Social work

The goals of the social work program are:

  • to prepare students for beginning-level generalist social work practice who are well-equipped with theory and skill and socialized into the profession;
  • to prepare students with a solid foundation for graduate training in social work;
  • to enhance the professional development of social service workers of the region.

Social work practice is licensed in Ohio as in many other states. A social work degree at either the master or baccalaureate level is required to be eligible for a license. Bluffton's baccalaureate social work degree meets the standards for accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education.

Social work is concerned with helping people improve their lives through direct and indirect services. Social workers work with individuals, groups, communities and social policy issues to enable people to deal with their problems. Social workers bring to their practice an examined value orientation and a unique knowledge base that focuses on the interaction of person and environment.

Licensed social workers are employed in many types of settings by public and private agencies. Fields of practice include services to children, medical, mental health, services for elderly, criminal justice, schools, recreational and character-building programs, community planning and organization, overseas relief and development, public welfare and others. Roles for B.A.-level social workers include case management, supportive counseling and beginning level program development and administrative roles.

A generalist approach at the baccalaureate level provides skills enabling graduates to take employment in most fields of social work practice or to go on to graduate study. The program seeks competent students who are concerned about people and social problems, who want to help people and desire to work on improving the social environment in which they live. A strong emphasis is placed on understanding issues of human diversity within our society. Cross-cultural and off-campus experiences are strongly encouraged.

Field work is an important feature of social work education. The student engages in one semester of in-agency practicum within a broad choice of settings. This provides opportunity for the student to integrate knowledge with practice and demonstrate skills and competencies learned throughout the curriculum.

Entrance to the upper-level courses requires a written application into the program and a formal interview with program faculty. Transfer students are asked to submit letters of reference. See the Social Work Program Student Manual for further information.
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(64 hours including 10 hours of LAS requirements)
Foundation courses: (19 hours)
BIO 105 The Biological World  (4) 
    or   NSC 106 Human Biology Today (3)
PLS 100 Introduction to Political Science (3)
    or   PLS 251 American Political Process (3) 
PSY 110 Introduction to Psychology (3)
SOC 152 Introduction to Sociology (3)
ECN 141 Principles of Macroeconomics (3)
PSY 340 Abnormal Psychology (3)

Required social work courses: (46 hours)
SWK 120 Introduction to Social Work (3)
SWK 141 Understanding Social Welfare (3) 
SWK 240 Interviewing: Theoretical and Skill Based Approaches (3)
SWK 263 Human Behavior and Social Environment 1 (3)
SWK 264 Human Behavior and Social Environment 2 (3)
SWK 301 Social Work Practice 1: Micro (3)
SWK 302 Social Work Practice 2: Mezzo (3)
SWK 303 Social Work Practice 3: Macro (3)
SWK 360 Basics of Social Research 1 (3)
SWK 372 Social Welfare Policy and Analysis (3)
SWK 401 Field Work (12)
SWK 404 Field Work Seminar (1)
SWK 405 Social Work Seminar (3)

The major can begin in the first, sophomore or even in the junior year, although the later beginnings presume substantial prior work on the general education and foundation courses. While breadth in the liberal arts is encouraged, some students may wish to combine the social work major with the peace and conflict studies minorSpanish or other majors or minors depending on particular career interests.


SWK 120 Introduction to Social Work   (3)
Introduces social work as a professional endeavor and the service programs and policies of formally organized agencies and institutions in which social workers work. Looks at the history, purpose, values, methods and structure of the profession. A variety of practice settings and social problem issues of concern are examined. Students are challenged to examine their own value commitment to working with people and striving for social reform, whether as a social work professional or public citizen. Includes a 15-clock-hour community service learning experience in a social service agency.

SWK 141 Understanding Social Welfare   (3)
This course introduces students to the institutional systems developed in the United States and world wide to meet human needs. The course includes a historical survey of the development of social welfare and examination of society's response to major social issues such as poverty and discrimination. The relationship between societal values and social welfare policies is examined as well as current trends likely to affect the future of social welfare, such as the globalization of corporations and the growth of consumerism.

This course examines the roles, status and contributions of women in social institutions including the family, work place, health system, politics, religion and education. While the course focuses on American society, international perspectives are introduced. The course utilizes guest speakers with expertise in appropriate areas. Examples of topics include the contemporary women's movement (1960-present), the roles of women in changing family structures, the "feminization of poverty," the impact of changing laws regarding domestic violence, the status of women in organized religion and special concerns of women of color. This course is also listed as SOC 185. This course is the core course in the Women's Studies minor.

An introduction to the process of helping individuals through the use of interviewing and counseling techniques. A range of theoretical perspectives will be examined regarding this process. Addresses interpersonal communication and multicultural issues. Focuses on the development of skills using case studies, videos and role playing. this course is open to all majors and may be taken as part of the Peace and Conflict Studies minor. Prerequisite: PSY 110 or SWK 120 or permission of instructor.

SWK 263 Human Behavior and Social Environment 1   (3)
This course focuses on the developmental tasks of the individual through the life cycle from infancy through old age. The influence of the family and other primary groups is examined. Variety and diversity of human experience is explored in context of cultural expectations, values and social change.

SWK 264 Human Behavior and Social Environment 2   (3)
This course focuses on the interactional effects of social institutions, diverse groups and individuals. The community as the milieu in which individuals, families and groups function is examined from an ecological perspective. The implications of this knowledge for social work practice are examined.

SWK 280 Child Welfare Services   (3)
A survey of the child welfare field, examining the range of in-home, foster-care and institutional services, along with related policy issues. Looks at the various organizations and their structures and procedures concerned with child welfare issues, including the legal system. Issues of state regulation for protecting children will be studied as well as approaches to child advocacy. This course is to serve social work majors exploring their interests in the field and for non-majors whose careers will have them relating to the child welfare system.

SWK 301 Social Work Practice 1: Micro   (3)
This first course in the social work practice sequence presents a generalist model for the sequence. The emphasis is on developing skills in the use of communication techniques including interviewing, individual and family needs assessments, developing and implementing service plans, identification of formal and informal resources and beginning practice evaluation. Prerequisites: SWK 263 and SWK 264.

SWK 302 Social Work Practice 2: Mezzo   (3)
Introduces theory of group dynamics including communication, group formation, member roles and group functions. Develops skill in the use of small group technique for personal, small group and environmental change.

SWK 303 Social Work Practice 3: Macro   (3)
Further development of social work methodology with populations-at-risk using techniques of community needs assessment, socio-political processes and coalition building and outcome evaluations. Focuses on building macro-practice skills through a supervised services program development or community development project. Prerequisite: SWK 302 or concurrent with SWK 301.

This course presents the nature of the scientific method and research applied to the analysis and interpretation of both quantitative and qualitative data. An introduction to the basic techniques of social research as well as data analysis and interpretation will be presented. Students will learn how to use SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) to analyze and interpret quantitative data. Writing-enriched course. Prerequisites: ENG 110 or ENG 120 and SWK 120 or PSY 110 or SOC 152.

SWK 372 Social Welfare Policy and Analysis (3)
The focus of this course is on evaluation and critical analysis of social welfare policies, programs and services. Students are introduced to a framework for analyzing social needs and social problems and methods of service delivery. Practical implications in social welfare policy for social workers are emphasized, incorporating the roles and skills that comprise the "practice of policy." Prerequisite: SWK 141.

SWK 390 Independent Study in Social Work   (1-3)
For advanced students capable of self-motivated study in an area of the student's interest and not covered in the social work curriculum. Requires the agreement of a faculty member to monitor and consult on the study. Prerequisite: faculty consent.

SWK 401 Field Work  (12)
Educationally directed field experience in a social agency under the supervision of an agency supervisor and the direction of a faculty member for 448 clock hours. The student is expected to implement the theory and knowledge gained throughout the curriculum and demonstrate the practice competencies learned in the practice sequence. Prerequisites: SWK 301, SWK 302, SWK 303 and SWK 372. Corequisite: SWK 404.

SWK 404 Field Work Seminar   (1)
A weekly seminar concurrent with field work to facilitate integration of theory with practice. Corequisite: SWK 401.

SWK 405 Social Work Seminar   (3)
This course completes the social work practice sequence and the social work curriculum and marks a shift from programmed learning to self-directed learning. Students engage in research to acquaint themselves with a selected field of practice. Emphasis is on ethical issues and decision-making in practice, as well as some of the broad issues in social work and professional life. It provides an opportunity for students to integrate their learning and bridge the gap from classroom to job or graduate school. Prerequisite: senior status.

August 2013