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Community & Social Systems

This practice area prepares students to work in settings that include grassroots, neighborhood, and faith-based organizations; federal and state legislative and political bodies and offices; local and international community development operations; and educational and socialization organizations. Practicing in this field involves working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to influence laws, legislation, and policies.

Program Details

Students selecting community and social systems are required to complete the following courses, each worth three credit-hours:

Additionally, students selecting community and social systems are required to complete one of the following courses, each worth three credit-hours:

Student Profile

Brianna Henderson, MSW '16

  • Practice Method Concentration:
    Community Organization
  • Practice Area:
    Community and Social Systems

Brianna Henderson wants to work in communities to root out the larger issues that cause people to go without food. She’s passionate about creating stronger local food systems that provide healthy, affordable, culturally-appropriate and sustainable food. “I want to make sure that the people who need food actually receive it and that the food they receive is healthy.”

A first-generation college student from Indiana, Henderson chose the MSW program at U-M because it was one of the few schools she was interested in that offered the Community Organizing concentration. She wants to work directly with the people affected by food issues to help them develop solutions that work for their community.

One way Henderson seeks to improve local food systems is by establishing community gardens.“Community gardens provide fresh, healthy produce to residents, along with exercise, opportunities for socializing, and a sense of communal purpose. This is where my work is headed.”

Henderson is a Rosemary Sarri Scholarship recipient. “The financial burden of attending graduate school is quite large. It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. The Sarri Scholarship was created with the kind of community work that I want to do in mind, and it’s one thing that allows me peace of mind about being in graduate school. I’m a first-generation college student, so this is a very big thing for me and my family.”

The financial burden of attending graduate school is quite large. It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. The Sarri Scholarship was created with the kind of community and policy work that I want to do in mind, and it’s one thing that allows me peace of mind about being in graduate school. I’m a first-generation college student, so this is a very big thing for me and my family.

Henderson is also passionate about advocating for change on a broader level. She gained experience in state-level advocacy work as an undergraduate student, lobbying at the Indiana senate to raise the minimum wage to $15.

“I believe it’s important to speak up when something isn’t right. For me, community work includes being an advocate and directing my efforts toward effecting legislative change that benefits people’s lives. I intend to push for policies that increase access to healthy food. An example of this is state funding that helps bring full-service grocery stores to areas that don’t have them, or have only convenience stores that don’t sell fresh produce and other healthy food choices. Better policies are crucial in the fight against hunger. ”

 

Faculty

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  • Stanley E. Althof

    PhD
    Emeritus Member, Advisory Board of the Sexual Health Certificate Program
  • M. Antonio G. Alvarez

    LEO Lecturer II
    School social work, adventure based practice, child welfare, community-based interventions, bullying and suicide prevention and intervention, international social work, and practice with indigenous/immigrant populations.
  • Nancy R. Barbas

    MD, MSW
    Associate Professor and Director of the Cognitive Disorders Clinic
    Department of Neurology, University of Michigan Health System
    Cognitive disorders in adults including Alzheimer' disease and other dementias, geriatric neurology and general neurology.
  • Michelle Barclay

    President and Co-Founder
    The Barclay Group, LLC,
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