Indiana University Northwest

SWK-S516 Syllabus


Indiana University Northwest

School of Social Work




SWK S516 Social Policy Practice II:  Organizations, Communities, and Society (3 Credits)

Instructor Name: Marshelia Harris, MSW
Phone: 219.981.5630 Office – 219.718.0371 Cell

Texts and phone calls are accepted until 9:00 CST


See the **Course Guide/Schedule**for
session themes, readings, resources, and all assignment due dates.

Course Description

This course provides students with knowledge, values and cognitive skills focused on social work practice at the organizational, community, and societal levels. Social work interventions at these levels include involvement of relevant stakeholders in the development and/or modification of organizational community and societal policies, programs, and practices.

In the context of the Foundation curriculum and in relation to the other Social Work Practice II courses, this course is concerned with helping organizational, community and societal units to: (1) empower themselves; (2) understand dynamics and consequences of human oppression and discrimination; (3) become knowledgeable in networking skills:  (4) participate in the political process; (5) advocate for social, political and economic justice; (6) utilize and/or develop necessary resources for action; and (7) examine strategies and techniques in working with large systems’ practices, policy development, program organization, and administration tasks.  This course will focus on ways to make social units and institutions more humane and responsive to human needs.

In this course, students are required to demonstrate respect for and acceptance of the unique characteristics of diverse populations.  In social work practice, students will be prepared to complete differential assessment and intervention skills that will serve diverse populations, which include, but are not limited to, groups distinguished by race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical or mental ability, age, and national origin.  Practice content will include strategies of intervention for achieving social, political, and economic justice and for combating institutionalized forms of oppression.  The content of this course includes material on people of color, women, gay men, and lesbians.  Content includes a variety of theoretical models of community, administration and organization, with an emphasis on practical skill building.  The presentation and analysis of materials in this course will be a shared responsibility of all participants in the class.   

Course Goals and Objectives

Through active participation in the learning experiences and completion of the readings, assignments and learning projects offered throughout this seminar, learners are expected to demonstrate the ability to:

1.  Understand the dynamic interactions between people and their environments at the organizational, community and societal levels.

2.  Identify and analyze social work values and ethical dilemmas as they relate to theories and interventions at the organizational, community and societal levels.

3.  Identify the impact of oppression on communities, organizations and society and apply strengths-based and empowerment models to advance social and economic justice.

4.  Demonstrate skills in cultural competence for practice at the organizational, community and societal levels.

5.  Understand and analyze various theories and models about the structure and functioning of communities and organizations.

6.  Understand and apply the problem-solving process for intervention at the organizational, community and societal levels.

7.  Identify and demonstrate skills in community development utilizing assets-based and capacity-building strategies.

8.  Identify the measures of accountability that an organization and its staff members have to its clients, trustees, funders, regulatory bodies, and other organizations.

9.  Demonstrate basic skills in the use of technologies in community and organizational practice that are congruent with social work values and ethics.

Course Materials

Required Text

Netting, F. E, Kettner, P. M., McMurtry, S. L., Thomas, M. L. (2012).  Social work macro practice (5th ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Additional readings may be added throughout the course to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of macro practice.          

Recommended Resources

American Psychological Association (2001).  Publication manual of the American

             psychological association (sixth edition).  Washington, DC: Author.

Edwards, R. L., (1995).  Encyclopedia of social work (19th edition).  Washington, DC:

             National Association of Social Workers.

A variety of internet websites and resources may also be helpful in completing assignments. 


Recommended Websites:

The Community Toolbox:

The Non Profit Resource Center:



Institute for Research on Poverty:

The Polis Center/SAVI – Information for Communities:


Grading Information

Detailed descriptions of assignments are available below and from the assignment links in the chart. Due dates are detailed in the Course Schedule.

Grading will be assigned based on the following point scale with a total of 305 points:



Earned Points

Quizzes – 3 total

10 points each (10 X 3) = 30

Discussion Posts

5 points each (10 X 5) = 50

Response to Posts

3 points each (10 X 3) = 30


10 points each (10 X 10) = 100

Group Debate

10 points

Community Group Analysis

Community Group Reference Page

20 points

  5 points

Mid-term Working Hypothesis

20 points

Macro Change Effect Proposal               

30 points

Scholarly and Professional Participation

  5 points

Total Possible Points

300 points

For all assignments APA must be used, including in-text references and web citations.  Works consulted but not used in the paper may be listed in a separate supplemental bibliography if desired.  Please provide complete citations. 


Additional resources: 


APA manuals are available at the bookstore and would be a valuable resource in your library.  Also see

An online guide for electronic reference citation is available at:

Electronic Reference Formats Recommended by the American Psychological

Association (2007):



Class Policies Regarding Graded Work

**The following policies are in effect for all individual deliverables throughout the semester, unless noted otherwise. **

***Late Work***


Late assignments require the permission of the instructor and will result in a 5 point per day deduction until the assignment is received. Discussion forum activities will require your timely participation. Missing a full week of discussion will result in a ½ grade deduction from your final grade.



Policy on Incomplete:

The grade of Incomplete used on the final grade report indicates that a substantial portion of the course work has been satisfactorily but not entirely completed as of the end of the semester. The grade of Incomplete may be given only when the completed portion of the student's work in the course is of passing quality. Instructors may award the grade of Incomplete upon a showing of such hardship to a student as would render it unjust to hold the student to the time limits previously established for the completion of his or her work. Should the faculty member agree to assign a grade of Incomplete, he or she also has the right to set a specific date (up to one year) by which all unfinished work must be completed. For the complete policy please go to

Attendance, Late assignments and Make-up exams:

Students who miss 2 or more classes can expect to drop one letter grade in the course and subsequent absences will result in additional loss of points. Make-up assignments will be given only in cases of extreme and verifiable hardship. Consult the instructor if you are having problems impacting the likelihood of success in this course. Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date posted in the syllabus. Assignments turned in late will result in a loss of 5 points per day, starting after class begins on the due date posted in the syllabus. 

Extra Credit: There are no extra credit assignments or tasks unless listed in the syllabus. No rewrites of previously evaluated material are accepted except by special permission of the instructor.

NOTE: The instructor will keep students apprised of assignment grades via the online class Grade book. Students are responsible for contacting the instructor if a grade has not been received within 10 days after the assignment submission date.


Course Requirements

Participation is heavily weighted in this class and critical for your online learning experience. This class requires you to be active in the site by logging on at least 3 times per week to check for directions, changes to assignments, post responses or to get questions answered.

It is suggested you schedule your online time in the same way you would when attending class in the classroom. You will need to time to complete the weekly assignments, to read posts from your classmates and to post your responses.


Discussion Questions

Answers to discussion questions should be in the range of 100 words. You should post an initial response to a discussion question by Wednesday of each week in order to meet the required deadlines and to avoid posting late.

You will be graded on the quality of your answers, and to a certain extent, length. Short responses to discussion questions will not earn full points. Once you meet each week’s minimum posting requirements, shorter posts to your peers or to me will be accepted.

One thing to keep in mind when you are posting in an online class is the visual aspect of the post. Since readers will be reading everything you say it is important that you break up large posts into smaller paragraphs with line breaks in between. Also, consider the size and type of font, and avoid the small fonts.

All responses to posts are due by 11:59 pm on (Saturday) of each week. You will not earn any participation points for the week after the Day 7 deadline.


Please refer to the Discussion Grading Rubric below for more guidelines and information.

Discussion Grading Rubric


Well distributed

(3 points)

Somewhat distributed

(2 points)

Not distributed

(1 or 0 points)



Response to Peers:

2 or more replies well distributed throughout the week (within 2 – 4 days).

Posts are substantive (100+ words), contribute to discussion, and are professionally presented.

1-2 replies, somewhat distributed throughout week (within1-2 days).

Posts are mostly substantive (<100 words), sometimes contribute to discussion, and are professionally presented.

1 or no replies not distributed throughout week (all posted on one day).

Posts are not substantive, may not contribute to discussion, and are not always professionally presented.



Excellent contribution

(5 points)

Good contribution

(4-3 points)


Below standard contribution

(2 or less points)

Posts to Discussion Questions / Article Readings

Clearly understands concepts and incorporates them in discussion.

Advances discussion with questions, sharing of resources, and/or personal experiences / examples.

Presentation of answer is professional looking with no grammatical or spelling errors. Text is divided into easy to read paragraphs and may have headings.

Length: 100 words or more


Somewhat understands   concepts and incorporates them in discussion

Includes examples and real life examples; may not be completely related and the question may not be completely answered.

Presentation of answer is

somewhat professional looking and has a few grammatical errors

Length: 99-51 words

Not evident concepts are understood.

Responses have little to do with concepts. Does not advance discussion.

Presentation of answer is not professional looking and has quite a few grammatical errors.

Length: 25-5 words




**All due dates are noted in the Course Guide/Schedule**


IU Academic Policies


This course is governed by IU academic policies in the following areas:

  • Grading Guidelines
  • Writing Standards
  • Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
  • Course Evaluations
  • Students With Disabilities

Grading in the MSW Program

In the Indiana University School of Social Work MSW program, grades of B are the expected norm. Reflecting competency and proficiency, grades of B reflect good or high quality work typical of graduate students in professional schools. Indeed, professors typically evaluate students’ work in such a way that B is the average grade. Grades in both the A and the C range are relatively uncommon and reflect work that is significantly superior to or significantly inferior, respectively, to the average, high quality, professional work conducted by most IU MSW students. Because of this approach to grading, students who routinely earned “A” grades in their undergraduate studies may conclude that a B grade reflects a decrease in their academic performance. Such is not the case. Grades of B in the IU MSW program reflect the average, highly competent, proficient quality of our students. In a sense, a B grade in graduate school is analogous to an A grade in undergraduate studies. MSW students must work extremely hard to achieve a B grade. If you are fortunate enough receive a B, prize it as evidence of the professional quality of your work.

Grades of A reflect Excellence. Excellent scholarly products and academic or professional performances are substantially superior to the “good,” “the high quality,” “the competent,” or the “satisfactory.” They are unusual, exceptional, and extraordinary. Criteria for assignments are not only met, they are exceeded by a significant margin. Excellence is a rare phenomenon. As a result, relatively few MSW students earn “A” grades.

Grades of B signify good or high quality scholarly products and academic or professional performance. Grades in the B range reflect work expected of a conscientious graduate student in a professional program. Criteria for assignments are met in a competent, thoughtful, and professional manner. However, the criteria are not exceeded and the quality is not substantially superior to other good quality products or performances. There is a clear distinction between the good and the excellent. We expect that most MSW students will earn grades in the B range—reflecting the good or high quality work expected of competent future helping professionals.

Grades of C and C+ signify work that is marginal in nature. The scholarly products or professional performances meet many but not all of the expected criteria. The work approaches but does not quite meet the standards of quality expected of a graduate student in a professional school. Satisfactory in many respects, its quality is not consistently so and cannot be considered of good or high quality. We anticipate that a minority of MSW students will earn C and C+ grades.

Grades of C- and lower reflect work that is unsatisfactory. The products or performances do not meet several, many, or most of the criteria. The work fails to approach the standards of quality expected of a graduate student and a future MSW-level professional. We anticipate that a small percentage of MSW students will earn unsatisfactory grades of C-,D, and F.

Grade minimums are as follows [Note: grades below “C” are Unsatisfactory in the MSW Program]:

A                                93%                 Excellent, Exceptional Quality

A-                    90%                 Superior Quality

B+                    87%                 Very Good, Slightly Higher Quality

B                      83%                Good, High Quality (expected of most MSW students)

B-                    80%                 Satisfactory Quality

C+                    77%                 Marginal, Modestly Acceptable Quality

C                      73%                 Marginal, Minimally Acceptable Quality

C-                    70%                 Unsatisfactory Quality

D+                   67%                 Unsatisfactory Quality

D                     63%                 Unsatisfactory Quality

D-                    60%                 Unsatisfactory Quality

F          <          60%                 Unsatisfactory Quality



Grading is based on Presentation, Appearance, and Organization of Information and will be graded on the following:

  • Clarity
  • Neatness
  • Correct grammar (noun-verb agreement, sentence structure, proper and consistent verb tense, etc.)
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Use of professional literature
  • Correct usage of APA style
  • Conceptual level
  • Relevance to Social Work
  • Methodology
  • Structure and format of the paper
  • Logical sequencing and continuity of ideas
  • Clarity of expression
  • Conciseness



Professional Student Conduct: 

Students are expected to conduct themselves as professionals. Online learning requires the student to contribute to the creation of an environment that maximizes learning. Students are expected to respect the opinions and feelings of other students, instructors, and guest speakers even though they differ from their own.  


Plagiarism and Cheating:  

The School of Social Work follows the Indiana University Policy on Plagiarism that states:

Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else’s work, including the work of other students, as one’s own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is common knowledge. What is considered “common knowledge” may differ from course to course.

  1. A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, opinions, theories, formulas, graphics, or pictures of another person without acknowledgment.
  2. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge indebtedness whenever:
  1. Directly quoting another person’s actual words, whether oral or written;
  2. Using another person’s ideas, opinions, or theories;
  3. Paraphrasing the words, ideas, opinions, or theories of others, whether oral or written;
  4. Borrowing facts, statistics, or illustrative material; or
  5. Offering materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment.

Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct for Indiana University located at

IU School of Social Work Addendum to Indiana University Policy on Plagiarism

In addition to the university statement on plagiarism that is published in the IU Student Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, the IU School of Social Work defines plagiarism as including:

  • The intentional or unintentional use of information from another person without full acknowledgment. Such use, even when unintended, causes the work to appear to be the student’s own work and thus the student, not the original author, benefits from the omission of proper acknowledgment.
  • Copying or using information from web sites without appropriately documenting the internet source.
  • Buying or using a document written by another person or student.
  • Submitting any part of the student’s own work which has been previously submitted, unless one’s own prior work is fully acknowledged and appropriately cited.

To avoid plagiarism, credit sources whenever you use someone else’s language or ideas. Such crediting must be detailed and specific. Simply including a literature citation in your list of reference is insufficient. Rather, you must specifically acknowledge a source each time you use the source, paragraph-by-paragraph, even sentence-by-sentence if necessary. See the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th Edition) for guidelines for in-text references.

Passing Grade for the Course:

In accordance with the Indiana University School of Social Work grading policy, students must earn at least a “C” to pass this course.

Course Evaluation:  

A formal evaluation of the course and its instructor will be completed at the end of the course consistent with the School’s academic policy.


Americans with Disabilities Act Policies

In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term.  This should be discussed with the instructor within the first three (3) weeks of class.  Adaptations of teaching methods and class materials, including text and reading materials or testing, will be made as needed to provide equitable participation.

Mental Health Resource:

During the semester, if you find that life stressors are interfering with your academic or personal success, consider contacting the Counseling Center for assistance.

Additional Information


The home page of Oncourse has links, video tutorials and several tips and updates to help you navigate the website. IU has prepared a reference page containing links to information about a variety of resources to help you function successfully in your online Oncourse class.

Right to Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities

Indiana University is committed to creating a learning environment and academic community that promotes educational opportunities for all individuals, including those with disabilities. Course directors are asked to make reasonable accommodations, upon request by the student or the university, for such disabilities. It is the responsibility of students with documented physical or learning disabilities seeking accommodation to notify their course directors and the relevant campus office that deals with such cases in a timely manner concerning the need for such accommodation. Indiana University will make reasonable accommodations for access to programs, services, and facilities as outlined by applicable state and federal laws.

Campus support office:

Student Support Services, HH 239, (219) 980-6798
Student Support Services

Weekly Assignments

Every week you will have weekly tasks to complete and these are listed in Oncourse under the Modules tab.  The assignments are meant to be practical and are related to the assigned readings. The modules can be downloaded/printed for your review. Please use the weekly course guide schedule to cross reference the assignments and due date.

Please label each assignment with your last name and submit via Drop Box in Oncourse.



Each week your grades will be posted in the Grade Book within 5 days of the week’s end. So, Week 1 ends on a Sunday, so expect the grade to be loaded and checkmarks from assignments visible by Friday of Week 2.

Need Help?


If additional help is needed to assist you with your online learning, please refer to Student Resources for additional tips and instructions on how to navigate online, and to the IUTS Knowledge Base for videos and tutorials on Oncourse @

Please remember to send all general questions and comments to me via the virtual office in Forums. Remember this site is open to the entire class, so questions should be something that all can see and comment on.

If you need to submit a personal or confidential question, please send it via Messages in Oncourse for confidentiality. I will make myself available as much as possible to answer your questions and will try to respond within 24 hours. However, there are times when I will not be available due to teaching another class. Please send questions via Messages or the Virtual office.  You may also call or text me at 219.718.0371 if an emergency situation occurs.  Please do not call or text after 9:00 pm.



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Chambers, D. E. (2008). Social policy and social programs: A method for the practical public policy analyst (5th ed.). Boston, CT: Allyn and Bacon.

Corey, G., Corey, M. S., & Callanan, P. (2003). Ethical issues in community work. In Issues & ethics in the helping professions (pp. 444-474). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Eichler, M. (2007). Consensus organizing: Building communities of mutual self-interest. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fabricant, M. B., Fisher, R. (2002). Settlement houses under siege: The struggle to sustain community organizations in New York city. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Fine, J. (2006). Worker centers: Organizing communities at the edge of the dream. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press/Cornell University Press.

Finn, J.L., & Jacobson, M. (2003). Just practice: A social justice approach to social work. Peosta, IA: Eddie Bowers Publishing.

Fisher, R. (2009). Why study community organizing & ACORN? Social Policy, 39(2), 4-5.

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Rothman, J., Erlich, J.L., & Tropman, J.E. (2008). Strategies of community intervention (7th ed.). Peosta, IA: Eddie Bowers Publishing.

Rubin, H.J., & Rubin, I.S. (2008). Community organizing and development (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

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