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University of Michigan

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change

University of Michigan via edX

This course may be unavailable.


In this social science course, you will learn how social workers in the United States engage in creating change and supporting the resilience of individuals, families and communities in this new era.

Learners will have an opportunity to explore the social work profession, the different roles of social workers in a range of settings, the cross cutting themes that guide social work practice, the history of social work, and current challenges.

Using a social justice lens, learners will reflect on current challenges facing the lives of individuals, families and communities and examine ways to advocate for needed changes.

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 Work?
Introduction to social work as a profession and key roles social workers perform across system levels (individual, family, community, organization, policy). Focus on core social values and perspectives. Week 2: Cross-Cutting Themes that Guide Social Workers
Introduction to key cross cutting themes (e.g., systems theory, strengths based approach, empowerment, evidence-informed practices and social justice). Explore these themes through case examples and interactive exercises. Week 3: History of Social Work as Profession in the United States
Examine the history of social work as a profession using an issue oriented approach. Learn unique contributions of social workers over the years. Week 4: Addressing Issues of Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice
Learn strategies that social workers use to effectively make a difference in addressing privilege, oppression, diversity and social justice in their work. Explore current challenges and advocacy needs through case applications. Week 5: Preparing to Practice Social Work – The MSW Learning Process
This week explores topics related to entering an MSW program at the University of Michigan and the tools needed to be successful and maximize learning.

Taught by

Mary Ruffolo, Barbara Hiltz and Katie Richards-Schuster


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