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Foundation Curriculum M.S.W. Program - Portland

To assure a common base for social work practice the faculty has identified a required foundation curriculum to be completed by all students, regardless of their choice of concentration. Three terms of concurrent foundation field practicum are an integral part of the foundation curriculum.


Social Justice in Social Work
Chair: Stephanie Wahab

SW 539 is a required course explores diversity and oppression based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, (dis)ability status, and social class. The course examines models for inter-group relations; the historical context of group relations; and cultural variables significant to ethnic, racial and cultural minority populations. It also examines social, political, and cultural processes as they affect inter-group and intra-group relations. The role of social worker as border crosser, cultural learner, and agent of change is explored. There are opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and content analysis and skills development. The nature of the course requires examination of the meaning systems in which each of us is immersed, as well as examination of those meaning systems that we, as social workers, must strive to understand.


Social Welfare Policy and Services
Chair: Ted Donlan

SW 520 defines and describes social welfare policy and the policy-making process. Historical and contemporary issues and their impact on the profession of social work and the institution of social welfare are examined. This course also emphasizes the development of policy-practice skills from the perspective of a worker in a human service organization and highlights the relationships between social problems, social policies, social programs, and social work practice.


Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Chair: Vicki Cotrell

This part of the foundation provides empirical knowledge and expository theory for understanding the person in environment. SW 540, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Micro Theory presents and critiques basic knowledge of human development from infancy to late adulthood in the context of individuals and families and identifies relationships between theoretical frameworks and the bio-psychosocial environment. This course considers populations at risk and the impacts of racism and other forms of oppression on development. It provides students with knowledge of how developmental frameworks organize information about human dynamics, while still stressing the multi-causal nature of behavioral outcomes. SW 541, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Macro Theory presents and critiques basic knowledge of the development, behavior and change process of groups, communities and organizations. This course uses social theory to provide students with conceptual frames for analyzing how the actions of both clients and social work practitioners are conditioned and constrained as well as enabled and empowered by broader social forces. It also considers the effect of mezzo and macro level forces on the development and functioning of populations at risk.


Social Welfare Research
Chair: Kevin Corcoran

SW 550, Foundation of Social Work Research introduces research in social work, and stresses the importance of research to social work practice and policy. Qualitative and quantitative research, group designs, single case studies, and evaluation of programs and of practice are considered. The critical consumption of research and the ethics of social work research are introduced. Finally, SW 550 also considers the scientific method, systematic inquiry, the relation of theory to research, problem formulation, measurement, sampling, design, and data collection. The second research course SW 551, Data Analysis in Social Work Research focuses on techniques of quantitative data analysis and introduces methods of qualitative data analysis. This course considers interpreting and using results to improve social work practice including program evaluation. It also covers descriptive statistics, probability theory and hypothesis testing, and inferential methods. It includes discussion of culturally sensitive research and ethical issues in social work research.


Generalist Social Work Practice
Chair: Pamela Miller

This three-term sequence is designed to prepare students to offer social work services in a generalist practice framework. Based on the ecosystems, strengths and empowerment perspectives, students develop interviewing, assessment, intervention and evaluation skills across five levels of practice – individual, family, group, organization and community. These skills are developed in the context of social work values and ethics and with special attention to anti-oppressive and non-discriminatory practice with diverse populations. Theories for social work practice are examined with an emphasis on critical thinking about their application, their integration with effective practices and their utility with diverse populations across practice settings. SW 530-532 includes work in interviewing skills, collaboration, and team work and Field Instruction, SW 500 is a co-requisite.