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Class Descriptions

Independent Studies: Policy & Political Social Work SW548

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

Child and Family Well-Being - Macro Practice SW623

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This course will provide a macro lens to assess and engage with various social services, policies, and programs that provide developmental, preventive, protective, and rehabilitative services for children, youth, and families. Students will be introduced to major policies and macro-level issues within the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. The racial and economic achievement and discipline gaps will be explored within the context of schools. Students will examine historical child welfare policy development, explore strengths, limitations, and outcomes, paying particular attention to systemic gaps in service delivery, the over-representation of children of color, the differential response of family serving systems based upon social identify differences, the structural exclusion of the voice of marginalized communities, and deficits of cultural and linguistic competence. The course will develop socially just and culturally-competent policies and practices by delving into the competing tensions of child-protection/family-preservation and quality/quantity of services, and analyze evidence-based change interventions that build on strengths and resources of children and their families at all levels of intervention while considering the diversity of families including race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexual orientation, gender expression, religion, ability and other social identities. Students will learn about disproportionate minority contact and the impact of incarceration on youth as well as interconnections between the three systems. This course will also examine efforts to engage communities in the policy and service delivery process through a variety of mechanisms including community partnerships, coalitions, and systems of care. Students will be sensitized to the roles of power and privilege of professionals, and gain insights about how similarities and differences between themselves and client communities affect mezzo and macro policy development and implementation for children, youth, and families.
Pathway Requirement For: Welfare of Children & Families (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse, Policy & Political Social Work

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.
Pathway Requirement For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Management & Leadership, Program Evaluation and Applied Research, Welfare of Children & Families

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 frameworks for policy analysis and using feminist, intersectional, and critical race lenses for policy analysis. The impact of race, gender, and class on policy development and enactment are emphasized throughout the course as well as an exploration of global approaches to policy analysis. 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.
Pathway Requirement For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Management & Leadership, Program Evaluation and Applied Research

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.
Pathway Requirement For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Community Change

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.
Pathway Elective For: Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse, Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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..
Pathway Requirement For: Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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.
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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.
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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.
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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.
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host)

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.
Pathway Elective For: Community Change (Host), Management & Leadership, Policy & Political Social Work

Project and Program Design and Implementation SW660

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: Traditional project management tools enable social workers to conceive, plan, design, implement, manage, assess, and change projects effectively. Whereas projects are time-bound and discrete, programs are an ongoing collection of projects that can be managed together. Managing programs and projects in an inclusive and socially just manner necessarily requires engaging all people involved or affected by a project in meaningful and deliberate ways. Students will weave technical—and technological—tools together with inclusive structures in order to include and engage all stakeholders in the success of projects and programs. Technical skills developed in this course involve selecting and implementing tools to strategically design and manage projects in rapidly changing environments, as well as maximizing inclusion and equity with diverse populations. Management is a set of well-known processes, like planning, budgeting, structuring jobs, staffing jobs, measuring performance and problem-solving. This course will concentrate on single service projects as planned systems of action that engage the perspectives of clients, program and project staff, directors and managers, as well as the full organization. This course will prepare students to assist in tasks common to all phases of project development and assume independent responsibility for performing tasks some of these tasks (e.g., documenting program plans, developing initial budgets, program process analysis, and scheduling change). Specific attention will be given to issues in program design and development and the differential impacts on social identity groups that traditionally have been marginalized.
Pathway Elective For: Community Change, Global Social Work Practice, Management & Leadership (Host), Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research

Budgeting and Fiscal Management SW661

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course will present the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to develop and manage the budget and finances of a social impact organization and its programs. Students will learn to use the techniques necessary to: 1) Plan, develop, display, revise, monitor, and evaluate a program budget using different kinds of budget formats; 2) Evaluate past financial performance; 3) Evaluate and propose financial changes for the future; 4) Monitor and evaluate the cost-efficiency and cost-effectiveness of social impact programs and organizations. The course will include exercises to develop and manage a budget for a program in an organization, along with a review of relevant policies and procedures in these organizations. Students will learn to understand cost analysis, and calculate income and expense estimates. The pros and cons of using various types of budgets will be compared. Students will receive an introduction to the process of overall organizational financial planning and auditing, including such topics as the role of Boards of Directors and consultants in financial management, planning, and evaluation. Calculation of indirect (overhead) costs, allocation methods, and issues of continuation funding will be discussed. Students will learn to develop an annual budget.. Development of a budget will include estimating and allocating all costs, including that of of personnel, which is the major expense in human service programs. Students will learn how basic financial transactions are reported through standard accounting procedures, how revenues and expenses are monitored and how all the finances of the agency are consolidated into typical financial statements . Additional topics are introduced to highlight contemporary issues affecting financial stability and sustainability.
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Management & Leadership (Host), Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research

Frameworks for Understanding Social Impact Organizations SW662

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials required
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.
Pathway Requirement For: Management & Leadership (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research, Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective, Welfare of Children & Families

Fundraising and Grant Writing SW663

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: Social impact organizations secure resources through a variety of methods, including fees, grants, contracts, financial gifts, in-kind (non-cash) contributions, and investments. This course involves assessing an agency’s resource mix and developing tactics and strategies to sustain or expand its revenue streams. Students will explore the range of possible income sources that organizations can allocate to advance social justice by expanding and improving services, empowering groups, reaching populations in need, improving social conditions or anticipating and responding to new challenges. The implications of using alternative approaches of income generation and of changing the income mix will be analyzed in terms of mission accomplishment, program viability, adherence to ethics and values, and organizational sustainability. Skill development will be emphasized in areas such as grant seeking, proposal writing, donor development, direct solicitation of gifts, service contracting, and strategically communicating mission. Students will learn how to identify prospective funding sources, build relationships with potential donors, funders and collaborators, write, package and submit grant proposals, and communicate strategically. This course will also address emerging and changing trends in philanthropy.
Pathway Elective For: Community Change, Global Social Work Practice, Management & Leadership (Host), Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research

Social Impact Leadership and Governance SW665

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This course will examine the attributes, skills, behaviors, problems, and issues associated with leadership in social impact organizations, both in the public and private sectors. Students will explore multiple styles of leadership, as well as the application of those styles in various settings. Some emphasis will be placed on the basic rudiments of executive positions and roles in relation to decision-making and facilitation, organizational governance, and relationships with boards of directors and external stakeholders. Issues pertaining to intersectional dimensions of identity (ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity and gender expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, spirituality, sex, sexual orientation) will be given special attention, particularly as students develop their own identity as leaders and manage relationships and conflict in the workplace. Leadership will also be analyzed in relation to the stages of organizational development. Concomitant with the above executive roles and skills, this course will address strategies for organizational development that are directed toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as enhancing adaptability, effectiveness, and efficiency to serving populations that have traditionally experienced marginalization.
Pathway Requirement For: Management & Leadership (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work, Welfare of Children & Families

Qualitative Methodologies for Socially Just Inquiry SW670

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This course is designed as an introduction to the process of qualitative inquiry with a particular focus on the challenges of engaging in anti-oppressive, socially just, culturally sensitive, and decolonizing research activities. It will introduce students to the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative inquiry as well as expose them to basic issues in designing and implementing qualitative research projects. Students enrolled in the Evaluation and Research Pathway must select from one of two required foundational courses before completing their specialized electives in methodologies and methods. This course will meet that foundational requirement
Pathway Requirement For: Program Evaluation and Applied Research (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Policy & Political Social Work

Quantitative Methodologies for Socially Just Inquiry SW671

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Foundation Essentials Required
Course Description: This course is designed to advance the foundational ideas of quantitative research in social work and the social sciences, with a particular focus on applied quantitative research dedicated to the study of social problems and the development of social interventions at the macro, meso and micro levels. The course will deepen students’ understanding of such issues as sample selection, measurement, and questionnaire design, research design, and basic analytic approaches. Students enrolled in the Evaluation and Research Pathway must select from one of two required foundational courses before completing their specialized electives in methodologies and methods. This course will meet that foundational requirement.
Pathway Requirement For: Program Evaluation and Applied Research (Host)
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Policy & Political Social Work

Data Visualization Applications SW672

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: In an era of evidence based practice, community workers, advocates, and evaluators will likely find that they need to interpret and visualize data from a wide variety of sources. Understanding, interpreting and visualizing data (including some basic coding) can make the difference in successfully or unsuccessfully advocating for communities, clients or programs, and for understanding the impact of programs on clients. Increasingly, data relevant to community, participant and client well-being are available from a broad range of sources, whether those be databases of volunteers and donors, the Census, the World Bank, in addition to many others. This course will be focused on the acquisition of concrete applicable skills and strategies for interpreting and visualizing community data, including learning in R, Tableau and QGIS. Some learning of basic coding in R will be involved in this course.
Pathway Elective For: Global Social Work Practice, Management & Leadership, Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research (Host)

Advanced Statistics SW673

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course is designed to introduce students to statistics and statistical methods. It is intended and designed for students who already have some familiarity with statistics. Students in this course will acquire the skills to create and comprehend statistical reports related to program evaluation and research practice. Students will be able to assess the value and limitations of measures of central tendency (means, medians and modes), rates, and statistical estimates such as correlations and regression parameters. This course will help students develop the ability to use advanced quantitative methods to describe and analyze real world situations in social work settings and to make ethical inferences and decisions based on the statistical results. Students will learn to choose methods of statistical analysis to improve social policy decisions, service delivery, and intervention programs. Students will learn to understand and use appropriate language with their statistical analyses to clarify meaning and to explain the inferences (e.g. causal inferences) that can be appropriately made from specific data. 
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work, Program Evaluation and Applied Research (Host)

Immigration, Forced Migration, and Transformative Social Work Practice SW682

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: This course focuses on immigration - one of the most volatile and hotly debated issues of our time. How we respond to the myriad questions about immigration and immigrants and the problems generated by public policy responses to various kinds of immigration will determine how our society and economy will look and function in the future. Students will gain historical, structural and critical analyses of theories and debates related to immigration and forced migration, such as: political economy perspectives about the supply and demand of migrant labor; identity, culture and intersectionality based on Critical Latinx Theory; the challenges of ‘integration’; and tensions between citizenship rights activism versus No Borders activism. Students will understand policies and systems that both facilitate and delimit social work practice with immigrants and refugees, including the family, child welfare, refugee resettlement, asylum, health and mental health, community and legal systems. This course imparts and aspires for social work practice with immigrants and refugees that is forward-looking, transformative and just.
Pathway Elective For: Community Change, Global Social Work Practice (Host), Policy & Political Social Work

Social Work Practice in the Era of Fake News SW740

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: The term “post-truth,” the Oxford Dictionaries 2016 Word of the Year, reflects an era where everyone is a few clicks away from information that supports any goal, belief, or outcome desired whether or not that information is factual. Evaluating information and recognizing “fake news” is a critical skill for everyone. For social workers, advocates, policy makers, and others responsible for human well-being, it’s essential to find reliable data and other evidence to promote best practice and avoid the dangers of inaccurate information. Skill in locating and evaluating information can also help a practitioner work with clients and others who bring incorrect information into an interaction.
Pathway Elective For: Community Change, Management & Leadership, Policy & Political Social Work (Host), Program Evaluation and Applied Research

Interdisciplinary Problem Solving (Law) SW741

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: Through a team-based, experiential, and interdisciplinary learning model, small groups of U-M graduate and professional students work with faculty to explore and offer solutions to emerging, complex problems. This course is offered through the Law School’s Problem Solving Initiative and the topics vary by semester.
Pathway Elective For: Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse, Policy & Political Social Work (Host), Program Evaluation and Applied Research

Policy & Political Social Work Simulation Lab SW742

Credits: 1
Prerequisites: None
Course Description: In this course, students will participate in a simulation in which they will take on the role of policymakers, policy advocates, and community stakeholders. Students will be assigned a role, will research their character, and will engage with the other participants as that character throughout the duration of the simulation. Students will engage with each other in person as well as utilize an online platform to develop coalitions and attempt to sway those with differing positions to their side. Simulation topics vary by semester. The class may be taken multiple times for credit as long as a different topic is selected.
Pathway Elective For: Policy & Political Social Work (Host), Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective

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