Social Work Program

Social Work Program Mission Statement:  

The Social Work program embraces the mission of Alcorn State University. It emphasizes intellectual development and lifelong learning through the integration of diverse pedagogies, applied and basic research, cultural and professional programs, public service and outreach, while providing access to globally competitive academic and research programs. In addition, the program seeks to prepare graduates to be well-rounded future leaders of high character and to be successful in the global marketplace of the 21st century. This is evident in the internship practicum which requires 400 hours of active social work practice with a community agency concerned with matters related to issues such as child welfare, corrections, mental health, rehabilitation, health care, education, and aging.

The Social Work program mirrors several long-range goals of the University. These include goals related to preparing students for scholarships and services, leadership development, meeting the manpower needs of the state and community at large, and providing the foundation for successful pursuit of graduate education.

The Social Work program developed within the framework of the liberal arts tradition is designed to prepare highly competent entry level social work generalist practitioners or graduate school candidates.

Introduction to the Bachelor of Social Work Program

The profession of social work places value on service, social and economic justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence in practice. These values are seen as defining principles for the profession and are reflected in the goals of the Bachelor of Social Work Program, which are to:

  1. Educate students with the necessary knowledge, values, and skills for entry level professional careers as generalist practitioners in social work and for graduate school.
  2. Provide students with a professional social work identity and acceptance of the values and ethics of the profession.
  3. Prepare students to become culturally competent to work with diverse populations, including oppressed, minority and rural populations within the region and globally.

The program incorporates the professional foundation objectives which are essential to the practice of any social worker. Thus, the professional foundation objectives state that graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Apply critical thinking skills within the context of professional social work practice.
  2. Understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards and principles, and practice accordingly.
  3. Practice without discrimination and with respect, knowledge, and skills related to clients’ age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.
  4. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and apply strategies of advocacy and social change that advance social and economic justice.
  5. Understand and interpret the history of the social work profession and its contemporary structures and issues.
  6. Apply the knowledge and skills of generalist social work practice with systems whether these are individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities.
  7. Use theoretical frameworks supported by empirical evidence to understand individual development and behavior across the life span.
  8. Analyze, formulate and influence social policies.
  9. Evaluate research studies, apply research findings to practice, and evaluate their own practice interventions.
  10. Use communication skills deferentially across client populations, colleagues, and communities.
  11. Use supervision and consultation appropriate to social work practice.
  12. Function within the structure of organizations and service delivery systems and seek necessary organizational change.

The program objectives derive from the departmental goals and are stated as knowledge, values and skills outcomes.

Knowledge Outcomes

Students Will: 

Understand the impact of the values of the dominant culture, the economic structure and historic issues of oppression and discrimination upon human growth, development and behavior of at risk populations.

Understand how the six stages of the general problem solving method undergirds all social work practice and is applicable with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

Understand the importance of brokering, linkages and networking when serving clients in rural areas. Students will be expected to develop a local resource manual.

Understand the history of social welfare policy and will be able to articulate how federal, state, local and agency policies affect both client needs and social welfare services.

Learn through field placement how subject matter of the undergraduate curriculum integrates into a cohesive whole.

Understand and utilize the strengths perspective in social work practice.

Learn to interpret research articles, and to conduct basic research such as needs assessments, program evaluations, and evaluations of his/her own practice.

Utilize critical thinking skills to separate facts from assumptions in a case before identifying and prioritizing problems.

Values Outcomes

Students Will: 

Accept that all persons are dignified and worthy human beings, regardless of their lifestyles or reasons the client is seeking or has been ordered to seek social work services.

Work for a caring and democratic society, seeking to help client systems confront oppression and working to empower client systems.

Accept diverse lifestyles in a non-judgmental manner and not impose their religious, political or personal views on clients.

Be encouraged to enhance their personal social work identities and to incorporate social work values, ethics and professional behaviors into their practice through involvement in community activities and membership in professional organizations.

Skills Outcomes

Students Will: 

Effectively engage with client systems so that the client feels comfortable in presenting his/her view of the problem and a positive helping relationship is established.

Effectively advocate for and with clients in ways that help them gain control over their environment.

Effectively assess client needs from environmental and cultural perspectives.

Develop a positive contact with the client and help the client develop an effective intervention system.

Provide ongoing monitoring of the helping relationship so that changes in the intervention strategy can be implemented as necessary and termination can be planned for in an appropriate and timely manner.

Function effectively within agency/organization, accepting supervision as necessary and giving input to social work staff for the improvement of social service delivery as appropriate.

Effectively communicate their activities on individual cases in both oral and written formats. Learn to utilize appropriate technology in social work practice.

Definition of Generalist Practice

Generalist practice is defined as the use of the problem solving process to intervene with systems of various sizes, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. By problem solving process, we are referring to a step-by-step model that includes engaging with the client, assessing problem areas and identifying strengths, creating and carrying out an intervention plan, evaluating the success of that intervention, and terminating the client practitioner relationship. The generalist operates within the systems and person-in-environment framework and recognizes that many problems require intervention with more than one system (Boyle, Hull, Mather, Smith and Farley, 2009; CSWE, 2003). In general, the student is taught to utilize the general problem solving method, underscored by a combination of social work values, knowledge and skills, to help client systems maintain positive transaction with their environments. The program places special emphasis upon helping minority and at-risk clients successfully transact their rural environments.

Through liberal arts content, students acquire the knowledge, values, skills and attitudes consistent with the values of generalist social work practice and a generalist social work perspective. Undergraduate liberal arts content in human biology, sociology, political science, psychology, economics, English literature and composition, mathematics, the humanities and history are prerequisites for a major in social work. Content from these disciplines permeate the social work foundation curriculum. Content from the liberal arts is built upon throughout the curriculum. 

Content in English composition and literature also provide a firm foundation for our curriculum. Writing is emphasized and required in all social work courses. Students must be able to develop professional written communication skills. They do this by writing papers and essays in their different classes. In field internships, they must be able to write professional case recordings and reports. In addition, they must demonstrate oral facility during class presentations. Students are also encouraged to submit proposals and make presentations at professional conferences.

Literary and humanities content is included in Human Behavior in the Social Environment, which deals with mezzo, macro and micro perspectives. Students are required to read relevant books and articles and use the literature to discuss the development of institutions, and laws and conflicts in society. They also learn to integrate knowledge of the visual arts, theater and music into their understanding of values, beliefs and customs of specific cultures and societies.