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Online Certificate in Political Social Work

Political social work is social work practice, theory, and research that focuses on the use of policy and politics to create social change. The Certificate in Political Social Work is designed for all social workers, regardless of area of primary practice, to fulfill their ethical obligation to engage in social and political action, or for anyone interested in applying social justice to politics and policy. Participants of this certificate program will learn how politics impacts the lives of those that they serve on both a micro and macro level, practice skills for advocating to policymakers, gain tools to empower clients to become politically engaged, and explore opportunities for running for office.

Participants will complete 28 online social work continuing education credits including:

  • 27 hours of self-directed video lectures
  • 1 hour of live online Q&A with the certificate lead instructor

Register now

Foundations of Political Social Work

This module will include the historical and current role of social workers in the political process, emerging political social work research and theory, as well as the NASW Code of Ethics standard which calls for social workers to engage in "social and political action" as part of their ethical responsibilities to the broader society.

1.1 Political Social Work Theories & Research
1.2 Political Justice & Voter Engagement
1.3 Ethics in Political Social Work
1.4 Bridging Divides
1.5 Engaging Elected Officials: An Inside Perspective

Tools for Political Social Work Practice

This module will cover skills and strategies that social workers can apply to effectively engage and communicate with constituents, policymakers, and elected and appointed officials to enact change across practice settings.

2.1 Identifying the Elected/Appointed Officials in Your Community
2.2 Activism and Advocacy
2.3 Building and Maintaining Coalitions
2.4 Political Social Work in the Workplace
2.5 Planning, Organizing, and Funding a Campaign
2.6 Identity, Messaging, Voter Contact & Targeting
2.7 Branding
2.8 Public Discourse
2.9 Reaching Your Audience: A Data Visualization Toolkit

Special Knowledge Areas for Political Social Work

This module covers important topic areas social workers should be familiar with when engaging in political social work practice, including organized labor and immigration. This module is intended to be responsive to emerging political topics relevant to social work and will be built upon and expanded in later iterations of the program.

3.1 Information Literacy: Combating "Fake News"
3.2 Political Parties
3.3 Social Work and Immigration
3.4 Environmental Justice/Climate Change
3.5 Tax Policy
3.6 Social Work and Unions


  • Allison M. Berkowitz

    Allison M. Berkowitz



    Legislative Education & Action Delivers (LEAD)

  • Stephanie L. Chang

    Stephanie L. Chang

    MSW, MPP

    State Senator

    Michigan, District 1

  • Larry M. Gant

    Larry M. Gant

    PhD, MSW

    Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work, and Professor of Art and Design, School of Art and Design

    Program evaluation, social action, community-based health programs, mezzo practice and social planning; public health social work, international social work, arts-based community development, health disparities emerging from syndemic-structural interactions, e.g. HIV/AIDS, poverty, violence-related PTSD, and impoverished care access.

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