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University of Michigan

Social Welfare Policy and Services

University of Michigan via edX

This course may be unavailable.


Explore current social welfare issues in the context of their history and the underlying rationale and values that support different approaches. Emphasis is placed on major fields of social work service such as:

  • income maintenance
  • health care
  • mental health
  • child welfare
  • corrections
  • elderly services

You will learn about analytic frameworks with regard to social welfare policies and services. These frameworks identify strengths and weaknesses in the current social welfare system with respect to:

  • multiculturalism and diversity
  • social justice and social change
  • behavioral and social science theory and research
  • relevant social work promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation programs

There are four main content areas for the course.

  1. The philosophic and practical basis for social welfare provisions.
  2. The history of the social work profession and the emergence of specific policies and programs within their historical, social and political contexts.
  3. A critical analysis of current social welfare policies in the U.S. and cross-nationally, and programs, nationally and cross-nationally with attention to the evolving policies.
  4. An understanding of theory/research, debates, and trends in social welfare provision and patterns of service delivery.

This course is part of the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MicroMasters Program offered by MichiganX. Please note that to complete this program with a MicroMasters certificate, you must be enrolled as a verified learner in all courses in the program by November 30, 2020, and you must complete all assessments by March 29, 2021.


Week 1:
What Is Social Welfare? What Is Social Justice?
Definitions of Social Policy and Theories of Social Justice

Week 2:
Foundations of The Welfare State – From the Poorhouse To Progressive Era
Origins of Social Work

Week 3:
The Creation Of Modern Welfare State: The New Deal And The Social Security Act

Week 4:
Historical Context: Civil Rights, The Great Society, And Expansion of The Welfare State

Week 5:
Retraction of The Welfare State: From The War On Poverty to Income Inequality
Work, Welfare, and Family: Current Policy Dilemmas

Week 6:
Homelessness And Housing Policy
Health and Mental Health Services Policy

Week 7:
Policies and Services For Children
Social Policy For Older Americans

Week 8:
Social Policy Challenges: Human Trafficking And Immigration Policy

Taught by

Katie Richards-Schuster


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