Indiana University Northwest
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Division of Social Work

Division of Social Work

Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Courses (BSW)

  • SWK-S 102 Understanding Diversity in a Pluralistic Society (3 cr.) This course covers theories and models that enhance understanding of our diverse society. It provides content about differences and similarities in the experiences, needs, and beliefs of selected minority groups and their relation to the majority group. These groups include, but are not limited to, people of color, women, gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons. This course analyzes the interrelationship of race, class, age, ethnicity, and gender and how these factors influence the social values regarding economic and social justice. (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 141 Introduction to Social Work (3 cr.) This course is an introduction to the profession of social work and the philosophical, societal, and organizational contexts within which professional social work activities are conducted.  It introduces the knowledge, skills and values of social work as a profession and explores the role of social workers within the broad area of social welfare and social services.  Cognitive and interaction skills necessary for competent practice are introduced in this course as is the value base of social work practice and its commitment to social and economic justice.   (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 221 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I: Individual Functioning (3 cr.) P: S 141 or consent of the instructor. This course builds a foundation for understanding human behavior and development in diverse contexts across the life course. The course emphasizes the interdependence of dynamic interactions between a person and that individual’s environment, and thus explores the influences of the biological, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual dimensions on individual human development and behavior. (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 251 Emergence of Social Services (3 cr.) P: S 141 or consent of the instructor. This course is designed to provide a historical perspective on social Welfare policies and programs and to develop beginning policy analysis skills to identify gaps in the service delivery system  and inequitable or oppressive aspects of current policy delivery.   Knowledge of the social, political, ideological, and economic contexts of social welfare policies and programs over time is presented. A particular emphasis in this course is the impact of social welfare policies on vulnerable people and advocating for social and economic justice. (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 305 Introduction to Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (3 cr.) This course is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to child abuse and neglect from psychological, social, cultural, legal, and economic perspectives. This course introduces the values and ethics of the social work profession in the child welfare arena, specifically the right of children to appropriate care, to be free of abuse and neglect, and to grow up in a safe environment. (Spring)
  • SWK-S 306 Crisis Intervention (3 cr.) This course focuses on the increasing number of complex and painful personal, couple, family and community crisis situations encountered by social workers in the course of service delivery.
  • SWK-S 322 Human Behavior and Social Environment II: Small Group Functioning (3 cr.) P: S 221. The course examines the significance of the small group as both the context and  means for social development of  individuals and as a vehicle for generalist practice. The course covers group theories as well as mezzo practice strategies.  This course focuses on group dynamics and practice, with an emphasis on the small group.  In addition, the course is designed to enhance students' effectiveness for group participation and leadership. (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 331 Generalist Social Work Practice I: Theory and Skills (3 cr.) P or C: S 221.  This course focuses primarily on the application of basic generalist social work skills that demonstrate an understanding and application of the continuum of social work practice in the helping relationship. The course focuses on the beginning phase of the problem-solving process and related skills using a range of perspectives including strengths, empowerment and person-in-environment perspectives.  Topics include the nature of the helping relationship, NASW Code of Ethics, practice as it relates to oppressed groups, assessment, and practice evaluations. (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 332 Generalist Social Work Practice II: Theory and Skills (3 cr.) P: S 231, S 251. P or C: S 352. C: S 381. Examination of middle and ending phases of the helping process and related skills. Topics include the helping relationship with various client system sizes, impact of agency policies and procedures upon practice and resolution of clients’ challenges, and practice evaluation. (Spring, Summer II)
  • SWK-S 352 Social Service Delivery Systems (3 cr.) P: S 251. This second course in social welfare policy builds on S251 by exploring in depth the current social welfare delivery system at local, regional, and national levels through policy analysis using a variety of frameworks and developing policy practice skills.  The course also develops beginning policy practice skills that facilitates social change congruent with social work ethics and the profession’s commitment to social and economic justice.  (Fall, Spring)
  • SWK-S 371 Social Work Research (3 cr.) Examination of basic research methods in social work, the relevance of research for social work practice, and selection of knowledge for use in social work.  This is the first course in research which provides basic knowledge about research methodology as it applies to social work.  Introduces and develops skills needed to conceptualize a problem, make use of available literature, design a research strategy, evaluate, organize, and  integrate relevant data (both existing and new), derive useful solutions based on knowledge, and communicate those solutions to clients and colleagues.(Spring)
  • SWK-S 401 Integrative Field Practicum Seminar  I (2 cr)) P:  all junior level social work courses.  C: S481.  This course is designed to integrate theoretical material gained from social work practice and theory courses with the realities of practice in the field, which the student will confront and use in her/his practicum placement. This course combines an exploration of social work practice with an exploration of client situations in the environment through instructor and peer discussion.  (Fall)
  • SWK-S 402 Integrative Field Practicum Seminar II (3 cr.) P: all junior-level social work courses. C: S482  This second semester of practicum seminar provides a continuing forum for the integration of academic learning with agency-based field placement. Taken as a co-requisite with S482 Social Work Practicum II, this course provides students with educational and administrative support to synthesize knowledge from all previous social work courses and the experiential learning from field, increases communication between student, liaison, agency, and provides opportunities critical thinking in problem-solving practice challenges, utilizing collaborative conferencing with peers, and transitioning from student to social work practitioner. The seminar includes discussions on selected topics and issues related to the learning experiences in the field (both instructor- and student-initiated) with emphasis on student demonstration of core competencies for generalist social work practice.  (Spring)
  • SWK-S 423 Organizational Theory and Practice within a Generalist Perspective (3 cr.) P: all junior-level social work courses. This course provides the theoretical and conceptual foundation for understanding organizational functioning and behavior, and introduces the knowledge and skills necessary for generalist social work practice and leadership within an organizational context. (Fall)
  • SWK-S 433 Community Behavior and Practice (3 cr.) P: all junior-level social work courses. P or C: S 472, S 482, S402. This course provides the theoretical foundation about community functioning and behavior and the knowledge and skills of community interventions geared to mitigate social, political and economic injustice and bring social change. (Spring)
  • SWK-S 442 Practice-Policy Seminar in Fields of Practice (3 cr.) P: all junior-level social work courses.  Addresses practice and policy issues in a specific fields of practice such as child and family, aging, addictions, and developmental disabilities. (Fall)
  • SWK S 460 Scholarly Writing Seminar (4 cr.) This course prepares BSW/MSW students to successfully complete scholarly writing tasks. Topics addressed include expectations and standards for scholarly writing, conducting searches of professional literature, using effective paraphrasing and summarization skills, writing logically and coherently, and appropriately citing references adhering to APA format. The course is intended to support students’ efforts on writing tasks assigned in future courses. (Summer)
  • SWK-S 472 Practice Evaluation (3 cr.) P: S 371 and all other junior-level social work courses. P or C: S 402, S 433, S 482. Develops the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate one’s own practice and the effectiveness of social service programs within which one works, as well as to become critical consumers of the professional literature to guide their practice. (Spring)
  • SWK-S 481 Social Work Practicum I (4 cr.) P: All junior level social work courses. C: S 401, P or C: S 423, S 442.  Guided field practice experience (18 hours per week) for application of generalist practice concepts and principles and development of basic practice skills. Students practice in a human service organization for a minimum of 280 clock hours, including a seminar. (Fall)
  • SWK-S 482 Social Work Practicum II (4 cr.) P: all junior-level social work courses. C: S 402, P or C: S 433, S 472. Guided field experience (18-20 hours per week) for application of concepts and principles and development of skills for generalist practice with selected social systems. Students practice in a human-service organization for a minimum of 280 clock hours of supervised field experience. (Spring)
  • SWK-S 490 Independent Study (1-6 cr.) P: permission of program administrator. An opportunity to engage in a self-directed study of an area related to the school’s curriculum in which no formal course is available.

Graduate Courses (MSW)

  • SWK–S 501 Professional Social Work at the Masters Level: An Immersion (3 cr.) This foundation course provides an overview of social work including the definition, scope, history, ethics and values of the profession. This course will provide basic orientation to the available resources and expectations of graduate education in general, and the MSW program, in particular, within the framework of the adult learner model. Students will develop basic communication, self-assessment, and reflection skills necessary for success in the MSW program. Students will have an opportunity to survey various fields of practice and will begin to identify personal learning goals for their MSW education as well as develop a commitment to lifelong learning as a part of professional practice. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 502 Research I (3 cr.) P: S 501. This foundation research course assists students in developing the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of social work practice. Emphasis is placed upon knowledge of qualitative and quantitative designs, methodologies, and techniques that inform students of best practices in social work. Students will recognize the impact of ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation on the research process and be able to critically review published studies with attention to researcher bias. (Spring)
  • SWK–S 503 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I (3 cr.) P or C: S 501.  This course provides content on the reciprocal relationships between human behavior and social environments. It includes empirically based theories and knowledge that focus on the interactions between and within diverse populations of individuals, groups, organizations, societal institutions, and global systems. Knowledge of biological, psychological, sociological, cultural, and spiritual development across the life span is included. Students will learn to critically analyze micro and macro theories and explore ways in which theories can be used to structure professional activities. Concepts such as person-in-environment are used to examine the ways in which social systems promote or deter human well being social and economic justice. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 504 Professional Practice Skills I (3 cr.) This foundation course offers components of generalist practice theory, skills, and principles necessary for generalist practice with varied populations and client systems (individuals, families, small groups, communities, and organizations). The course introduces and prepares students for competent social work practice through the examination of personal values, professional ethics, and personal demonstration of essential practice skills (beginning, attending, establishing rapport, reflecting summarizing, exploring, questioning, contracting, and establishing clear and well-formed goals) that will serve diverse populations with specific attention to gender, sexual orientation, class, race and ethnicity.  (Spring)
  • SWK–S 505 Social Policy Analysis and Practice (3 cr.) This course examines the processes that influence the development of social policy and social services. Included are legislative and political processes, models of policy analysis, service delivery and policy implementation. Social workers utilize knowledge and skills to carry out roles and functions critical for practice. Such knowledge and skills include the application of social policy analysis, the legislative process, the role and impact of politics and political choice on the quality of life of people, and the effect of economic-social policy decision and judicial actions on social services. In addition, the course examines the variability of the common and uncommon attributes of service delivery systems. Effects of these on people are considered from global, political, economic and social policy perspectives.  (Summer I)
  • SWK–S 513 Human Behavior in the Social Environment II (3 cr.) P: S 503. This course builds upon S503 (HBSE I) and focuses on developing further knowledge of human behavior theories and their application to practice. Students will link course content to the concentration that the student has selected. This course builds upon S503 and focuses on developing further knowledge of human behavior theories and their application to practice. Students will link course content to the concentration that the student has selected.  (Summer II)
  • SWK- S 514 Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups I P: S 504, S 517. This course builds on the practice theories, principles, and skills introduced, S504 to prepare students for competent social work practice with individuals and families and groups. A strengths perspective will be emphasized, and students will be introduced to the fundamental components of the task-centered and solution-focused approaches to practice. The transtheoretical model of change will be presented, and students will develop skills to engage clients in the process of change. and students will develop skills that will empower individuals and families and groups to engage in the process of change. Students will be prepared to complete assessments and to use intervention skills that will serve diverse populations with specific attention to gender, sexual orientation, class, race and ethnicity. (Spring)
  • SWK–S 516 Social Work Macro Practice Practice with Organizations, Communities, and Societies II (3 cr.)  P: S 501, S 503, S 504, S 505.  This course provides students with knowledge, values and cognitive skills focused on social work practice at organizational, community and societal levels.  Social work interventions at these levels include involvement of relevant stakeholders in the development and/or modifications of organizational, community and societal policies, programs and practices.  .  This course will focus on ways to make social units and institutions more humane and responsive to human needs. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 517 Assessment in Mental Health and Addictions (3 cr.) P: S 513.  Recognizing the social, political, legal, and ethical implications of assessment, students will critically examine various conceptual frameworks and apply bio-psychosocial and strengths perspectives to understand its multidimensional aspects. Students learn to conduct sophisticated mental status and lethality risk interviews, engage in strengths and assets discovery, and apply the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association and other classification schemes in formulating assessment hypotheses. They gain an understanding of the application of several relevant assessment instruments and learn to evaluate their relevance for service to at- risk populations, including persons affected by mental health and addictions issues. Students learn to collaborate with a diverse range of consumers and other professionals in developing meaningful assessments upon which to plan goals, intervention strategies, and means for evaluation. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 555 Social Work Practicum I (3 cr.)  P:  All foundation courses, S 513, S 516, and S 517. The M.S.W. Social Work Practicum I is an educationally directed practice experience under the direct supervision of an approved field instructor.  The assigned faculty liaison oversees the practicum to ensure that course objectives have been met.  The practicum provides opportunities for the application and the integration of classroom concepts and principles for the development of core skills in generalist social work practice with selected social systems using a strengths perspective.  It builds upon the knowledge and skills learned and developed during the immersion and intermediate course work of the program. Learning opportunities emphasize the values and ethics of the profession, foster the integration of the empirical and practice-based knowledge, and promote the development of the professional competence.  Field education is systematically designed, supervised coordinated, and evaluated on the basis of criteria by which students demonstrate the achievement of program objectives.  The Field Practice Seminar is designed to assist students in integrating classroom learning with the experience of an internship.  Students will also be introduced to assessment systems including the DSM and SWOT.  The seminar provides a supportive setting for students to discuss practice issues raised in the field placement related to their Learning Agreement and field experience.  This involves recognizing/exploring professional and personal biases, discussing ethical dilemmas and supervisory issues, and increasing cross cultural competencies.
  • SWK–S 616 Social Work Practice in Schools (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. This advanced level practice course is designed to provide students with an overview of contemporary social work practice in school settings. Specific topical areas include the historical and contemporary contexts of social work service in school settings, legal mandates for social work practice in schools, social policies and trends in education affecting school settings and social work practice in schools, preventive and intervention methods and roles applicable to diverse populations in school settings, research issues and practice effectiveness, and multiculturalism and diversity issues in social work practice in schools.
  • SWK–S 618 Social Policy and Services II: Schools (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses.  This course is designed to provide students with an intensive study of the relationship of social work values and ethics to social policies and school service delivery systems. Areas explored include learning about values and ethics in regards to role as  "social policy practitioner",  political and organizational processes used to influence policy and delivery systems, and practice of policy in school systems to assist students in the maintenance or attainment of optimal health, social well-being and economic justice.
  • SWK–S 618 Social Policy and Services II:   Mental Health and Addictions (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses.  The purpose of this course is to provide intensive study of a specific service delivery system and to provide an opportunity for synthesis and application of learning and practice of policy in that system.  The content of the course will build on the values of the profession and focus on the role of the "social policy practitioner" in assisting individuals in the maintenance or attainment of optimal health, social and economic justice, and social well being.  This course examines the relationship of social work values and ethics to social policies and service delivery systems especially as they relate to oppressed.
  • SWK–S 618 Social Policy and Services II: Health (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses.  The purpose of this course is to provide intensive study of a specific service delivery system and to provide an opportunity for synthesis and application of learning and practice of policy in that system.  The content of the course will build on the values of the profession and focus on the role of the “social policy practitioner” in assisting individuals in the maintenance or attainment of optimal health, social justice, and social well-being.  This course examines the relationship of social work values and ethics to social policies and service delivery systems especially as they relate to oppressed populations and discrimination.  Opportunities for students will be encouraged for direct involvement in political and organizational processes used to influence policy and delivery systems.  (Summer I)
  • SWK–S 619 Social Work Practice with Children and Adolescents (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. This course is designed to develop and broaden student knowledge and skill in direct practice with children and adolescents.  Social work practice will be examined within the context of meta-frameworks that include developmental stages/tasks, sexual development and orientation, gender issues, family context, culture, larger environmental systems, discrimination/oppression, and legal rights and responsibilities.  Emphasis will be placed on practice methods including assessment, interviewing, comparative treatment models, and practice with special populations. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 623 Practice Research Integrative Seminar I (3 cr.)  P: All 500 level social work courses. This course furthers the knowledge, skills, and values students develop in the foundation-year research course.  Students will apply their knowledge and skills in research to evaluate practice or program effectiveness in their concentrations, using research methods that are sensitive to consumers' needs and clients' race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and additional aspects important to effective and ethical research. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 632 Child Welfare Practice I: Working with Children Impacted by Violence in the Family (3 cr.)  P: All 500 level social work courses. This course is designed to provide practice skills for students working with children and families impacted by abuse, neglect or family violence. The course is designed to cover the scope, causes, and consequences of child physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect and applications of this knowledge in a wide range of settings that deal with children and families as well as formal child protection services. Students will learn about the dynamics and indicators of maltreatments, etiology of child abuse and neglect, assessing risk, the continuum of intervention from prevention through intervention and future planning, out-of-home placement considerations, and the issues impacting particular oppressed and underserved populations. The focus of this course will be on how to work effectively with clients to achieve goals of safety, permanency and well-being. (Spring)
  • SWK–S 651 MSW Concentration Practicum II (4 cr.) P: S  555. This course along with S 652 provides an in-depth practicum experience for M.S.W. concentration students.  Students complete both courses in the same agency/organization under practice supervision of an approved agency field instructor and academic guidance of a faculty liaison.  The practicum experience builds upon the more generalist-focused Intermediate Practicum I (SWK S 555) and deepens the integration and application of social work knowledge, values, and skills for advanced practice in the student’s area of concentration.  Students engage in these advanced practicum courses while enrolled in concentration required courses.  Students spend a minimum of 320 hours providing concentration related services that allows students an opportunity to engage in experiences that support mastery of all ten core competencies as operationalized by advanced practice behaviors. (Fall, Summer I)
  • SWK–S 652 MSW Concentration Practicum III (5 cr.) P or C: S 651. This course along with S 651 provides an in-depth practicum experience for M.S.W. concentration students. Students complete both courses in the same agency/organization under practice supervision of an approved agency field instructor and academic guidance of a faculty liaison.  The practicum experience builds upon the more generalist-focused Intermediate Practicum I (SWK S 555) and S 651 Practicum II) and deepens the integration and application of social work knowledge, values, and skills for advanced practice in the student’s area of concentration.  Students engage in these advanced practicum courses while enrolled in concentration required courses.  Students spend a minimum of 320 hours providing concentration related services that allows students an opportunity to engage in experiences that support mastery of all ten core competencies as operationalized by advanced practice behaviors.
  • SWK–S 661 Executive Leadership Practice (3 cr.) P: All 600 level courses. This course addresses administrative, management, leadership, and supervisory skills necessary for leadership practice. Included are staff hiring, supervision, evaluation, and termination; working with boards and volunteers, leadership styles, strategic planning, and current best practices in administration. (Summer I)
  • SWK–S 683 Community-Based Practice in Mental Health/ Addiction (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. This course examines a wide range of community-based services provided for people with severe mental illness and/or severe addiction problems. Special attention will be given to strength-based, client-driven, and evidence-based practice models. Content will include community- based services in areas of case management, employment, housing, illness management, family, dual disorder treatment, and consumer self-help. Students also examine a variety of issues involved in the provision of community-based services such as ethical and legal issues, quality and continuity of care, cultural competency, organizational and financial factors, and other relevant policy and practice issues.
  • SWK–S 685 Mental Health and Addictions Practice with Individuals and Families (3 cr.)  P: All 500 level social work courses. This course focuses on the development of knowledge, values and ethics, skills, and judgment necessary for competent application of selected evidence-based, best practice approaches for service for children, youth, adults, and families affected by mental health and addictions issues.  Students explore topics such as risk and resilience, recovery, and relapse prevention, and consider implications of current social and policy factors affecting service delivery to persons affected by mental health and addictions issues.  Students learn to discover, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate evidence of practice effectiveness and apply that knowledge in communication, strengths discovery and assessment, hypothesis formation, contracting, intervention and prevention planning, service delivery, and evaluation.  Students develop professional understanding and expertise in the application of at least one evidence-based approach for service to individuals and families affected by at least one specific mental health or addictions issues. (Summer II)
  • SWK–S 686 Social Work Practice: Addictions (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. The purpose of this course is to provide learners with knowledge and skills relevant to various aspects of social work practice in prevention, intervention, and treatment of selected addictions. Students draw upon previous and concurrent learning experiences and integrate values, knowledge, and skills acquired in other social work courses with the values, knowledge, and skills characteristic of addictions practice. The course assists students to develop a multidimensional understanding of prevention, intervention, and treat­ment needs of diverse populations and associated social work practice principles, methods, and skills. Students explore the relationships between and among addiction and socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental ability, and other socio-environmental factors of vulnerability. Consistent with strengths and ecosystems perspectives, students consider the impact of social environments, physical settings, community contexts, and political realities that support or inhibit the emergence of addiction problems. (Spring)
  • SWK–S 687 Mental Health and Addictions Practice with Groups (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. Students enrolled in this course develop professional knowledge and skills for group work services to persons affected by mental health and addictions issues.  The phases of group development and intervention during the various group work stages provide a conceptual framework for the course experience.  Students learn to serve children, youth, adults, and families in groups that are therapeutic, growth producing, and life enhancing.  Students examine a number of theoretical perspectives, including cognitive behavioral, communications, behavioral, and interpersonal approaches.(Spring)
  • SWK–S 690 Independent Study (1–6 cr.) An opportunity to engage in a self-directed study of an area related to the school's curriculum in which no formal course is available.  (In order to enroll in S690, approval from an academic advisor and the director of the M.S.W. program is required).
  • SWK–S 692 Health Care Practice I (3 cr.)  P: All 500 level social work courses. This course focuses on the role of the social worker in a health care setting.  Issues such as team building, professional identity, patient advocacy, ethics, and managed care will be addressed.  Also, the impact of health care payment sources and health care choices for patients will be explored. (Fall)
  • SWK–S 693 Health Care Practice II (3 cr.) P: All 500 level social work courses. This course examines the impact of illnesses from the medical, environmental and psychosocial perspectives.  Areas such as coping with chronic illness, caregiver stress, grieving and loss, medical ethics, and violence as a health care issue will be examined.  The needs of at-risk populations (i.e. children, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, frail elderly, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, etc.) are also examined.  This course prepares students to be professional social workers in various healthcare agencies and organizations. (Spring)
  • SWK–S 694 Social Work Practice with Older Adults (3 cr.)  P : All 500 level social work courses.The purpose of this course is to provide health practice concentration students with increased depth of knowledge in the area of practice with older adults in healthcare areas, such as acute care hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, adult day care and long-term care facilities.  Effective social work practice relies on knowledge and application of evidence-based theories assessment, and interventions with this population.   Older adults are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, and advances in technology have enhanced longevity.   This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to engage in competent social work practice with older adults. (occasionally)
  • SWK S-696   Confronting Loss, Grief, Death and Bereavement (3 cr.) P : All 500 level social work courses.  This is an issue-oriented, social work course on the policy and practice issues in loss, grief, death, and dying across the life span for diverse populations.  The major educational goal is to evaluate and understand the many problems and key resources relevant to social work practice with persons encountering grief, loss, death and bereavement in the context of health care settings.  Students will attain knowledge, values and skills to meet the demands for entry level practice with clients (and their families) encountering chronic or terminal illness. (Summer II)