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Social Work

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Program Overview

Social work is the helping profession sanctioned by society to ensure the maximum independent social functioning of all people. This purpose of social work practice is achieved in two approaches: first, social workers work toward changing social institutions, organizations, and communities to better meet the needs of people; second, social workers work toward helping people to cope better with life and utilize resources in the social environment. Emphasis on the ethics and values of social work occurs throughout the social work curriculum. Students in the introductory social work course are introduced to the Code of Ethics of National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and adherence to and belief in that Code of Ethics is reinforced in all other social work courses.

History of Bachelor of Social Work Program at JSU
Jacksonville State University began teaching social work classes in 1979. In 1981, Dr. Rebecca Turner and Dr. Mark Fagan were hired to develop the courses necessary to offer a minor in Social Work. These courses included the Field Instruction component, which made it possible for the students to work with local agencies. In order to develop a major in Social Work, Dr. Fagan and Dr. Rodney Friery wrote a proposal for a Title III Grant from the Federal Government. This grant provided funding for five years. Ms. Donna Smith was hired in 1984, and became the Field Coordinator.

In 1986, JSU applied to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for approval for a BSW Degree. This original request was denied. Dean J. E. Wade, Dr. James Reeves, Dr. William Carr, and Dr. Harold McGee devoted countless hours and energy into reversing this decision. The major was finally approved in November 1987. The first class to graduate with the BSW Degree consisted of 15 students; they graduated in April 1988. Initial accreditation from the National Council on Social Work Education was granted to the program in 1992. This was effective for four years. Retroactive accreditation status by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) was granted to be effective as of April 1988. Dr. Rebecca Turner became the initial BSW Program Director in 1988, and the Department Head for Sociology and Social Work in 1990. Ms. Gail Childs became the departmental secretary in 1991.

Mr. James Powe was hired in 1995, to be an agency-based Field Supervisor at the Alabama Department of Human Resources in Calhoun County. DHR began providing stipends to BSW students that did their Field Instruction at that agency. Reaffirmation of Accreditation from CSWE was granted in 1996, and again in 2004, to be effective until 2012. Dr. Mark Fagan was promoted to Full Professor in 1992, and became the BSW Program Director in 1998. He moved up to Acting Department Head for Sociology and Social Work in 1999, and Department Head in 2002.

Ms. Kim Womack was hired in 1997, as a BSW Program faculty member. Ms. Dee Barclift and Ms. Robyn Snider joined the BSW Program faculty in 1998. Ms. Charlene Stephens became the BSW Program secretary in 1999. Dr. Maureen Newton was added to the BSW Program faculty in 1999. Mr. Jonathan Adams was hired in 2001, as an agency-based Field Instructor for DHR in Etowah County. Dr. Nancy Francisco Stewart became a BSW Program faculty member in 2003. Ms. Donna Smith retired in 2005, and Ms. Robyn Snider was appointed as University Field Coordinator at that time. Mr. Jonathan Adams assumed the teaching duties vacated by Ms. Snider. Dr. Jenny Savage joined the faculty in 2006. Dr. Maureen Newton was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005. Dr. Nancy Francisco Stewart and Dr. Jenny Savage were promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. Dr. Mark Fagan retired in 2012.

The BSW Program currently has 220 majors, 60 Field Agencies, a Social Work Club, and a chapter of Phi Alpha, the Social Work Honor Society. The program has the largest number of students for any BSW Program in Alabama. There are 26 student stipends available each year for those performing Field Instruction. These stipends pay $3,000 each per semester.

Program Goals and Education Objectives
The mission of the Bachelor of Social Work degree program is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, values, and interests to promote human and community well-being through public service and entry-level generalist social work practice. The JSU BSW Program will guide students with a personal and environmental construct, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge based on scientific inquiry. The JSU BSW Program will instill in students the quest for social and economic justice; the prevention of conditions that limit human rights; the elimination of poverty, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons. Through partnerships of service and with a central focus of being a regionally responsive, community-based, and practice-centered program guided by social work ethics and values, the program also seeks to provide leadership to social work practice and education in the community, state, region, and the nation.

The purpose of the social work profession is to promote human and community well-being. Social work educators serve their profession through their teaching, scholarship, and service. Social work education, at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels, shapes the profession's future through the education of competent specialists, the generation of knowledge, and the exercise of leadership within the business community.

BSW Program Goals
1. To prepare students for entry-level generalist social work practice with diverse client systems of various sizes and types.
2. To enhance service delivery in social service agencies by providing trained generalist social workers to work in agencies and organizations.
3. To prepare students to develop a professional identity that will incorporate the values and ethics of the social work profession.
4. To prepare students for life-long learning and critical thinking through an educational process that combines a liberal arts perspective with professional social work education.
5. To prepare students that demonstrate a commitment to continue their own professional growth and development, which may include graduate social work education.
6. To provide students with content about a personal and environmental construct, a global perspective, respect for human diversity, and knowledge based on scientific inquiry.
7. To prepare students for social work practice with a quest for social and economic justice, the prevention of conditions that limit human rights, the elimination of poverty, and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons.

BSW Program Educational Objectives
1. Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.
2. Practice within the values and ethics of the social work profession, and with an understanding of and respect for the positive value of diversity.
3. Demonstrate the professional use of self.
4. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination, and the strategies of change that advance social and economic justice.
5. Understand the history of the social work profession and its current structures and issues.
6. Apply the knowledge and skills of generalist social work practice with systems of all sizes.
7. Apply knowledge of bio-psycho-social variables that affect individual development and behavior; use theoretical frameworks to understand the interactions among individuals and between individuals and social systems (i.e., families, groups, organizations, and communities).
8. Analyze the impact of social policies on client systems, workers, and agencies.
9. Evaluate research studies and apply findings to practice and, under supervision, evaluate their own practice interventions and those of other relevant systems.
10. Use communication skills differently with a variety of client populations, colleagues, and members of the community.
11. Use supervision appropriate to generalist practice.
12. Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems, and under supervision, seek necessary organizational change.
13. Demonstrate a commitment to continue their professional growth and development.
14. Increase understanding of and commitment to the social worker's role in promoting social and economic justice.
15. Become empowered so that they, in turn, work to empower client groups.
16. Employ an ethnically-sensitive social work practice with diverse and oppressed populations within a social justice perspective.
17. Develop skills in working with clients and colleagues toward social change efforts in response to community needs.
18. Develop skills in integrating and applying knowledge and theory related to economic and social justice issues that were acquired in academic courses to actual social work situations.

The following educational competencies are the heart of the BSW curriculum and the specific competencies developed in each course flow from them. The BSW explicit curriculum provides courses in social policy and services; human behavior and the social environment; social work practice; cultural diversity; healthcare; aging; mental health; child welfare, and field instruction. The BSW curriculum prepares graduates for generalist practice through mastery of the core competencies.

BSW Educational Comptetences
Competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. The explicit curriculum of the BSW Program seeks to develop core competencies in graduates that will make them effective practitioners with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The ten core competencies are listed below, followed by a description of characteristic knowledge, values, skills, and the resulting practice behaviors.

1. Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.
Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession's history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession's enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth. Social workers advocate for client access to the services of social work; practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development; attend to professional roles and boundaries; demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication; engage in career-long learning, and use supervision and consultation.

2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decision making. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law. Social workers recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice; make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles; tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts, and apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions.

3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information. Social workers distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom; analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; and demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues.

4. Engage diversity and difference in practice.
Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience, and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person's life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, create or enhance privilege and power; gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups; recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences, and view themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.

5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice. Social workers understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination; advocate for human rights and social and economic justice, and engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge. Social workers use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry; and use research evidence to inform practice.

7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of social systems in which people live, and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development. Social workers utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation, and critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.

8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development. Social workers analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being, and collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

9. Respond to contexts that shape practice.
Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively. Social workers continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services; they provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services.

10(a) to (d). Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.

a. Engagement
Social workers substantively and effectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; use empathy and other interpersonal skills, and develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes.

b. Assessment
Social workers collect, organize, and interpret client data; assess client strengths and limitations; develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives, and select appropriate intervention strategies.

c. Intervention
Social workers initiate actions to achieve organizational goals; implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities; help clients resolve problems; negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients; and facilitate transitions and endings.

d. Evaluation
Social workers critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions.

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