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Microcredential

Social Policy for Social Services & Health Practitioners

Columbia University via Coursera Specialization

Overview

In the U.S., social policy accounts for two-thirds of government spending. Knowing how policies are constructed, what values underlie them, and how they succeed or fail makes everyone more effective at work or in their civic role. This specialization includes an HONORS track in which learners will complete a professional social policy analysis. Teachers, health care workers, police, and social workers interact with policy daily, but all of us should care about the impact and effectiveness of these programs. Health and mental health programs, education, housing and income supports, pensions, criminal justice services, veterans’ programs, child protective services, and immigration services create a support system all Americans will draw upon. They also reveal Americans' ethics and values, indicating how we regard and care for our most vulnerable. This specialization will explore the size, structure, and outcomes of U.S. social policy by -comparing it with the approaches of other developed nations. -examining the history of our efforts and probing population effects that shape policy. -looking deeply into support for families in general, poor families, people with disabilities, and the elderly. -mapping out existing policies for housing, education, healthcare, immigration and child welfare. -addressing issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. By the end of the course the learner will be at home working in, utilizing, and voting in the U.S. welfare system.

Syllabus

Course 1: US Social Services Compared
- In all nations, social policy is a very large public investment. Course 1 will explore the size, structure, and outcomes of U.S. social policy and compare this policy to those of similar developed countries. The course will also probe the values this policy represents and the values debate regarding about how big our welfare state should be— in other words, how much of our education, housing, health, income support, and social services the government should supply and how much individuals should supply for themselves. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments.

Course 2: US Social Services: Where did they come from?
- The course probes the formation of social policy in the United States from its very first cultural and religious roots. Starting with the transition from hunter-gatherer groups to agrarian villages, the course will examine the passage of the Poor Laws that shaped social policy through the colonial period until the beginnings of the 20th century, when the challenge of making the industrial city livable gave rise to the development of the welfare state. As part of this transformation, the provider of social welfare shifted from the local community to the state to the federal government. The course ends with an exploration of the debate regarding the role of government in the late 20th century: should it foster entitlements or self-sufficiency? This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments.

Course 3: Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy
- This course has four modules, or foci. The first is to understand the categories of social welfare—populations, income, earnings, and assets— and some related concepts that play a very large role in shaping policy decisions: unemployment, inflation, and the minimum wage. The second deals with the central institution of social welfare—the labor market, which largely determines how many resources a person has. The labor market also establishes hierarchy, both through meritocracy and through categories of privilege. The third is poverty: the differing ways we define who is poor, and how effective U.S. anti-poverty efforts have been. The final module looks directly at federal decision making, the political organization of ideas, the structure of U.S. government, and the legislative process that shapes much of our social policy. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments.

Course 4: Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities
- Course 4 discusses four populations: families, poor families, people with disabilities, and people as they age. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. -The first module identifies the needs of children and the role of the state in child development. We will explore changes in the family and the resulting debates about how to best support families and child development. We’ll appraise family leave and child care programs for their role in supporting paid work and in strengthening child development, as well as income support efforts including the child tax credit and proposals for a family allowance. -The second module begins with a description of child poverty—both the forces leading to it, and its effects. This module also describes public support programs and critiques the debates surrounding them. -The third module focuses on persons living with disabilities, evaluating the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. We will also critique the processes of establishing a disability social insurance program and the public aid programs that make people with disabilities eligible for income support and health support. -The final module begins with a report on the aging of the U.S. population. Building on this, we’ll examine social insurance programs and public aid programs for seniors for their longterm viability, and assess the various reforms that have been proposed to stabilize these programs. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments.

Course 5: Health, Housing, and Educational Services
- Course 5 discusses policies in four areas: housing, education, healthcare, and immigration, with an optional fifth module in child protection. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. -First we’ll look at housing policy, with its contrasting supports for homeowners and renters. -Then we’ll interpret the structure that provides education and examine debates about its future. -The third module will differentiate the issues in the U.S. healthcare system and develop the structure of public healthcare programs. -Next, the course will lay out immigration policies and weigh the push and pull of the debate about immigration reform. -The optional fifth module traces the child protection system its beginnings to the present day and appraises the failures and strengths of the system. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments.

Courses

Taught by

John Robertson

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