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Class Descriptions

Critical Reflexive Global Practices


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: SW505 (concurrent enrollment in SW505 permitted if necessary)

Pathway Associations

Community ChangeElective
GlobalRequirement (Host)
Interpersonal Practice
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older Adults
Children & Families

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare social work students for effective and ethical professional practice in global social work contexts.

This course works from a framework that acknowledges that global issues and practice are not bound by physical borders. Global contexts within the USA and abroad will be explored. These contexts will be within and across different cultural, geopolitical, socio-economic, organizational, and interpersonal settings.

Ongoing development of critical consciousness is the core of this course. Throughout the course, students will critically and reflexively examine the impact of their positionalities, privilege, values, assumptions, prejudice, and biases. Specific attention will be placed on analyzing types, levels, and sources of power and mechanisms of oppression to assist students in addressing global inequalities. They will use such expanding/increasing critical understanding and insights to more effectively work including advocacy and developing allyship in diverse global contexts.


1- Identify and comprehend potential impacts of their assumptions, values, biases, positionalities (aspects of one’s position such as gender, gender expression, age, wealth, race/ethnicity, and nationality that impact perceptions, reactions, etc.) on social work practice in a global setting; (EPAS 1, 2, 3; PODS)

2- Navigate and negotiate within and across various geopolitical, socio-economic, cultural, and organizational contexts by utilizing intercultural communication skills, practice cultural humility, and demonstrate an increasing capacity for critical consciousness; (EPAS 1, 2, 3; PODS)

3- Analyze practice principles and processes that build on local/indigenous knowledge and experience in the historical and contemporary geopolitical, socio-economic, and cultural contexts. This will include students’ demonstration of awareness of the effects of current and historical oppression, discrimination, and trauma on client and client systems; (EPAS 1, 2, 3, 4, 9; PODS)

4- Conduct assessments that take into consideration the role that geopolitical, socio-economic, and cultural contexts play in defining social issues and developing interventions to advance human rights, social, economic, and environmental justice; (EPAS 1, 2, 3, 7; PODS)

5- Evaluate ethical issues and articulate possible responses that appropriately consider the local context and personal biases. As a result, students will learn how to advocate for the rights of marginalized, stigmatized, excluded, exploited and oppressed individuals, communities, and societies; (EPAS 1, 2, 3, 6, 9; PODS)

6- Develop/propose strategies that challenge existing models and frameworks of international engagement (e.g aid based, charity, volunteerism, non-Western models, shared economies) and underlying philosophies and assumptions/biases. (EPAS 2, 3, 5, 8; PODS)


Class meeting time will generally be devoted to discussion and related activities. Presentations (by the instructor, students, and guest lecturers) and readings will provide the basis for the discussion.

There will be a Canvas site established for this course. Readings, lectures, and other resources will be posted on this site. There is no required textbook for the course.

This course also utilizes modules from a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change. Students will be expected to enroll in this MOOC and complete indicated modules before certain course sessions.

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.

Theme Relation to Multiculturalism & Diversity
Multiculturalism and Diversity will be central to the course and integrated throughout. Privilege and oppression concepts will be used as a lens through which we examine individual and group relations in other countries. Additionally, we will examine how privilege and oppression inform our understanding of various national contexts, including our own.

Theme Relation to Social Justice
Social justice and social change will be considered in a multinational context, including examining issues of human rights. Through ongoing critical analyses, students will be encouraged to explore and propose policy and practice approaches that promote social change and social justice.

Relationship to Social Work ethics and Values
Ethical issues are of central importance in thinking about global social work. In particular, this course will examine topics such as informed consent (e.g. questions of clarity of communication when there are language/cultural differences) and value/cultural/religious difference. The course also examines the Statement of Ethical Principles developed by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). We will explore strategies to change policies and practices that violate social work ethics and values in consideration of contexts within and across different cultural, geopolitical, socioeconomic, organizational, and interpersonal settings.

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