Soc 420

Social Welfare Practices

Number of credits: 5

Instructor: Bill Grigsby

Course time(s): every winter term, in ’16 on MWF, 8:25-9:50 am

General Education: Does not fulfill gen-ed requirements

Catalog description: In-depth examination of concepts and issues related to specific target populations of the social welfare system.

Prerequisites: Soc 204, 205, and 315. Senior status or permission from instructor. Most recent syllabus: Winter 2019

Recent textbooks used:

  • Jessica Ritter and Halaevalue Ofahengaue Vakalahi. 2015. 101 Careers in Social Work (2nd edition). NY: Springer.
  • Linda May Grobman (editor). 2012. Days in the Lives of Social Workers (4th edition). Harrisburg, PA: White Hat Communications.
  • Susan Lukas. 1993. Where to Start and What to Ask. NY: W & W Norton.
  • Alice Lieberman and Cheryl Lester (editors). 2004. Social Work Practice with a Difference. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  • Andrew Bein. 2008. The Zen of Helping. NY: John Wiley.
  • David Wagner. 1993. Checkerboard Square: Culture and Resistance in a Homeless Community. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • David Brandon. 1976. Zen in the Art of Helping. London: Penguin.
  • Robert Putnam. 2000. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Frances F. Piven and Richard Cloward. 1993. Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Kristine Nelson and Paul Adams (editors). 1995. Reinventing Human Services: Community-and Family-Centered Practice. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
  • Alan Weil and Kenneth Finegold (editors). 2002. Welfare reform: The next act. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

General topics covered: bureaucracy, social capital, community development, social work, homelessness, hunger and food insecurity

Learning outcomes

  • understanding of alternative models of social welfare and service delivery
  • familiarity with homelessness as a social and local problem
  • familiarity with interviewing skills and techniques
  • greater familiarity with the regional social welfare system
  • understanding of community development (through participation in Haven from Hunger project)
  • clearer understanding of the politics of social welfare

While Soc 315 (Foundations of Social Welfare) is designed to provide a broad overview of the field of social welfare, this course will focus more on practice.

Because of the critical importance in the social welfare field of possessing strong interpersonal skills, we focus a good part of the course discussing and practicing interviewing. This is combined with professionals from the area who are willing to come to class and answer questions about their work and experiences in the field. When held Winter term, the class has also taken on the responsibility of managing the State Employees’ Food Drive for the campus, which occurs during the month of February. The term project for the class focuses on hunger and food insecurity, and attempts to identify do-able projects that fit within the goals and structure of Haven from Hunger.

Soc 420 is required for the Social Welfare concentration. Students take it in either their junior or senior years. A good portion of time is spent discussing issues related to students impending job searches, both the practical aspects, and the more abstract (e.g., reflecting on the value of academic training for a professional career).