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Class Descriptions

Frameworks for Understanding Social Impact Organizations


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required

Pathway Associations

Community ChangeElective
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & LeadershipRequirement (Host)
Policy & PoliticalElective
Program EvaluationElective
Older AdultsElective
Children & FamiliesElective

Course Description

This course will provide an overview of traditional and contemporary organizational theories and strategic frameworks relevant to understanding social impact organizations. A wide range of topics will be covered including but not limited to: organizational survival and adaptation to environmental changes, power asymmetry/dynamics between service providers and clients, staff and client diversity and inclusion, and informal strategies that providers develop to legitimize their practices while satisfying multiple stakeholders’ expectations. Using multiple theories and perspectives, students will develop a conceptual framework for recognizing how various environmental-, organizational-, and individual-level attributes shape social impact organizational behaviors and service provider’s practices. The framework will help students to reflect on organizational experiences and critically analyze institutionalized assumptions and beliefs that reside within social impact organizations. Using the conceptual basis acquired from this course, students will be asked to analyze a social impact organization and recommend strategies to improve organizational functioning.


At the end of the course, students will:
1. Apply a conceptual framework to analyze behaviors of social impact organizations using critical thinking. (EPAS 4, 6, 7)
2. Analyze factors that influence organizations’ managerial decisions, incentivize staff members’ practices, and shape clients/service users’ experiences. (EPAS 4, 7)
3. Identify, address and prioritize issues of oppression, intersectional diversity, privilege, and inclusion in social impact organizations. (PODS; EPAS 4, 7)
4. Conceptualize social impact organizations in the context of intervening macro environments. (EPAS 4, 7, 8)
5. Formulate strategies for organizational change to advance the missions and values of social impact organizations. (EPAS 6, 9)
6. Evaluate ethical concerns in governing social impact organizations and designing organizational strategy, especially those related to the disempowerment of stakeholders who traditionally have experienced marginalization and oppression. (PODS, EPAS 8, 9)
7. Execute and foster socially just organizational processes and practices. (PODS, EPAS 6, 8, 9)


This course will use multiple methods including but not limited to lectures, demonstrations, case studies, readings, guest speakers, discussions, written assignments, individual and group exercises. The primary pedagogy will be experiential, involving problem-solving, project planning, simulations and hands-on applications of real-world situations arising in the field.

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

This course discusses how institutional biases and oppression reproduce macro-environment arrangements, social impact organization’s behavior, service provider’s practices, and service users’ experiences. Students will identify how inequities are manifested, maintained and reinforced in systems and identify systemic policies and practices and resist marginalizing and disempowering dynamics. Students will learn and practice how to conceptualize interventions for systemic patterns within their practice setting and beyond social impact organizations.

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.

Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Education Description

ID/IPE content refers to explicit content that involves scholarship, evidence, and experience from one, or more social science or other disciplines as they impact and/or expand social work knowledge. ID/IPE content in SW662 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:

This pathway required-course intentionally integrates interdisciplinary or interprofessional practice content including:
CSWE Competencies addressed in this course are: #2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
IPE Core Competencies addressed in this course are: Values/Ethics, Roles/Responsibilities, Interprofessional Communication, Teams/Teamwork, and Intercultural humility

ID/IPE content that will be addressed and evaluated in the following ways:
Interdisciplinary and/or interprofessional practice are required content areas in the course with integration of relevant required readings, class lecture, discussion, and assignment including:
Organizational issue essay assignments that students will integrate interdisciplinary and interprofessional practice theories, perspectives, and frameworks to analyze their experiences within organizational practice settings
Case studies with intentional learning objectives of students’ exposure to the experiences and perspectives of helping professionals with diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

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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