Course Descriptions

SWK510 Social Work Practice with Individuals and Families
This introductory gero‐infused practice course focuses on the practice theories and skills that are needed in the helping process. Various interviewing techniques, assessment tools and intervention strategies are taught within the strengths based perspective. The course includes the following practice models: problem solving, solution focused, motivational interviewing, and crisis intervention. Issues of human rights related to social and economic justice are integrated throughout the course.

SWK511 Field Practicum I
This course is the first part of a year-long class required of all MSW students completing their foundation level field internship. The course combines guided discussion, personal reflection and peer feedback in a small group format as a means for students to integrate social work theory, practice, social welfare policy, human behavior in the social environment, and research in real world experiences. This course begins the student’s journey to becoming a professional social worker by developing competencies through the use of reflection and feedback. The course uses ethics as a framework for developing practice behavior skills in a globally focused, family-centered concentration.

SWK512 Social Work Research Methods
This basic research course introduces social work research with a gerontology-infused focus. Research principles and paradigms and are explored to prepare students to use research in their practice, and to be critical consumers of research. Ethical standards of scientific inquiry will also be introduced framing how social and political forces shape research agendas, questions, and designs.

SWK513 Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE I)
This foundation course is the first of two courses that review various theories about human development and human behavior. A life course perspective is used that views development as lifelong, multidimensional, and multidirectional and examines the biophysical, psychological and social domains' influences on human behavior, using the person-and-environment perspective with a particular focus on the elderly. Major developmental theories will be examined and analyzed as they relate to individuals and families with diverse life experiences. The course stresses the importance of attending to the interrelatedness of contextual factors in the study of human behavior. The course is designed to provide an introduction to the globally-focused, family-centered approach to a social work oriented understanding of human development across the life course.

SWK514 History of Social Work and Social Welfare
This course examines the social problem of poverty in the United States and the policy response to it.  Students will learn the basics of social welfare policy provision in the US, the history of the US response to poverty, the basics of social welfare policy in at least four areas (aging, health care, family policy, and incarceration), and an understanding how ideological values, politics, and power shape the racialized and gendered social construction of social problems. 

SWK550 Social Work Practice with Groups
This gero-infused course focuses on social work practice with groups, building on knowledge and skills learned in SWK510. Social work practice with groups describes the history of group work, and concepts and theories of group process. Special attention will be given to human rights, social and economic justice diversity, multicultural and global issues related to social work practice with groups.

SWK551 Field Practicum II
This course is the second part of a year-­‐long seminar required of all MSW students completing their foundation level field internship. The course combines guided discussion, and personal reflection in a small group format as a means for students to integrate social work theory and course material on practice, social welfare policy, human behavior in the social environment, and research in real world practice experience. This course continues the student’s journey to becoming a professional social worker through skill development and use of self-examination and reflection as means to explore the practical and ethical skills needed for social work practice in a globally focused, family-centered framework.

SWK553 Human Behavior in the Social Environment II
This course is the second in a series of two and examines issues of diversity in the person andenvironment context. Theoretical formulations of how dominant societies and their members interact with persons and families belonging to non-dominant racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and religious groups; women; children; persons who are poor; the elderly; immigrants; and persons with disabilities will be presented. This course will include self reflection as the student considers his/her membership of the dominant culture or non-dominant culture as they come to understand their social identity. Violence as a means to maintain oppression of non-dominant groups will be presented. White privilege as a major underlying force in maintaining the above groups in positions of lower status is also explored.

SWK610 Advanced Social Work Practice with Families - Global
Building on the value of family centered focus begun in foundation courses, the students learn to be leaders in working with families in the global context. The course identifies elements that families universally share while simultaneously taking into account differences. Student identifies how to create appropriate interventions with families in all fields of practice. Students learn to apply solution focused, family systems, structural family, and narrative therapy. Non dominant family theories will also be explored. This course explores issues of diversity, social and economic justice and considers intersectionality as it applies to the multiple roles and convergent stresses placed on families.

SWK611 Field Practicum III
This course is required for advanced-standing students and those in the concentration year of the MSW program who are in field placement. This course builds on the previous foundation level field courses (SWK 511 & 551). The course focuses on aiding the development of advanced practice skills in conjunction with the student’s field placement with clients, supervisors, colleagues, agency climate, community groups and constituents. A particular emphasis is placed on globally-focused, family-centered interventions used with vulnerable and oppressed populations at each stage of the practice helping process whether at the micro, mezzo, or macro levels. Graduates will demonstrate advanced critical thinking skill in examining issues of social justice and human rights as it relates to their the field placement. In addition students will have an increasing expectation to analyze examine how macro level issues impact service delivery. The course will emphasize ethical issues in practice throughout the semester.

SWK612 Practice Evaluation
This course focuses on the development of knowledge and research skills that are required for ongoing evaluation of practice with individuals, groups, and/or communities within a global context. Building upon foundation research curriculum, this course uses single systems design and multi-measurement approaches to examine outcomes in clinical and/or organizational practice. The course provides students the practice behaviors to use single-case evaluation principles to assess, intervene, and evaluate their work with client systems. The goals of the course are to demonstrate the relevance of research on practice and practice on research and to use primary and secondary data to guide decision-making, inform practice, and policy development. The emphasis of the course would be the use of analytical research principles and the utilization of a strengths-based, empowerment approach in addressing client’s problems within the context of personal strengths, social work values, and social welfare services and policies.

SWK614 Family Centered Policy in Global Perspective
This course explores public policy in a global context with regard to global social problems, and the affect on families and family systems, defined in the broadest sense. Using a human rights framework this course explores conceptual frameworks that can be used to identify and understand some of the influences of globalization on public policy needs and choices. Specifically this course addresses how these policies affect transnational families and other families of diverse structures, socio-economic statuses, political ideologies and racial and ethnic backgrounds, and their impact on global social problems such as enduring and absolute poverty, food insecurity, human rights violations against vulnerable populations, and civil conflict, with a particular focus on developing and least developed nation states.

SWK620 Empowerment Practice with Latinos: Identity, Social Context, and Implications for Practice
This course provides a framework for culturally relevant social work services designed to meet the needs of the Latino/a community. Through the use of creative literature, film, and social science theory, students will acquire a core understanding of issues of identity, racialization of Latinos, cultural history, and the political and social realities of Latinos. The inter- and intra-group differences will be highlighted. Special attention will be given to the growing phenomena of transnationalism. Students will acquire core principles grounded in an understanding of social justice, privilege and oppression. These principles will be applied to special topics in clinical practice, community empowerment and the development of a public policy agenda. 

SWK621 Human Rights, Gender and Globalization – El Salvador
Human Rights, Gender and Globalization is a three-credit graduate level course, which fulfills the advanced diversity requirement.  This course seeks to expand your understanding of how all of our lives are shaped by social structures and the historical contexts in which we live.  This course explores themes of social and economic development, globalization, gender and social justice within the Latin American context. Specific objectives include: to encourage cultural understanding, to become aware of and respect Salvadoran norms and values, to learn of the lived economic reality of the Salvadorans and to promote social justice.

SWK622 Negotiating Social, Cultural, and Psychological Borders: Social Work with Immigrant and Refugee Families and Communities
Historically a multi-ethnic and multi-racial country, the United States is becoming increasingly diverse as a consequence of global immigration.  Students will learn demographic trends related to immigration and address the experience of immigrant groups by understanding how the reception by the host society, racialization, class, gender and characteristics of the ethnic community impact the adaptation of immigrant/refugee groups.  Grounded in this contextual understanding, students address specific issues for immigrant and refugee families such as inter-generational issues, language and cultural maintenance, family separations and histories of trauma and political torture.   

SWK623 Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Social Policy
Conceptions of race and ethnicity have played a pivotal role in American political discourse and in the formation of social policy. Through the use of social science literature on group identity formation, race, ethnicity and immigration as well as fiction, film and autobiographical accounts, this course exams social constructions of race and ethnicity and the intersections with gender, citizenship, and class as an analytical tool for understanding the development and implementation of social policies. This course will address policy issues such as the role of privatization, affirmative action, immigration, etc. and their impact on communities of color. Contemporary questions and challenges raised by an increasingly multicultural society for social policy and practice are explored.

SWK624 A Feminist Approach to Clinical Practice with Individual and Families
In this course, students will gain an understanding of feminist, multicultural, and social identity theories and how they can be used to understand the impact of social and cultural forces; specifically, status and power differences, oppression, social norms and role expectations in the development of behavior, identity, health problems and solutions.  Drawing from a strengths perspective approach in a global environment, students will develop the ability to articulate, analyze, implement, and evaluate a practice framework from human rights, advocacy and social justice perspective.  Through a womanist/feminist lens, we will explore themes such as gay and lesbian couples, issues of race difference within a family, transracial adoption, resiliency of families and family separations as a result of immigration and immigration policies, and other issues as they related to contemporary families. The seminar format offers students an arena in which to critically analyze with growing sophistication the theoretical base underlying their work and the interplay of their own personal value frameworks with core social work ethics and values. 

SWK625 Race, Gender, and Human Rights in the Guatemalan Context
This course seeks to expand your understanding of how all of our lives are shaped by social structures and the historical contexts in which we live.  This course explores themes of race and racism, social and economic development, globalization, gender and social justice within the Guatemalan context. Specific objectives include: to encourage cultural understanding, to become aware of and respect Guatemalan norms and values, to learn of the lived economic reality of the Guatemalans and to promote social justice. In so doing, a human rights approach will be taken in the study of the impact of colonialism, the role of culture, poverty, violence, and violations of human rights found in inadequate prosecution of violence against women and children as well as the recent events regarding the genocide of indigenous peoples. This course will emphasize the role of women as human rights defenders within Guatemala. 

SWK640 Mental Health: History, Theories, and Treatment
This course presents mental health through a distinctly social work perspective. The course introduces students to biological, developmental and environmental sources of mental illness and to empirically recognized risk, mediating and protective factors that influence these sources. The course emphasizes assessment, including the use of DSM-5, with approaches to evaluate human behavior and functioning throughout the lifespan, and advanced clinical skills to treat clients with special attention given to vulnerable and diverse populations. The person is not defined by diagnosis or condition. Mental illness is seen through different theoretical orientations including strengths perspective and also within a social context. Persons are viewed holistically, as participating members of their families and communities. The course will also address the economic structures of the mental health system and the impacts of managed care and welfare reform on mentally ill adults, adolescents and children.

SWK641 Community-Based Participatory Research
The course focuses on the use of practice evaluative approaches to examine outcomes of organizational and community practice. Principles of program evaluation, participatory action research, community needs analysis as well as evaluative methodologies that informs agency and community practice will be explored. Building on the advanced evaluation methods course, this course provides students with the skills to enhance their program evaluation abilities and their understanding of community data to enhance decision making in program development and community outreach. The special emphasis on community based participatory research provides a framework consistent with social work values and ethics and the importance in assisting communities in defining their own needs.

SWK651 Field Practicum IV
This course is required for advanced-standing students and those who are in their second field placement in the MSW program. It focuses on advanced skills and particular globally focused, family-centered techniques used with vulnerable and oppressed populations at each stage of the direct practice helping process and with difficult practice situations, such as resistant and involuntary clients, broken families, child abuse, neglect and other serious social problems affecting individuals, client groups, dyads and family systems. Case examples representing complex client situations are drawn from the populations served by students in their fieldwork placements with a specific emphasis placed on working from a social justice and human rights perspective in the field.

SWK655 Community Practice
This course examines the theories, approaches and analytical tools that social workers utilize in community organizing, planning and development practice for the purpose of achieving neighborhood, community and wider social change. The course considers approaches, concepts, and definitions of community and the roles of organizations in change efforts, especially those in diverse and low-income urban communities.  A primary course objective is to explore how community practice attempts to intervene to shape the environmental and structural conditions that affect individual and family functioning. The course also examines the theoretical bases of these interventions, and the implementation strategies through which they play out in daily practice.  The course includes discussion of both historic and current examples of community action practice in Chicago and nationally. Throughout, the course emphasizes political and economic conditions and events that shape, constrain and enable community action and social change.


SWK601 Mediation Skills Training
This is a five-day intensive “boot camp” taught on-campus by experienced professional mediators. This course develops the practical skills of conflict resolution through extensive, supervised role-playing. Required for MA in Conflict Resolution.

SWK606 Social Work Supervision
This course focuses on the role and function of the social work supervisor in human service agencies.  Social workers in supervisory positions are increasingly accountable for the clinical practices of their subordinates and, in addition, have responsibility for effective and efficient function of the administrative components of their units, departments or groups of employees.  Topics include the supervisory relationship and learning styles. 

SWK613 Violence Across the Lifespan
Violence across the Lifespan is designed to provide an overview of violence and trauma, its causes and consequences on the developmental course of individuals, families, communities, organizations and nations. The course explores alternatives to, prevention of, and healing from violence that supports empowerment on micro, meso, and macro levels to address the causes and consequences of violence.

SWK642 The Resilient Social Worker: Practices for Lifelong Balance and Professional Satisfaction
This course will help students develop their capacity to maintain balance and connection in the face of the many demands required within the social work profession.  Students will observe their current ways of responding to their environments in the context of stress, resilience, and mindfulness research, learn to support their current strengths and resources, expand on these, and build new skills.  Areas of focus include: identifying the sources of your resilience and support, establishing separate nourishing spaces and practices, incorporating mindfulness into every day life, identifying and affecting your stress response, developing supportive connections, setting personal and interpersonal boundaries, setting clear and realistic goals, and taking time to replenish and celebrate successes.   Students will create a personalized, flexible self-care plan to be used throughout the semester and which can be used and adjusted throughout their professional career.

SWK643 Divorce & Family Mediation
This 5-day (45 hour) divorce mediation skills training is an advanced course which will build upon the concepts learned in MCR 601, Mediation Skills Training.  The course will prepare the student to mediate a variety of family cases, including divorce or child custody, adult guardianship, and/or child protection matters.  Students in this course will learn about different mediation processes as well as advanced communication and negotiation skills.  Students will then apply these skills through mediation simulations, fishbowl exercises and role play sessions based on scenarios common to a variety of family court settings.  Additional topics covered will include: the legal processes; domestic violence and other impediments to mediating; the grieving process; impact of separation on children; working with professionals; mediating with multiple parties; co-mediation; and ethical issues.

SWK643 Child Welfare II
This course is the second of two courses needed to complete all of the study requirements for achieving a Child Welfare Employee License. The focus is on determining the strengths and needs of children and knowing the child welfare process for children who are determined to be in need of social services. Students will learn how to use the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool in determining what the needs of the child and adolescent as well as their families are. Students will also learn how to engage, assess, intervene and evaluate children and adolescents who are in the child welfare system. They will learn how to engage in family-centered, trauma-informed, strengths-based practice, how to plan for permanency for children in out-of-home care and how to work with the Juvenile Court. Students will also take the CANS exam and the Placement exam, both of which, when combined with the two exams in Child Welfare I, are required to obtain a Child Welfare Employee License. Upon employment by a child welfare agency, students will be able to obtain their Child Welfare Employee License.

SWK644 Child Welfare I
This course will cover the areas needed by a new child welfare worker to adequately provide services to children and youth in Illinois. It will examine professional and ethical behavior in child welfare, as well as cultural competence in working with clients. Focus will be on the engagement process, assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of children needing services and their families. Students will also learn trauma-informed practice and how to implement it with children and youth whose care has been compromised. Students will become familiar with the Illinois State Policies and Procedures, which guide child welfare, practice in Illinois. This course will prepare students to take the Child Welfare Employee Licensure Exam and the Child Endangerment and Risk Assessment Protocol Test, both of which are needed for students to be able to work with youth receiving Illinois Department of Children and Family Services interventions. These two exams will be offered as part of the course.

SWK646 Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients
This course seeks to expand the student’s understanding of how to employ affirmative models of social work practice with LGBT individuals and families. The ecological and strengths based approaches will provide a theoretical frame for this course. These constitute two of several theoretical lenses which will examine the destructive person: environment relationships that exist between LGBT individuals living in a predominantly heterocentric environment and how they cope with these stressors. Course content will be organized within the following five domains: (1) postmodern perspectives on gender; (2) developmental models for acquiring gay and lesbian identity; (3) social work practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons. (4) race and ethnicity, families, youth, and aging; and (5) specific challenges facing the LGBT communities such as homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS.

SWK647 Health disparities in medically underserved communities: A life course approach.
This course will present an overview of the World Health Organization (WHO) social determinants of health.  The gaps in health among different populations known as health disparities, will then be presented following a life course approach.  The course reviews the impact of living in medically underserved communities on children, adolescents, adults and older adults.  This course will be in a seminar format with speakers from the community sharing their expertise in health care and services.

SWK648 Social Media and Social Work Practice
The course examines the impact of social media on social work practice. Multiple uses of social media are illustrated in direct practice with individuals, groups, and organizations. The course will also explore the possibilities, limitations, and ethical issues associated with the use of social media in the human services. Students will have hands-on experience with selected forms of social media technology. Innovative uses of social media and best practices in the social services are examined from a multidisciplinary perspective. The course will discuss how to manage and develop a successful social media presence for nonprofits as well as identify techniques for enhancing marketing efforts and political activism. The impact of social media on relationships, identity development, activism, and branding will also be explored. Those who complete this course will know how to use social media productively, and will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of social media in direct and macro practice situations.

SWK649 Contemporary Issues in Organizing and Advocacy
This course provides students the skills and analytical frameworks to develop organizing and advocacy campaigns that address community, institutional, and structural problems faced by Dominican University students and surrounding communities. Students will participate in the active development of a campaign around a specific, community identified issue for the purpose of achieving institutional, neighborhood, community and wider social change. The course will consider approaches, concepts, and definitions of community and the roles of organizations in change efforts, especially those in diverse, low-income urban communities. The course examines the theoretical bases of these interventions, and the implementation strategies through which they play out in daily practice.

SWK659 Master’s Research Project
This course is designed to assist students who take the research project option to fulfill their graduation requirement. The course is organized as an individual study, in which the student meets with a faculty member who becomes the research project advisor. The format allows the student to explore existing research literature on a chosen topic, explore the state of current knowledge, the practice implications of a selected topic and formulate a proposal which conforms to prevailing standards of scientific inquiry, professional requirements from social work and the structure and requirements of Dominican University.

SWK660 Substance Abuse: Treatment and Prevention
This course will familiarize students with the history and pharmacology of alcohol and other drugs (AOD); the etiology of AOD abuse and dependence; approaches to assessment and treatment of AOD abuse and dependence; the importance of relevant social systems (e.g., family, work, community/society) in addiction and recovery; and the role of the social worker in a multi-disciplinary approach to AOD abuse prevention and treatment.   Behavioral addictions are also considered.   The emphasis in the course will be on the etiology and treatment of AOD abuse and dependence, however, behavioral addictions are also covered.  Implications for social work interventions, service provision and community supports with an urban population are also considered.

SWK663 Global and Practice Perspectives in AgingThis course promotes an approach to social work practice that advances the empowerment and well-being of older adults at the foundation level of knowledge for social work practice with older adults. Global and Practice Perspectives in Aging Care builds on generalist practice, human behavior in the social environment, policy and research courses mastered in the foundation year of the program. Substantive knowledge includes: (1) implications of the biological, psychological and social process of aging for practice; (2) results of recent research in gerontology which impacts interventions with older clients; (3) specific federal/state/local policies and programs; (4) issues in practice with diverse groups of older adults and families, and (5) an awareness of issues concerning the aging within across-cultural/global dimension.

SWK664 School Social Work
This course examines the design and delivery of school social work interventions and supporting the child’s social and emotional learning. Federal and state educational policies related to children with disabilities, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) will be explored as well as a review of current topics in education as they impact the role of the school social worker. Additionally, the following topics will be highlighted: the historical role of social work in the schools; collaboration within an educational setting; professional values and ethics; special education evaluations and documentation; crisis intervention and violence prevention; cultural competence; reading in the content area including methods of reading; special topics exceptional child development including methods of instruction such as modifications and accommodations, and addressing the needs of English Language Learners. Content will be presented pertaining to social workers critically examining needs of children and families, intervening effectively in order to meet those needs, and evaluating the outcomes of service delivery. Particular focus will be paid to data-driven, evidence-based practices.

SWK665 Seminar in International Social Work
This course is designed to broaden students' exposure to world problems and to the existence of alternative solutions to social problems through an economic and social justice approach. The interrelationship between domestic and international social welfare issues will be highlighted and the functions and contributions of social work internationally will be examined. The course will also make students aware of the opportunities for international collegial exchange through participation in international social work organizations.

SWK669 Crisis Intervention
This course prepares students to understand and provide crisis intervention in a variety of settings including medical and mental health facilities, schools, emergency response departments, community centers, and neighborhoods. Crises will be defined and specific models for assessment and intervention will be described and applied to case examples. A special focus of the course will be the prevention of and response to suicide as well as debriefing for groups affected by large-scale disasters. Models and interventions will also be examined for their inclusion of strength and resiliency perspective, and their efficacy with at-risk populations as influenced by gender, sexual orientation, spirituality, ethnicity, and poverty and other environmental factors.

SWK670 Human Trafficking
This course examines the global phenomenon of human trafficking. Issues for discussion will include how human trafficking occurs in a global context and in the U.S. Topics will include recruitment, enslavement, rescue and restore. The psychological impact on men, women and children who are victims of traffickers and the impact on countries, communities, and families. The discussions will be supported by selected readings, videos and speakers.

SWK673 Play Therapy With Children and Families for the Social Worker
This course is designed to provide introductory training on play and other expressive therapy techniques designed for various populations including children, adolescents and families. This course focuses on encouraging the unique development and emotional growth of children through the process of counseling using expressive therapies. The content of the course introduces a distinct group of interventions including play and other skills as integral components of the therapeutic process. A major focus of the course involves instructional and experiential opportunities for the student to develop skills that provide children with appropriate developmental materials and facilitate a safe relationship for the child to express models that can be applied to children of various ages. 

SWK678 Successful Aging in Communities of Care: An Intergenerational Experience.
This gerontology elective focuses on older adults and their environment. The concept of Successful Aging and intergenerational relationships will be integrated into this focus. The course also integrates ethical/value standards, multicultural and diverse contexts, and populations at risk including older adults with limited financial resources, physical diseases and life course experiences such as immigration, or societal violence. The problem-­‐solving (change) process is incorporated as relocation and challenges to “aging in place” occur.  Assessment and evaluative techniques are taught. Continuum of care model will be analyzed and critiqued.  The course will focus on nursing homes and the new innovative approach to care as well as the role of the social worker. 

SWK686 Advanced Social Work Practice with Older Adults
This course will examine the advanced study of clinical treatment of older adults. Focus will include different mental health issues presented by older adults, such as, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, adjustment disorders due to relocation or loss of loved ones and chronic illness.  Successful treatment models with older adults will be presented framed in the life course perspective.  

Competency Exam
In order to effectively evaluate the quality and direction of the Dominican University Graduate School of Social Work all students are required to take a competency exam upon entering the MSW program and also at the end of the foundation year (all 500 level courses complete). Additionally, MSW students will take a pre and post test Concentration Competency Examination as well. The results of this exam will assist the faculty and administration of GSSW in analyzing the strengths and limitations of the program.