School of Social Work

Course Descriptions

Undergraduate

SWO 201 Introduction to Social Work
This course is an introduction to the profession of social work. Students are introduced to the core values of social work and the code of ethics that emanates from those values. Oppression and social justice are central themes of this course. The practice of social work is considered from the perspective of a collaborative strengths-based model working with complex social service systems. The course familiarizes students with various roles, functions, and tasks that social workers perform in a variety of settings. It acquaints students with the primary skills and practices of professional social work. Taking this course will help students make a more informed decision about social work as a career. This course satisfies the Socio-cultural Analysis Core requirement. Cr 3.

SWO 250 Introduction to Social Welfare
Provides an introduction to the institution of social welfare through a review of social welfare history; the values and philosophy in America of treating the poor, the ill, and others in need; contemporary approaches to social policy; and possible alternative models of social welfare. Cr 3.

SWO 322 Community Services In Belize
This service-learning course provides students with an opportunity to understand and appreciate the diverse Belizean culture while collaborating with local agencies to address identified social needs. Service sites include an orphanage, a home for elderly, and work with a women's group. Winter session only–2 Saturday classes prior to departure. Prerequisite: SWO 201 or permission of instructors. This course satisfies the International Core requirement. Cr 3.

SWO 333 Social Work Research I
A study of the methods of social work research for social policy and social work practice. The course emphasizes both quantitative and qualitative research processes with the goal of enabling the student to be competent as a "practitioner searcher." Prerequisites: SWO 201, SWO 250-; any introductory statistics course (MAT 120, PSY 105, , or LCC 150). Cr 3.

SWO 334 Social Work Research II
In this continuation of SWO 333, students complete an empirical research project. Class members serve as a review committee for all research instruments used, learn the practical aspects of writing quantitative and qualitative research reports, and function as a research support group for one another. Prerequisite: SWO 333. Cr 3.

SWO 344 Costa Rica Immersion: Social Work Perspectives on Culture, Language, and Service-Learning
This 2-week course takes place in Costa Rica and will introduce students to the colonial heritage, indigenous cultures, and the contemporary sociopolitical, ecological, and economic issues facing this Central American country. Students will receive 4 hours per day of Spanish language instruction, a class in dance and cooking, visits to cultural and recreational sites, lectures on Costa Rican social problems and social work agencies, and service-learning in a local organization such as an orphanage or refugee camp. Two all-day Saturday classes will be held at USM prior to the course trip. Summer Session only. This course satisfies the International Core requirement. Cr 3.

SWO 350 Social Welfare Policy
A critical examination of social welfare institutions, the social problems and social needs to which they are addressed, and the policy decisions that determine the organization and direction of social welfare programs. Prerequisites: ECO 101, SWO 250, POS 101, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 365 Examining Oppression and Valuing Diversity
This course is designed to provide a framework for understanding and respecting cultural diversity. The cultural aspects of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ableness will be discussed. A central theme in organizing the course is the examination of the role of oppression in shaping the lives of members of various cultural groups. Prerequisites: SWO 201 or permission of instructor. This course satisfies the Diversity requirement of the Core. Cr 3.

SWO 370 Human Behavior in the Social Environment
This course examines the ways in which normative and predictable human behavior throughout the life cycle is mediated by gender, race, age, sexual preference, class and culture. The implication of this knowledge for social work practice will be explored. Prerequisites: SWO 201, SWO 250; PSY 101, PSY 102, HRD 200, and introductory course in biology. Cr 3.

SWO 374 Sexual Harassment in Education and Work
This course examines sexual harassment in the workplace and education from three perspectives: mental health, sexual violence, and social justice. Students apply concepts from the behavioral and social sciences, from clinical and community practice to contemporary education and corporate environments. Environmental and cultural forces that influence discriminatory behavior are explored. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 375 Gender and Aging
A theoretical and practical course that informs students about aging issues affecting women and men differentially. Students will analyze the manifestations of aging and apply concepts drawn from the behavioral and social sciences. Service learning experience may be available. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 378 Professional Practice with Older People
Enhances skills in human service practice with older people. Analyzes the sources and manifestations of both healthy and problematic aging. Applies concepts drawn from the behavioral and social sciences, and from clinical and community practice. Translates a developmental rather than a custodial view into everyday direct service. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 383 Social Work with Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers
Considers migration patterns and flows across the globe, introduces critical concepts in immigration and U.S. immigration policies. Community-based services will be explored with a focus on concepts such as cultural competence, diversity, empowerment, anti-oppressive social work, and critical multicultural approaches. Service-delivery efforts/approaches with the population will be considered. Prerequisite: Juniors standing or permission of instructor. Cr. 3.

SWO 388 Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Issues
Examines the use and abuse of psychoactive substances: street drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Consideration of the history, pharmacology, and physical and psychological effects of each substance. Exploration of prevention and treatment models, with special reference to those in use locally. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 391 Mind/Body/Spirit Connections in Social Work Practice
Examines mind/body/spirit connections in social work practice with regard to stress and its management (meditation, breath control, other relaxation techniques), stress-related illness and personalities, contemporary therapies (mainstream and culturally specific), and spirituality. Prerequisite: SWO 201, junior standing, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

SWO 393 Methods of Social Work Practice I
This course is an introduction to the basic concepts and skills of interviewing and assessment within the framework of a strengths perspective. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of ethics and the process of reflection within a generalist practice of social work. Prerequisites: EYE, math readiness, English Composition, statistics, SOC 100, PSY 101 and 102, Biology and lab, HRD 200, POS 101, ECO 101, SWO 201, SWO 250; at least 60 credits at the time of preregistration for SWO 393; grade of C or better in all required social work and foundation courses; and a 2.5 cumulative GPA overall at the time of enrollment. Offered spring semester only. This course has a service-learning component that requires students to have some time available for work in the community. Cr 3.

SWO 397 Department Projects
Individual or group projects, requiring independent study or field work in some aspect of social welfare, to be selected by students in consultation with a particular faculty member. Prerequisites: Department permission and application prior to registration. Cr var.

SWO 403 Methods of Social Work Practice II
Examines the dilemmas of professional human service workers in bureaucratic systems and the effects of professionalization and the bureaucracy on consumers. Develops a range of methods aimed at better meeting client need with particular reference to strategies of organizational change and community organization. Class discussions and assignments are based on field work experiences. Prerequisites: SWO 393 and a C or better in all required social work and foundation courses, and an overall 2.5 GPA. SWO 411 taken concurrently. Cr 3.

SWO 404 Methods of Social Work Practice III
This course is a continuation of Methods of Social Work Practice II. It explores the contextual nature of generalist social work practice within a strengths perspective. Emphasis will be placed on the processes of engagement, assessment, and intervention with individuals, families, and groups. Family systems, group, and crisis models of intervention will be presented. This course must be taken concurrently with SWO 412 (Field Work II). Prerequisites: SWO 393, SWO 403. Spring semester only. Cr 3.

SWO 411 Field Work I
For social work majors: a required internship of 16 hours per week in approved agency settings, designed to relate social work theory to practice under professional supervision. Fall semester only. Must be taken as the first in a two-course sequence. Prerequisites: SWO 201; SWO 393; a C or better in all required social work and foundation courses, and an overall 2.5 GPA. SWO 403 taken concurrently. Fall semester only. Cr 6.

SWO 412 Field Work II
A continuation of SWO 411. Spring term only. Must be taken as the second in a two-course sequence. Prerequisites: SWO 393, SWO 403, SWO 411, and SWO 404 (concurrent). Cr 6.

SWO 456 Issues in Social Welfare and Social Work
A seminar for social work majors that addresses significant issues confronting the social welfare system and the profession. Prerequisite: social work major or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

Graduate (Back to top)

SWO 501 Multicultural Social Work
This introductory course provides content on culturally diverse populations and serves as the basis for the infusion of cultural diversity issues throughout the graduate curriculum. The premise of this course asserts that the United States is a multicultural society in which social work cannot function effectively unless there is an understanding of how diversity strengthens and enriches us all. Open to non-matriculated graduate students. Cr 3.

SWO 502 Critical Thinking about Human Behavior I
This course examines the theories which address human behavior in mezzo and macro systems. The cultural context of behavior at all levels is an integral and underlying theme of the course. Systems theories, conflict theories, and social constructionist theories are presented. Open to non-matriculated graduate students. Cr 3.

SWO 503 Generalist Social Work Practice I
This course provides the student with an opportunity to acquire beginning generalist practice knowledge and skills in working with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Emphasis is placed on the development of basic practice, interpersonal, self-reflection, and communication skills. Corequisite or prerequisite: SWO 501. Cr 3.

SWO 504 Social Welfare Policy I
This introductory policy course provides an overview of the history of social welfare as well as an introduction to current social policy issues and dilemmas. Emphasis is placed on historical continuities in analyzing the American system of social welfare provision and lack of provision. Corequisite or prerequisite: SWO 501. Open to non-matriculated graduate students. Cr 3.

SWO 505 Social Work Research I
This course introduces a body of knowledge, skills, and attitudinal perspectives designed to produce a high level of competence in the use of social scientific methods of knowledge building. Structured, analytical processes of inquiry are introduced, as well as a rigorous adherence to social work values and ethics. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of inquiry are discussed. Prerequisite: SWO 501. Open to non-matriculated graduate students. Cr 3.

SWO 552 Critical Thinking about Human Behavior II
The course is designed to locate the interplay of biological, psychological, and sociological influences on human behavior within the broader context of culture. Cultural diversity and oppression are seen as central to understanding human behavior and evaluating human behavior theories. The course explores a range of psychological theories such as psychodynamic, narrative, cognitive, and behavioral to understand the person within the complexity of his/her life circumstances. Prerequisites: SWO 501, SWO 502. Open to non-matriculated graduate students. Cr 3.

SWO 553 Generalist Social Work Practice II
This course builds on the concepts presented in Practice I. This course further develops students' values, knowledge, and skills for planned change with a particular focus on work with populations of special concern to social work. The course content emphasizes practice within organizations and communities. Prerequisite: SWO 503 (Social Work Practice I) and SWO 554 (Field and Field Seminar I). Cr 3.

SWO 554 Field Work and Field Seminar I
A graduate internship in an approved community agency, designed to relate social work theory to practice under professional supervision. Fall semester. Corequisite: SWO 503. Cr 3.5.

SWO 555 Field Work and Field Seminar II
A continuation of SWO 554. Spring semester. Corequisite: SWO 553. Cr 3.5.

SWO 522 Community Services In Belize
This service-learning course provides students with an opportunity to understand and appreciate the diverse Belizean culture while collaborating with local agencies to address identified social needs. Service sites include an orphanage, a home for elderly, and work with a women's group. Winter session only–2 Saturday classes prior to departure.

SWO 544 Costa Rica Immersion: Social Work Perspectives on Culture, Language, and Service Learning
This 2-week course takes place in Costa Rica and will introduce students to the colonial heritage, indigenous cultures, and the contemporary sociopolitical, ecological, and economic issues facing this Central American country. Students will receive 4 hours per day of Spanish language instruction, a class in dance and cooking, visits to cultural and recreational sites, lectures on Costa Rican social problems and social work agencies, and service-learning in a local organization such as an orphanage or refugee camp. Two all-day Saturday classes will be held at USM prior to the course trip. Cr.3

SWO 575 Gender and Aging
A theoretical and practical course that informs students about aging issues affecting women and men differentially. Students will analyze the manifestations of aging and apply concepts drawn from the behavioral and social sciences. Cr 3.

SWO 585 Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents
This course introduces the specialized knowledge and skills needed for social work practice relative to child sexual abuse, with a strong focus on understanding the dynamics when sexual abuse occurs in trusted relationships within families, organizations, and institutions. The course provides students the opportunity to integrate current research and theories around etiology, impact, and treatment within issues of resiliency, family strength, social support systems, diversity, value dilemmas, and social justice. This course stresses the need to base a practice approach on the holistic strengths-risks-based assessment of the child and the family and highlights the collaborative roles various providers play at all levels of the response systems including investigation, validation, intervention, and prevention. Cr 3

SWO 583 Social Work with Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers
Considers migration patterns and flows across the globe, introduces critical concepts in immigration and US immigration policies. Community based services will be explored with a focus on concepts such as cultural competence, diversity, empowerment, anti-oppressive social work and critical multicultural approaches. Service delivery efforts/approaches with the population will be considered. Cr 3.

SWO 591 Mind/Body/Spirit Connections in Social Work Practice
Examines mind/body/spirit connections in social work practice with regard to stress and its management (meditation, breath-control, other relaxation techniques), stress-related illnesses and personalities; complementary therapies (mainstream and culturally specific); and spirituality. This course is an elective in both the undergraduate and graduate social work programs. Cr 3.

SWO 596/696 Topics in Diversity
A variety of elective courses under this title are offered to facilitate students' development of competency in working with different population groups such as those oppressed by race and ethnicity, language, nationality, social class, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, spiritual and religious affiliation, and other factors. Prerequisite: SWO 501 or equivalent as determined by the instructor. Additional prerequisite may be required for some elective courses. Cr 3.

SWO 597 Independent Study
This is an individualized course of study, during the foundation year, on some aspect of social work or social welfare to be selected as a result of consultation between a student and a faculty member. Cr 1-3.

SWO 598/698 Topics in Community Social Work Practice
A variety of elective courses under this title are offered to cover a wide spectrum of micro and macro practice issues. These courses facilitate students' exploration of new practice areas or enhancement of advanced practice skills. Prerequisite: SWO 503 or equivalent as determined by the instructor. Additional prerequisite may be required for some elective courses. Cr 3.

SWO 603 Social Work Practice III: Group Practice
This course focuses on social group work practice that builds upon students' foundation level social work practice skills. The course emphasizes theory about groups and group process and demonstrates the skills necessary for effective practice. Prerequisites: SWO 553, SWO 555. Cr 3.

SWO 604 Social Welfare Policy II
This course provides a theoretical and critical model of analyzing policy processes. It contains an overview of policy analysis with particular emphasis on social conflict theory and social constructionist theories of policy formation. Prerequisites: SWO 504, SWO 554, SWO 555. Cr 3.

SWO 605 Social Work Research II: Social Data Analysis
This course provides an interactive learning environment in which students learn to analyze quantitative and qualitative existing social data. The goal of this course is to increase the analytical competencies of students in the planning, and eventual execution, of a community-based research project. Prerequisite: SWO 505. Cr 3.

SWO 651 Social Work Practice IV: Individuals and Families
This course contextualizes the facilitation of change with individuals and families within organizations and communities. Approaches to social work practice are taught within an ecosystems, strengths-based framework that reflects a commitment to the values of social and economic justice, cultural diversity, and individual and collective self-determination. Prerequisite: SWO 555. Cr 3.

SWO 652 Social Work Research III: The Research Project
This course involves the utilization of the research knowledge and skills learned in SWO 505 Social Work Research I and SWO 605 Social Work Research II, and their application to selected social problems or issues of relevance to the needs of special populations or to the social work profession. Prerequisite: SWO 605. Cr 3.

SWO 654 Field Work and Field Seminar III
A graduate internship during the concentration year at an approved community agency, designed to relate social work theory to practice under professional supervision. Fall semester. Corequisite or prerequisite: SWO 603 or SWO 651. Cr 4.5.

SWO 655 Field Work and Field Seminar IV
A continuation of SWO 654. Spring semester. Corequisite or prerequisite: SWO 651or SWO 603. Prerequisite: SWO 654. Cr 4.5.

SWO 660 Advanced Biopsychosocial Assessment
This course is designed to facilitate the acquisition of practice skills specific to in-depth biopsychosocial assessment. Assessment is viewed as the process of understanding a person in order to formulate a practice approach rather than a fixed descriptive category. This course relies heavily upon theories presented in SWO 502 and SWO 552.
This course is designed to facilitate the acquisition of practice skills for in-depth biopsychosocial assessment within the advanced social work practice curriculum. Knowledge development and skill building for assessment and diagnosis, and the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are covered in this course. Consideration of persons within a cultural context is emphasized throughout. Cr 3.

SWO 695 Thesis Option
In lieu of SWO 652, students may apply to the Research Sequence Curriculum Committee for permission to take the Thesis Option. This option provides structure and assistance to students wishing to complete a formal thesis rather than a research project. Upon completion, the student will present a verbal summary of the thesis at a formal thesis defense meeting. This option may be especially attractive for those students contemplating advanced doctoral-level education in social work or in other social sciences. Cr 6.

SWO 697 Independent Study
This is an individualized course of study, during the concentration year, on some aspect of social work or social welfare to be selected as a result of consultation between a student and a faculty member. Cr 1-3.