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Class Descriptions

Child Welfare System SW627

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will focus on the evolution and development of child protection in the United States. The goal of the course is to provide students with an understanding of how state governments think about the adequacy/appropriateness of parenting, the safety of children, when and how child protection agencies get involved with families and what the evidence says about such involvement. We will discuss the origins and implementation of major child welfare policies and we will review practice innovations and some of the most pressing challenges facing child welfare systems today. A common theme throughout the course will be the intersection of child welfare and poverty, race, gender, identity and trauma. The course will cover policies and practices from both micro and macro perspectives and students will learn how child welfare systems collaborate (or at times fail to collaborate) with other allied systems of care (e.g. community mental health, juvenile justice, substance abuse).

School Social Work Interventions SW628

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course presents advanced knowledge and skills essential to providing effective school social work interventions. Students will learn to identify, select and apply evidence-based prevention and intervention methods for use with individuals, groups, families, school personnel, and communities to enhance student learning, development, and school success. Student learning will include practice skills that advance social justice and educational access, trauma informed practice models, positive behavior supports for school wide programs and individuals, crisis prevention, planning, and intervention, behavior intervention planning; mediation, conflict resolution, and collaborative problem-solving methods. Specific interventions to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional Impairments; and other disabilities covered under the Individuals with Disability Education Act will be incorporated. Ways to promote family engagement and collaboration will be explored/ Skills to enhance collaboration and consultation between teachers, families, and other school personnel will be addressed. School social worker intervention methodologies will include ways to promote human rights and educational access, fostering school climates that are inviting, supportive, and inclusive of diversity. Students will acquire the skills needed to effectively practice as a school social worker to enhance student learnings and achievement. Content in this course includes multi tiered practice methodologies that promote socio-emotional and academic success. Inter-disciplinary approaches designed to strengthen individuals, groups, and families within larger social contexts such as the school and community will be presented. Methods that increase student and family access to education and educational resources will be explored. School wide interventions such as the implementation of positive behavioral supports, restorative practices, family engagement, inter-group dialogue, positive conflict resolution skills, and coordination and collaboration with youth serving agencies in the community will be discussed. Effective classroom wide, small group, and individual interventions will be practiced.

Contexts of Life-course Development: Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood SW630

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
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.

Integrated Health Scholar Seminar 1 SW631

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This seminar course will actively foster learning in the context of Integrated Healthcare models of service delivery and the growing Interprofessional Education (IPE) movement internationally, nationally and at the University of Michigan. The Integrated Health Seminar will introduce scholars to concepts related to Integrated Healthcare and Interprofessional Education and explore how they are integral to future Social Work practice. Foundational exploration of holistic models of care delivery and the vital skills of interprofessional teamwork will be a focus. The seminar will provide opportunities for IHS cohort development and learning in classroom meetings as well opportunities to be engaged in innovative Interprofessional experiential learning with students from other health science schools. The course will have scheduled in-class meetings as well as required participation in IPE events outside of the classroom.

Integrated Health Scholar Seminar 2 SW632

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This integrative seminar is for Integrated Health Scholar students who are in their final term semester of their MSW program. The course focuses on critical evaluation and application of cumulative theory, research, policy, field experience and integrated health practice skills learned over the course of their Integrated Health Scholars program in preparation for application in integrated health Social Work practice. Content and assignments will focus on connecting various domains of learning to final demonstration project(s).

Theories and Principles of Socially Just Policies SW638

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required
Course Description: In this course, students will be exposed to various theoretical frameworks informing policy development and gain an understanding of basic economic principles frequently employed in policy debates and discussions. With this knowledge, students will be able to identify, in a more sophisticated and nuanced way, policies that promote social justice and those that do not; understand how certain theoretical frameworks and ideas have been used to oppress and empower different groups, and identify points of interventions within existing institutions. One part of the course will cover different concepts of justice, fairness, and equity as they apply to public policy. Students will also interrogate ideas about neoliberalism, capitalism, globalization, and financialization and their influence on policies. Students will be introduced to concepts from economic theory that often used to promote or thwart the development of certain policies. This includes the concepts of supply and demand; market failure; and public goods.

Methods for Socially Just Policy Analysis SW639

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required
Course Description: This course will introduce students to a set of analytic tools and skills for critical policy thinking, reading, and writing. Analytic tools introduced in this class include Eugene Bardach’s Eightfold for policy analysis and using a feminist and intersectional framework for policy analysis with a particular emphasis on race, gender, and class. This course will enhance critical writing skills and teach concise and persuasive writing methods, issue framing, and legislative literacy for effective policy writing. Students will learn qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods frequently used for policy analysis. Students will also be introduced to policy document writing, including policy briefs, memos, factsheets, op-eds, and public comments. Finally, students will learn how to locate, read, and translate policy for community consumption.

Political Social Work SW640

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required
Course Description: This course will introduce students to political social work, which is social work practice, theory, and research that focuses on the use of policy and politics to create social change. Students will gain an understanding of how politics impacts their lives as well as the lives of those served by social workers on both a micro and macro level. This course will prepare students for work in political settings, such as on advocacy and electoral campaigns, as staff for elected officials, and running for office themselves. Students will develop practice skills for policy advocacy and engaging with policymakers, influencing policy agendas, and empowering clients to become politically engaged. Students will critically examine the role of social workers in politics throughout history and the ethics that govern practice in political settings. Finally, students will develop a political engagement plan to facilitate their continued involvement.

Policies Affecting Children and Families SW641

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will cover the various social services and policies that provide developmental, preventive, treatment, and rehabilitative services aimed at children and youth and their families. Particular emphasis will be placed on services provided by community-based agencies, child welfare services, and the juvenile justice system. Students will develop critical frameworks for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the policies and organization and delivery of child-oriented social services based on behavioral and social science research and through the lens of multiculturalism and social justice values.

Integrated Health Policy SW642

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will examine the integration of policies, financing, organization and delivery of physical health and behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) care services and programs for adults, youth and children. The primary focus of study will be the U.S. healthcare system, with international comparisons, including promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services in primary care, acute care, chronic care, and long-term care settings. The evolution of the integration of primary care and behavioral health care services will constitute the focus of our policy analysis. Historical and contemporary policy issues and trends, including ethical dilemmas, controversies, marginalized and stigmatized populations, social movements and the role of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as they affect access to care and health care quality will be discussed.

Policies Affecting Older Adults SW643

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will examine social policies, problems, and trends in social programs and services for older people. It will focus major attention on the strengths and limitations of existing policies and programs related to health, mental health, income maintenance, income deficiency, dependent care, housing, employment and unemployment, and institutional and residential care. This course will provide a framework for an analysis of the services provided to older people. This analysis will include the adequacy with which needs are met in various subgroups of the elderly population and across core diversity dimensions (including ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), marital status, national origin, race, religion or spirituality, sex, and sexual orientation). It will also include proposals for change in policies, programs and services. Programs will be compared in terms of access to benefits and services provided to older people..

Criminal Justice Policy SW645

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will survey major criminal justice issues facing adult populations in the U.S. Current criminal justice policies and policy alternatives to promote socially justice responses to crime and justice will be reviewed. Special topics such as mass incarceration, policing, and health and mental health needs in the criminal justice system will be covered, including relevant state and federal social policies aimed at addressing these issues.

Poverty, Inequality, & Anti-Poverty Policy in the US SW646

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will survey the major theoretical explanations for poverty and inequality, examine how poverty and inequality are conceptualized and measured throughout the globe, and expose students to contemporary policy responses and proposals to alleviate poverty, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, Students will consider how various anti-poverty efforts do or do not promote social justice values.

Financing the Revolution: How the Financial System Contributes to Inequality and What You Can do about it SW647

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: A stream of public scandals during the last two years have marred well-known financial services, whose discriminatory practices disparately impact communities at risk for exclusion and marginalization. Federal regulators fined Wells Fargo $1.5 billion after discovering that the bank’s employees opened transaction accounts and lines of credit without consumers’ knowledge, targeting Native consumers and undocumented immigrants. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s lawsuit against Capital One Bank alleged their practice of shuttering branches in Black and Brown communities was racially discriminatory. Bank of America’s questions to customers about citizenship and immigration status raised fears of surveillance and deportation. City governments pulled their money from banks providing financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The financial system’s predatory practices belie its increasing responsibility to the economy by undercutting the efforts of people hoping for a piece of prosperity. Banks levy higher fees in Black and Latinx communities, charging more for their entrée into the economy and extracting their economic power. Banks’ divestment from communities of color and lower-income white communities via branch closures shrinks the system’s physical footprint and forces reliance on inadequate financial technologies. Online and mobile banking are still a long way from narrowing the distance between people and the financial system given geographically-varying internet download speeds, intermittent cell phone service, and costly data plans. These practices contribute to a growing chasm between people and the economy and amount to predatory inclusion, whereby marginalized groups and communities receive access to the financial system in ways that undermine any potential benefits. While the news media has widely publicized financial system scandals, less observable are the everyday impacts of the financial system—changing the labor market, enabling globalization, and participating in racial capitalism. What is the financial system? In what ways is the financial system important to families and communities? What are the financial system’s racialized patterns and disparate impacts? How is the financial system entangled with global labor market trends? What are the roles of regulatory policies? Without reckoning with the reinforcing mechanisms of racial capitalism, globalization, technologization, and financialization, the financial system’s predatory practices reproduce and further entrench inequalities under the guises of opportunity and prosperity. This course explores these critical questions through readings, discussions, and activities.

Critical Discourse Analysis of Social Policy SW648

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: Power and ideology become established and (re)produced in social policy through its discourse and language. Critical analysis of policy discourse, thus, enables social work to make that power and ideology visible and then make challenge. This course will examine social policies by looking at the narratives, frames, representations, values, priorities, and omissions that are produced and reproduced in policy, and ways of challenging. Students will examine how discourses of deservingness, worth and productivity are deeply entrenched in US policies on various domains, such as public assistance, refugee resettlement, climate change, disability, health and poverty. Students will complete a mini or abbreviated Critical Discourse Analysis of policy of their choice by the end of the course.

Practicing Policy with Current Events SW649

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This policy skills course will help students develop an understanding of how to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and/or environmental justice through the application of critical thinking skills. Content area will be drawn from current events (e.g., immigration, child welfare, health care debates), and students will learn how to critically analyze the policy implications. Students will develop strategies to engage in policy practice to effect change and advocate for clients.

Theories and Practices of Community Change: Concepts, History and Approaches SW650

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This class will focus on the theories and practices for community change, with emphasis on the relationships between theory and practice (‘praxis’). It will familiarize students to a range of critical change theories and core concepts and help students to develop their own understanding of frameworks for community change. Students will engage with different theories in examining community change, which may include critical intersectionality, critical race, empowerment and liberation, social movement, and feminist theories, as examples. It will also look to historical and contemporary examples of community and social change movements to explore theory and practice including US and global community change movements, and the work of organic intellectuals and social change leaders (e.g. Grace Lee Boggs, Ella Baker, Myles Horton, ACT-UP, Black Lives Matter, #metoo, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Zapatistas, #GirlsLikeUs, World Social Forum, Climate Change). Throughout the class, students will also use these examples to examine and understand the major range of models and practices for engaging in community change, for example: community organizing, community development, community-based policy advocacy, and popular education, and be able to assess the differences, purposes, and theoretical basis for the practices. For Community Change Pathway participants: We strongly recommend that this course be taken before or concurrently with the other required pathway class.

Community & Neighborhood Development SW651

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course examines methods of community and neighborhood development as a process in which people join together and develop community-based programs and services at the local level to create community change, with or without assistance by outside agencies. It emphasizes ways in which residents can take initiative, contribute to collective action, and help themselves through community-based business and economic development, health and human services, popular education, and housing and neighborhood revitalization projects. Special emphasis will explore innovative approaches to community and neighborhood development including the role of time banks, cooperatives, and alternative economic models. The course will examine the history of community and economic development injustices, including issues of redlining, segregation, and urban and rural disinvestment. It will also explore innovative examples and models of community neighborhood development including community-benefit agreements development and new models of participatory planning and community-led resident economic developments. Emphasis will be placed on participatory planning processes with marginalized and oppressed groups and understanding the importance of entering communities both from an insider and outsider perspective.

Organizing for Social and Political Action SW652

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course examines methods of organizing people for social and political action on their own behalf or on behalf of others. Students will analyze different approaches to bringing people together for collective action, building organizational capacity, and generating power, with emphasis on the role of labor unions, coalitions, political organizing, and community-based policy advocacy. The course includes the study of skills in analyzing power structures, developing action strategies, conflict and persuasive tactics, challenging oppressive structures, conducting community campaigns, using political advocacy as a form of mobilization, and understanding contemporary social issues as they affect oppressed and disadvantaged communities. Special emphasis will be placed on organizing around social, economic, racial, and political injustice in the US and globally. Additional emphasis will be placed on organizing with communities of color, women, LGBTQIA2S+ populations, and other under-represented groups.

Skills and Strategy for Community Change SW653

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This course will engage students in learning core cross-cutting skills needed for engaging in community change. It will use a framework of “ Scan” - “Plan” – “Do” – “Review” to help organize skills. Learning to infuse cross-cutting principles including critical Praxis. Scan- Assessment and Scanning Skills (individual to community). Illustrative skills may include: social identity assessments, individual skills assessments, story of self/personal motivational assessments, community power mapping, asset/strength assessments, organizational/community scans, and neighborhood mapping Plan- Planning Skills. Illustrative skills may include: participatory community planning, strategy charts, implementation of planning steps, logic charts and theory of change Do- Action Skills. Illustrative skills may include: one-on-ones (formal and informal), facilitating participatory meetings, coalition-building techniques and considerations, policy advocacy, program development, intergroup facilitation, and community mobilization Review- Community reflection and Evaluation Skills. Illustrative skills may include: critical reflection, program/organizational evaluation, monitoring, campaign analysis, and participatory evaluation

Advancing Community Change Project Workshop SW654

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will support community change students to promote and advance projects aimed at change- in the school of social work, in field placements, on-campus, or in the community. The course will operate in a lab/workshop type format and use student-led projects to drive class content, discussion, and skills. Students will learn to employ community change models in their projects, as well as learn the process for innovating design-thinking approaches in the development of projects. The class will be highly participatory and focus on peer-learning, critical reflection, and peer consultation.

Neighborhood Planning (Urban Planning) SW655

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: The course focuses on concepts and issues that characterize community planning for neighborhoods and explores interdisciplinary approaches to neighborhood analysis and intervention.  The initiatives of community development corporations, city agencies, and the federal government are examined through lectures, readings, and guest speakers.  The central questions the course examines are: Why do neighborhoods experience prosperity and decline? Which approaches (e.g. economic development, urban design, social service delivery, housing rehabilitation, community organizing and empowerment) are likely to be most effective in revitalizing neighborhoods?  How do we assess existing approaches to neighborhood revitalization?  Emphasis is placed on discovering appropriate information sources, learning to ask relevant planning questions, and formulating program alternatives and recommendations.

Youth Empowerment and Organizing SW656

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course examines strategies for engaging and empowering young people, with emphasis on approaches in racially segregated and economically disinvested areas. It considers core concepts of youth empowerment at the individual, organizational, and community levels; models and methods of practice; age-appropriate and culturally-responsive approaches; roles of young people and adult allies; and perspectives on practice in a diverse democracy. The course will draw upon best practices from grassroots organizing, civic engagement, youth development, and child welfare.

Multicultural, Multilingual and Global Organizing SW657

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will examine organizing in multicultural, multilingual and global contexts. The course will examine the process of promoting intergroup relations and social development and the skills needed to facilitate change across settings. In particular, students will explore the roles of power, privilege, oppression, and social identities in organizing for change in diverse communities and coalitions, and across cultural and global contexts. Students will also examine contemporary and historic efforts to engage in multicultural, multilingual coalitions and multi-national and global change efforts, including climate justice and racial justice.

Feminist and Critical Intersectionality Approaches to Community Change SW658

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will examine feminist and critical intersectionality theories as an approach and framework for community change. It will emphasize understanding the role of power embedded in structures, how power manifests in privilege and oppression and in social patterns of inequality. Students will engage in learning frameworks identifying and analyzing injustice through a feminist and critical intersectional lens as well as developing skills to utilizing these frameworks in community change practice. Students will also use this lens to explore examples of feminist and critical intersectional change efforts in the US and globally.

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