The Global Social Work Pathway is for those social work students interested in dedicating themselves to global issues. The pathway addresses topics, such as migration, displacement, poverty, climate change, indigeneity, etc. from a perspective that recognizes an imbalance of power and cultural differences within a global context.
Students will engage with culturally diverse communities, domestically and abroad; they will become part of a global community of social workers who use their knowledge, skills, and values to work with communities in promoting social change, empowerment and supporting the liberation of people.
Students will develop a critical understanding of how their own assumptions, values, biases, positionalities (gender expression, age, race/ethnicity, etc.) affect their practice of global social work. Students will examine issues of power, privilege, oppression, social justice, and the processes and impact of the global capitalist project - acts of war, colonization, extraction, international aid and development, and democratization.
Implications for global social work policy and practice will be explored by evaluating programs and policies, co-developing training with agencies in international settings, advocating and organizing in collaboration with diverse communities, and by participating in field-based projects, global independent studies, and courses and lectures by local and international experts, community leaders and practitioners.
Students interested in pursuing social work clinical licensure in the United States of America are recommended to select a primary pathway that focuses on direct, interpersonal practice such as 1) Interpersonal Practice in Integrated Health, Mental Health, & Substance Abuse, 2) Welfare of Children and Families, or 3) Social Work Practice with Older Adults and Families from a Lifespan Perspective and the Global Social Work Practice pathway as their secondary pathway.
For more information on licensure, please visit the Professional Licensing and Exam Preparation website.
Examples of career (job) titles and positions relevant to this pathway include but are not limited to:
Types of agencies and settings where students in this pathway may engage in field learning:
Global field placements offer students who are committed to global social work in the Advanced Standing, MasterTrack MSW, or out-of-sequence, 16-month curriculum track the opportunity to complete a spring/summer field placement in a global location. The Office of Global Activities also works with the Office of Field Education to provide domestic field placements that address cross-cultural and global social work issues. If you are interested in a field placement outside the U.S., please make sure to reach out to the Office of Global Activities by emailing email@example.com.
Learn more about global field placements »
The global independent study option offers students in all curriculum tracks the opportunity to work with a social work faculty sponsor to develop a project to explore or research a particular social work issue in a global context. Travel occurs during the spring/summer term.
Learn more about global independent study »
The Masters International Volunteer Program offers 20-month and advance standing students in any practice area or concentration the opportunity to incorporate 27 months of Peace Corps service into their MSW program. The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program provides Returned Peace Corps Volunteers the opportunity to earn a Master in Social Work at the University of Michigan.
Please see course planning worksheets for a full list of courses associated with this pathway.
Students enrolled in the Global Social Work Practice pathway may take language courses to fulfill 3 credits of the Global Social Work Practice Pathway Required Electives (SWrGL). If you want to use a language course toward the SWrGL requirement, you will need to fill out a course substitution to receive approval. In the "Rationale for Substitution" box you should reference this page. SSW students may apply up to 4 graduate-level language credits toward their MSW degree.
For other courses that can meet the pathway elective requirement, please see the Outside Courses tab.
Please make sure to read the Graduate Credit for Language Courses page in its entirety for important information about how language credits are applied towards the MSW degree.
Language courses can be taken at the undergraduate or graduate level through the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) and its various language and culture departments or the Residential College. A list of languages offered at U-M through LSA and their affiliated departments is included here for your reference. To view a list of associated course numbers please refer to the LSA Language Requirement webpage.
If you are interested in further developing language skills but not necessarily for credit, or if the language you are interested in developing is not offered through a U-M department, the U-M Language Resource Center provides resources to support language learners on campus, including language tutors, workshops, and access to various international print and media.
The graduate courses listed below have been taken by previous MSW students or have been identified as being of possible interest to students in this pathway and can be taken to fulfill Pathway Required Electives. On the course planning worksheet, information regarding Pathway Required Electives is included.
There are many other courses not listed below that may be of interest and may also meet the elective requirement. If you identify a pathway-related course not listed below that you want to take to meet your Pathway Required Electives (rather than simply an elective), please contact the Technical Advisors (firstname.lastname@example.org) for approval.
Interest in courses numbered below 500 should be checked for graduate-level status since many are offered for undergraduate credit only. You can check this by contacting the department offering the course or contacting the SSW registrar (email@example.com).
In addition, some courses may be restricted, require prerequisites, not be open to social work students, and/or require instructor permission. If you encounter problems registering for these courses, please contact the department offering the course. The SSW registrar will not be able to assist with registration in outside courses because these courses are not offered by the SSW.
The courses listed below are offered in various semesters. To see if a course is offered in the term you are interested please check the SSW list of outside courses, the website of the department offering the course, or the Wolverine Access Class Search page.
If you want to one of these non-School of Social Work courses to fulfill the Global Social Work Practice Pathway Required Electives (SWrGL), you will need to fill out a course substitution to receive approval. In the "Rationale for Substitution" box you should reference this page.
Please also see the note on the Language Courses tab about language courses that can be taken as Global Social Work Practice pathway electives.
University of Michigan's School of Social Work (U-M SSW) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation (COA), of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation is a system of recognizing educational programs as having a level of performance and quality that gain them the confidence of the educational community and the public. You can read more about the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards here.
At U-M SSW, each pathway has specialized competencies that describe the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that comprise the competency in each pathway area.
Social workers demonstrate the ability to apply ethical social work principles and critical thinking to products and work produced. Social workers understand the role of emotional intelligence and professional resilience in professional and ethical practice. Social workers understand the role of other professionals when engaged in interprofessional teams within their areas of specialization. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and ways that supervision and consultation can support continued development.
Social workers engage with culturally diverse communities, domestically and abroad, to promote social change, empowerment and supporting the liberation of people. Social workers work to engage diversity and difference in practice as well as work with and on behalf of constituents to challenge discrimination and work against institutionalized oppression of all forms. Social workers recognize the ways an imbalance of power and cultural differences within a global context impact individuals, communities, and societies.
Social workers respect, promote, and defend the fundamental and inalienable rights of all human beings as reflected in the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts and other human rights instruments and conventions (e.g. indivisibility, freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education). Student will identify disparities in resources and services and learn the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations. Social workers be knowledgeable about the structure, dynamics, and theories of human needs, justice, and relations of power in organizations, social service networks, and communities within a global context. Social workers apply strategies to protect all civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights and create reciprocal relationships within global communities.
Social workers understand how to critically evaluate, analyze, and apply available research, professional articles, and evidence related to social issues and interventions in their global social work practice. Social workers develop reflexive skills in research design, data analysis, and knowledge dissemination. In addition, they will learn to seek supervision, consultation, and apply self-evaluation to improve their learning and practice.
Social workers understand 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. Social workers are able to identify how current events are linked to policy issues, how to critically analyze and understand policy implications, and apply strategies to engage in policy practice that effect change and advocate for clients.
Social workers understand that engagement within, across, and on behalf of different cultural, geopolitical, socio-economic, organizational, and interpersonal settings is an ongoing component of global social work practice. They will understand the importance of reciprocal relationships within communities and the responsibilities of every human for each other and the environment.
Social workers understand the importance of assessment within global social work. Social workers learn to conduct needs assessments and plan participatory interventions with individuals, families, groups, communities, and systems of care. Social workers critically examine assessment practices to challenge bias and inequities. They will learn to develop alternative, anti-oppressive approaches that improve assessment processes.
Social workers understand the importance of interventions that promote social justice within a global context. Social workers learn skills to conduct community-engaged service plans including intake, referral, monitoring, assessment, and remediation strategies. Social workers critically examine service delivery practices and related strategies and tactics to explore bias. Social workers learn to examine, implement and assess alternative, anti-oppressive approaches.
Social workers understand the importance of evaluating and challenging practices within a global context. Social workers learn skills to conduct community-based participatory research and evaluations. Social workers critically examine research design practices and related strategies and tactics to explore bias. Social workers learn to examine, implement and assess alternative, anti-oppressive community-based participation designs.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106