions focused on wellness and prevention. (EPAS 5)


The course will use multiple pedagogical methods: short lectures, videos, participatory discussions, written assignments, student presentations, and exercises.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice, illuminate injustices and are consistent with scientific and professional knowledge. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will support students developing a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self-knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning.

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of developmental and lifecourse theories that will help students explore the connections between race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic class, sexual orientation and psychological and physical functioning and well-being. Through the use of a variety of instructional methods, this course will provide students with tools to understand and apply theories to practice with diverse populations.

Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Education Description

ID/IPE content in SW630 supports students to understand and value the importance of interprofessional and interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork in Social Work practice across a variety of populations, settings, and roles.
Inclusion of ID/IPE content is supported by and directly relates to:
CSWE core competencies 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9

University of Michigan 5 IPE Core Competencies: (Values/Ethics, Roles and Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, Teams/Teamwork and Intercultural Humility)
This pathway required-course intentionally integrates interdisciplinary or interprofessional practice content including:

CSWE Competencies addressed in this course are: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7

IPE Core Competencies addressed in this course are: Values/ethics; roles/responsibilities; intercultural humility

ID/IPE content that will be addressed and evaluated in the following ways:
1. Interdisciplinary and/or interprofessional practice are required content areas in the course with integration of relevant required readings, class lecture and discussion including:

This course uses interdisciplinary readings to deepen understanding of the psychosocial development of children, adolescents, and young adults. Readings are supplemented by recorded lectures that draws on the expertise of a variety of presenters. A core assignment provides students with an opportunity to learn about a child’s developmental history, current functioning, and family and peer relationships. Students assess a child’s development through a biopsychosocial lens, incorporating identity, context and risk and protective factors.

2. Students will be encouraged to actively contribute from their experiences, field placement practice, knowledge of readings, etc. to considerations of the impact of interdisciplinary and interprofessional care related to diverse populations and settings.

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