Course Descriptions

First Year (Generalist Practice)

MSWPF-GS.2001, MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2100, MSWFD-GS.2200. Co-requisites: MSWPF-GS.2001 & MSWFD-GS. 2100 or MSWFD-GS.3100; MSWPF-GS.2002 & MSWFD-GS.2200 or MSWFD-GS.3200 (Except for OYRS)

The Integrated Social Work Practice I and II and Field Instruction I and II courses are taught concurrently by the Practice Instructor and the Faculty Advisor(s). Students remain with the same Practice Instructor and Faculty Advisor for both semesters in the Foundation year.

The purpose of the Social Work Practice Course I and II is to teach students the generalist perspective of social work practice which emphasizes the importance of working across a range of systems that includes individuals (adults, children and adolescents), couples, families, agencies and communities. This approach maintains a focus on the interaction between systems, also known as the person-in-environment perspective. It is expected that students will develop a broad approach to social work practice through the use of different modalities and an understanding of the choice and application of interventive approaches, and an understanding of the link between theory and practice skills.

The purpose of the Field Instruction Course is to facilitate the development of the student as a professional social worker who can enter the practice arena in any setting of practice, be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, perform direct social work practice skills, and act according to social work ethics and values.

Social Work Practice/ Field Instruction I and II provide a generalist foundation and systemic framework that emphasizes the inter-relatedness of clients, the environment, and society. Utilizing a systemic, biopsychosocial/cultural perspective, an understanding of the connection between client, agency and policy practice, and building upon resilience, empowerment, developmental, ego-psychological and organizational theories, students are taught to work with diverse clients in the urban environment and to apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.

Integrated Practice/Field II also builds on the values, knowledge and skills and behaviors introduced in Integrated Social Work Practice I & Field Instruction I and helps students to better understand short-term, crisis and extended interventions models; self-evaluation and evaluation of practice approaches and models; agency and community practice; advanced practice skills with individuals and families, and the process of termination.

The Integrated Practice/Field courses (Practice/Field Instruction I and II) during the Foundation year help students to understand, learn and behave appropriately in their professional social work roles; to engage with and comprehensively assess their clients in the field placement (including individuals, families, groups and communities) within the contexts of their social environments, agency functioning, and social programs and policies; and to promote, restore and enhance clients' social functioning and as such become agent of change. Students are expected to utilize critical thinking to link social work theories with appropriate practice skills, to critically evaluate their work and the provision of agency services, and to familiarize themselves with research-informed practice.

The core concepts and skills that are introduced in Integrative Social Work Practice/Field Instruction I and II will be further developed in the required and elective Practice and Field Instruction courses in the advanced concentration year. In Field Instruction II students move from the beginning skill level attained in Field Instruction I to generalist practice competence based on creative use of knowledge, value commitments, conceptual ability, and practice skills within the context of their agency.

MSWPF-GS.2003 3 credits. Prerequisite: None; Co-requisite: None; Open to Non-Matriculating Students

The profession of social work has historically engaged in activities directed toward the promotion of a just society. In order to carry out this central function, social workers must be able to assess the systemic roots of inequality that promote social and economic injustice and understand the implications of institutionalized discrimination and oppression for individuals, families and communities. Social workers practicing in complex urban environments of today must be knowledgeable about ways in which globalization broadens the frame for viewing issues of social justice to a concern for oppressed populations worldwide. As major providers of social welfare benefits, social workers must also have an understanding of the organization and structure of the social welfare system and how social services are funded. SWPPI is a required course of the professional foundation year, and prepares students for concentrated study in a specific policy area in Policy II taken in the advanced concentration year. The course explores the interplay between values, political and economic structures and how these impact social welfare policy development, create or limit access and availability to social welfare services and benefits, and examines the nature of poverty in the United States. Emphasis is placed on social work practice in the urban environment to enhance understanding of the impact of social welfare policies on oppressed populations of historic concern to the profession like the poor, women, minorities, immigrant groups, as well as the mentally and physically disabled, the elderly, children and families, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

MSWPF-GS.2006 3 credits. Prerequisite: None; Co-requisite: None; Open to Non-Matriculating Students

Human Behavior in the Social Environment I is centered in the bio-psycho-social perspective, which stresses a multi-dimensional view of human development and behavior. This multi-dimensional view of person in the context of the environment takes into consideration the challenges, stressors and life tasks that occur throughout the life cycle. The individual in his/her environment is seen as a unit where component elements can only be understood in their relationship to each other. The course stresses the centrality of culture, race, ethnicity, gender and the socioeconomic environment.

Using systems theory as a critical theoretical underpinning, Human Behavior in the Social Environment I stresses a non-linear view of development in which there is a continuous reciprocal interchange and mutual impact among different systems (individual, family, group, community). A major focus of the course is on development of the human biological, psychological and social structure as it occurs throughout the life span. Human Behavior in the Social Environment I covers the life cycle from birth to late childhood. Human Behavior in the Social Environment II continues from early adolescence to old age.

The course stresses the need for the development of critical thinking throughout, an examination of the gaps in knowledge that exists in developmental theory, and the role that research plays in knowledge building. The linkages of theories to practice and policy implications are also stressed.

MSWPF-GS.2007 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2006; Co-requisite: None; Open to Non-Matriculating Students

The Human Behavior in the Social Environment II course is centered in the bio- psycho-social perspective, which stresses a multi-dimensional view of human development and behavior. This multi-dimensional view of person in the context of the environment takes into consideration the challenges, stressors and life tasks that occur throughout the life cycle. The individual in his/her environment is seen as a unit where component elements can only be understood in their relationship to each other. The course stresses the centrality of culture, race, ethnicity, gender and the socioeconomic environment.

Using systems theory as a critical theoretical underpinning, Human Behavior in the Social Environment II stresses a non-linear view of development in which there is a continuous reciprocal interchange and mutual impact among different systems (individual, family, group, community). A major focus of the course is on development of the human biological, psychological and social structure as it occurs throughout the life span. Human Behavior in the Social Environment I covers the life cycle from birth to late childhood. Human Behavior in the Social Environment II continues from early adolescence to old age.

The course stresses the need for the development of critical thinking throughout, an examination of the gaps in knowledge that exist in developmental theory, and the role that research plays in knowledge building. The linkages of theories to practice and policy implications are also stressed.

MSWPF-GS.2009 3 credits. Prerequisite: None; Co-requisite: None

Grounded in an appreciation of the various paths to knowledge and the strengths and weaknesses of each, the temporary and ever-evolving nature of knowledge, and the implication of research methodologies for the hierarchy of evidence underlying assertions, this foundation course introduces students to the basic elements, concepts, methods, logic and issues of empirical research. The goal of the course is to prepare students to become more sophisticated and discerning users of and potential contributors to the social work knowledge base.

MSWPF-GS.2010 3 credits. Prerequisite: None; Co-requisite: None; Open to Non-Matriculating Students

This course is designed to help social work students work more effectively with clients from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is premised on the idea that there are three distinct and equally essential components to developing cultural consciousness: awareness of self, of the client, and of systems of oppression and privilege that contribute to our own self-concept as well as our perceptions of others.

To address the first component, the course challenges students to engage in a deep exploration of their own cultural identities, values, and biases in a number of areas: childhood and family, race, social class, gender and sexual identity, as well as other cultures. A core concept of this class is that in order to minimize bias and maximize the capacity for empathy in the treatment of all clients, it is imperative that the practitioner engage in ongoing self-exploration.

Throughout the course, students will be asked to broaden and deepen their knowledge about and awareness of cultures and identities outside their own. The lectures and readings provide an introduction to a variety of cultures, with the understanding that the process of knowing any culture other than one's own is a formidable undertaking far beyond the scope of any single course. The focus is therefore less on specific cultural traditions and norms, and more on cultivating skills that encourage the client to articulate their personal experience and definition of their own culture(s).

The third component to the course is an understanding of social identity formation on a macro level: the systems of privilege, marginalization, invisibility and oppression that become inextricably bound to an individual or group's self-concept, as well as to the way the group is perceived by society. Concepts of intersectionality, social identity construction, and systemic oppression will be explored.

Finally, throughout the course, students will be introduced to clinical concepts that are central to the challenges of cross-cultural client work. Clinical examples will be used to illustrate these concepts. These concepts include but are not limited to: transference, countertransference, cultural countertransference, and intersubjectivity.

MSWPF-GS 2014 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2001

This course is a required foundation level course that students take in their spring semester. The course considers the importance of group factors on the macro and micro levels, as well as the increased need for and use of groups in a variety of agency settings. All students are required to take this course, which incorporates didactic and experiential teaching methods. The system and empowerment theories, strengths perspective, biopsychosocial assessment, goal setting and group intervention skills covered in the Practice I and II courses are elaborated upon and discussed in relation to one's values, ethics and professional use of self in groups.

The overall objectives of the course are to help students develop an appreciation for the distinguishing features of group work and to provide them with the knowledge, skills and values essential to direct practice with groups in a variety of settings. A curriculum change enacted by the full-time faculty in the 2004-2005 academic year moved the Groups course from the advanced concentration level to the foundation level. The change was made to accommodate many students leading groups in their first year placements and lacking the theoretical framework for running groups.

MSWPF-GS.2003 3 credits. Prerequisite: None; Co-requisite: None; Open to Non-Matriculating Students

This course will take place entirely online via NYU Classes. Most of the requirements -- which include 100 pages or less of weekly reading (multiple choice quizzes on the reading, video lectures totaling about one hour each week), short-answer learning checks on the lectures, discussion board postings (requiring you to write about three solid paragraphs per week), and a final essay and final multiple-choice exam -- can be fulfilled at any time you wish during the week they are due. However, all students must be available for weekly group discussions and live lectures that will take place on Mondays from 6:45-7:45 PM, for which you will need a computer with audio (a microphone) and video (a camera) capabilities. Live office hours, which are optional, will take place immediately after, Mondays from 7:45-8:25. Students may be required to complete a brief online orientation before the first class session.

MSWAC-GS.2001 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2007, MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200

This course has both online and offline instruction.  The online component will be offered on Fridays from 12:00pm - 12:50pm. Students must be available to participate at that time for the group discussion and interactive lecture. Access to a computer with audio (a microphone) and video (a camera) capabilities is required to participate in the online component.  In addition, students are expected to view taped lectures, read assigned articles/chapters, and complete discussion prompts prior to when the class meets online every Friday. The readings and off line participation will require a 2- 2.5 hour commitment.  This course will have a paper mid-term exam, and an on-line take-home final exam. Students may be required to complete a brief online orientation before the first class session.

Second Year (Specialized Practice)

MSWAC-GS.2002 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200; Co-requisite: MSWFD-GS.2300, MSWFD-GS.2500 or MSWFD-GS.3400

This course builds upon the content provided in the professional foundation year and is based on social work values, ethics, practice models and principles, and person-in-environment perspectives. The overall goal of this course is to help students deepen and extend their assessment and intervention skills in work with individuals and families who face challenges with a range of problems commonly found in an urban environment, including mental illness, substance abuse, trauma, physical illness, disability, and poverty. Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the major theories that inform clinical practice with individuals and families including ego psychology, object relations, family systems theory, cognitive behavioral theory, narrative theory, theories of change, and other emergent theories.

The criteria for the differential use of practice methods are taught. Content related to diversity (e.g., racial, ethnic, class, religious, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability) and oppression is integrated with an understanding of the concepts of power and privilege. Drawing on students' case material and selected video presentations, the course applies individual and family interventive principles to selected client problems in the urban environment.

MSWAC-GS.2009 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWAC-GS.2002; Co-requisite: MSWFD-GS.2400, MSWFD-GS.2600 or MSWFD-GS.3600

This course is the last required Practice course offered in the final semester of the Advanced Concentration. The course objectives are three-fold; (1) to help students synthesize what has been learned in different sequences; (2) to consolidate their social work identity; and (3) to prepare them for termination from clients, their field work agency, the school, and their student status, and enter the profession of Social Work.

The course begins with revisiting issues examined in Practice and Policy in the Foundation year, namely, their motivation for seeking training at a graduate school of social work, and the nature of this profession, i.e., the distinctiveness of the social work profession with its dual commitment to direct practice and to affect social justice in work with poor, diverse and oppressed populations. Review of the Code of Ethics is expanded with readings and class presentations on ethical issues and dilemmas, and efforts to resolve them using guidelines for ethical decision making.

Direct practice with traumatized clients and the effects of secondary trauma, a common by-product, are also explored. The seminar examines current professional and practice issues in the urban environment, focusing on issues related to current health policies and managed care. Students discuss the supervisory process from the vantage point of both supervisor and supervisee. They are assisted in preparing for career planning and helped to identify the nature of various career paths in agency and private practice and are then introduced to the issues related to social work licensing in New York State. The course also addresses the nature of professional liability, standards, accountability, importance of evidence-informed practice and methods of monitoring and evaluating practice, therapeutic boundaries, the problems of burn-out, avenues for renewal and professional growth, and ways of contributing to the profession. Throughout the course, emphasis is given to the transition and termination process from student to professional social worker and to the importance of and commitment to the students' own professional growth and the need to engage in career-long learning.

MSWAC-GS.2001 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2007, MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200

Human Behavior in the Social Environment III (HBSEIII) is designed to expand and deepen the theoretical and empirical knowledge base of the biopsychosocial factors underlying our concepts of mental health and illness. Students will be introduced to the multiaxial system of symptoms diagnosis and the methods and criteria used in making differential decisions about psychiatric diagnoses. They will be expected to be aware of the multiple problems that signal areas of concern regarding individual and family functioning and the centrality of culture, race, ethnicity, and gender in the diagnostic process. Each diagnostic category will include manifestations of the disorder as reflected in the life cycle.

The main diagnostic entities that will be explored include schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, major mood disorders, anxiety and somatoform disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, substance-related disorders, eating disorders, delirium, dementia, dissociative disorders and major personality disorders. The significance of labeling, stigma, and bias with regard to the diagnostic process will be critically appraised and critiqued throughout the course in keeping with the values and ethics of social work practice and issues of social justice. This bibliography contains suggested further readings on childhood diagnostic components.

MSWAC-GS.2008 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2009, MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200

The overall goal of Research II is to provide students with an understanding of how research is used to evaluate social work practice and programs. The course is designed to provide students with an overview of the methods, concepts, and principles of practice and program evaluation research in order to become practitioners who can engage in self-directed evaluation of their own practice and to make meaningful contributions to program evaluation efforts.

The course focuses on what constitutes a "program," identifying the mission, goals, and social work role within a program, understanding the implications of the organizational history and context of a program, the types and purposes of practice and program evaluation designs, measurement and data collection options, ethical and cultural considerations in the design and implementation of program and practice evaluation, anticipating the possibly diverse interests of various stakeholders in evaluation, and assessing the evaluability of a program.

Students are expected to apply previously acquired knowledge of the scientific approach and research methods to the evaluation of social work practice and programs. Emphasis will be placed upon extending research mindedness and critical thinking skills to the design, implementation, and assessment of evaluations of individual clients and programs.

MSWAC-GS.20xx. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2003; MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200

This advanced concentration course examines urban social problems from the perspective of their impact on individuals, families and communities, focusing on at-risk populations in the context of an urban environment. The course builds on the policy content offered in the Professional Foundation Year and links policy to practice and research skills that have been developed. Emphasis is placed on the link between social and economic justice and issues relating to diversity. The first part of the course is an examination of the policy making cycle, inclusive of social problem definition, policy formulation, implementation and critical analysis of policy. A detailed section on evaluation of policies as they affect societal structures, communities, agencies, clients and practitioners is then discussed. Finally, a major section of the course presents theories related to organizational change and strategies for practitioners to influence policies and promote change at the client level, the agency level, the community level and the broader society.

MSWFD-GS.2300 (Field III) and MSWFD-GS.2400 (Field IV); MSWFD-GS.2500 (OYR-A) and MSWFD-GS.2600 (OYR-B) or MSWFD-GS.3400 (32MO -IV), MSWFD-GS.3500 (32MO- V) and MSWFD-GS.3600(32MO -VI). Prerequisite: MSWPF-GS.2002 and MSWFD-GS.2200 or MSWFD-GS.3300; Co-requisite for MSWFD-GS.2300, MSWFD-GS.2500 & MSWFD-GS.3400: MSWAC-GS.2002; Co-requisite for MSWFD-GS.2400, MSWFD-GS.2600 & MSWFD-GS.3600: MSWAC-GS.2009

Field Instruction III and IV build on the objectives achieved in the professional foundation Integrated Practice/Field I and II courses. Students move from a generalist perspective to advanced clinical practice with complex individual, families, group and larger communities/organizational client systems. It strives to deepen knowledge and skills and further the level of mastery in direct practice with individuals, families, and groups. Finally, the purpose of Field Instruction III and IV is to facilitate the development of the student as a professional social worker who can enter the practice arena in any setting of practice, be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom, perform direct social work practice skills, and act according to social work ethics and values.

During the advanced concentration, all students enrolled in field instruction are assigned to advisors who guide students in field matters. Contact is primarily on an individual basis, but may also occur in small group meetings. The Faculty Advisor serves as the school's liaison to the field agency and works with the field instructor and the student to ensure the educational integrity of the field experience. In this role, Faculty Advisors monitor important aspects of the placement including assignments given to the student, the student/field instructor working relationship, and student progress in mastery of learning objectives for the course. The Faculty Advisor can assist with any challenges that arise in maintaining the educational integrity of the placement throughout the placement year.

Students are not allowed to progress into advanced concentration placement without the completion of all professional foundation requirements. In addition, Field III must be taken concurrently with MSWAC-GS.2002: Social Work Practice III. Field IV must be taken concurrently with MSWAC-GS.2009: Social Work Practice IV. Should extended placement hours be required, a practice elective must be taken concurrently.

MSWFD-GS.2500 6 credits. Corequisites: MSWAC-GS.2002 and Professional Foundation Curriculum.

This course is required of all students in the One-Year Residence Program. It provides 450 hours of supervised practice experience in an approved agency in the fall semester of the year of residence.

MSWFD-GS.2600 7 credits. Prerequisite: MSWFD-GS.2500. Corequisite: MSWAC-GS.2009.

This course, a continuation of MSWFD-GS.2500, is required of all students in the One-Year Residence Program. It provides 450 hours of supervised practice experience in the spring semester of the year of residence.