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Campus Compact > Syllabi > Graduate Course > Policies and Services that Enhance Community Participation and Well-Being

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Policies and Services that Enhance Community Participation and Well-Being

School: University of Michigan
Professor: Larry M. Gant

  1. Course Description
    This course will analyze those policies and services that promote or inhibit the development of civil society, enhance or deny human rights, and contribute to the attainment of social justice or sustain the existence of social injustice. Emphasis will be placed on those policies and services which serve to enhance social participation, economic security, respect for diversity, voluntary action, and community and corporate responsibility. The course will also integrate an intensive focus on how policies and services, particularly at the local level, maintain or diminish the existence of oppression and privilege in U.S. society. Programs provided by various units of government, nonprofit and social service organizations, and corporations will be reviewed, and various partnerships and collaborations among funders, service providers, and community groups will be examined. The course will also explore ways in which the involvement of community members can lead to the construction of socially just policies and services that can overcome the effects of privilege and oppression.
  2. Course Content
    Students will learn that community well-being is enhanced when social problems are managed, human needs are met, and social opportunities and human rights are optimized. Both problems and needs are the outcome of interactions between individuals, collectivities, and the larger society. The implications of these interactions will be examined in the context of a diverse society, with special attention given to the relationship between policy development and implementation, the attainment of social justice goals, and the eradication of oppression and privilege. Attributes of such policies and programs include, but are not limited to, enhanced opportunities for social participation, economic security, heightened respect for diversity, increased voluntary action, and greater corporate responsibility.

    Selected laws, programs, and structures that enhance citizen participation within diverse populations will be described and compared. Emphasis will be placed on those that enable the sustained and meaningful participation of diverse and oppressed populations and on the social worker?s responsibility for facilitating such participation. Examples will include the use of mediating structures, such as citizen boards, advisory groups, commissions, and consumer involvement in promoting and guiding positive social change. In many of these, participation is intended to enhance citizen capacity to
    initiate and oversee action. However, participatory structures are also intended to assure the responsiveness of programs of a promotional, service, or preventive nature. These programs are designed to promote social justice by reducing poverty and economic insecurity; address personal crises and community emergencies (such as those brought about by violence against persons and property, nature and environmental disasters, war and terrorism, or economic dislocation); resettle and integrate refugees and other immigrant populations; overcome the consequences of privilege; and respond to the needs of oppressed groups seeking social justice (e.g., women, racial, religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, the disabled, and other oppressed groups). In addition, the participatory opportunities provided via self-help, grassroots associations and informal networks, and congregational-based service providers will be explored.

  3. Course Objectives
    Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

    1. Within the context of a diverse society, analyze relevant policies and services that promote social justice, encourage social participation, community well-being, human rights, and economic security, and enable individuals and groups to overcome the consequences of privilege and oppression.
    2. Demonstrate familiarity with selected aspects of the structures, legal standing, and roles of the nonprofit sector in providing human services, advocating for human rights, and promoting community participation and well-being.
    3. Locate and apply commonly used indicators of social, economic, and other measures of community well-being to diverse populations that are experiencing the effects of social injustice and oppression.
    4. Analyze how privilege, oppression, and injustice affect the levels and types of participation possible and desirable for members or representatives of diverse communities in mediating structures that are intended to promote well-being.
    5. Identify the political, social, economic, and cultural factors that lead to or detract from such participation among oppressed populations.
    6. Understand the roles social workers can play at the community level in promoting the well-being and sustained participation of its members.
  4. Course Design
    In-class activities, readings, and course assignments will be coordinated so as to enhance course objectives. For example, simulations of real-work processes, films, videos, and speakers presented in the classroom will provide the contextual background for student assignments in the community. Lectures by the instructor will be complemented by student presentations and by speakers representing consumers, providers, professionals, and volunteers involved in advocacy, community education, and service delivery.
  5. Relationship of the Course to Curricular Themes
    • Multiculturalism and Diversity will be addressed in this course through the emphasis on enhancing the well-being and community participation of populations and groups that have been historically subject to discrimination, injustice, and
      oppression. The issues to be examined will include the motivations for, content, and impact of laws and regulations affecting human rights and nondiscrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, religion, and sexual orientation.
    • Social Justice and Social Change underlie the creation of mediating structures, programs, and policies expressly designed to enhance community well-being. Students will examine these issues as well as social work?s historical engagement in planned change and the meaning of its underlying commitment to social justice in the contemporary environment.
    • Promotion, Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation will be examined in terms of whether programs and policies are effective or ineffective in their promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation efforts. Sometimes, programs designed to express these themes complement each other ? for example, when participation enhances promotion and prevention, and both are part of a comprehensive strategy of change. The course will also focus on how policies and services can promote the goal of social justice and, by addressing the structural causes of privilege and oppression, prevent the emergence or reemergence of their consequences. For these reasons, the extent to which programs and policies are infused with these themes and how they interact with each other will receive critical analysis.
    • Behavioral and Social Science Research. This course will be based on the twin assumptions that the programs and policies to be studied can be understood through social scientific methods and that scientific concepts can also be used in the design of effective programs and policies. However, even this assumption needs analysis. Scientific perspectives can lead to very different interpretations of social issues and, consequently, different policy and programmatic responses. For
      example, much of sociology can be divided into (1) structural/functionalist perspectives which advocate the eliminating of cultural and behavioral skill differences between groups and the legal, economic, and other barriers to full participation; and (2) conflict perspectives, which assume that societies tend towards conflict because power and resources are inequitably distributed and that, in the long run, conflict is positive because it increases the likelihood of expanding access
      to social goods. These perspectives infuse many of the readings and analyses presented in this course. Applying one or the other can lead to different interpretations of events and social processes and to very different social agendas and programs for social change. For this reason, even the social science knowledge base of this course will itself be subject to examination.
    • Social Work Ethics and Values. This course will address ethical and value issues related to policies and services directed at social participation and community wellbeing. The NASW Code of Ethics and other sources of the profession?s ideology and values will be used to inform practice in this area. Special emphasis will be placed on the social worker?s responsibility to promote social justice in a diverse society by preventing and eliminating discrimination, oppression, and privilege, ensuring equal access to resources, expanding choices and opportunities for all persons, encouraging respect for diversity, advocating for changes in social policies, and encouraging informed participation by the public. In addition, ethical issues related to working with various client systems will be reviewed, such as the meaning of self-determination in a multicultural society, the impact of information technology on client confidentiality and privacy rights, and the concept of the client?s interest, proper and improper relationships with clients, interruption of services, and termination.

      Relationship to Intensive Focus Content

      Social Work 647 is one of the concentration courses designed to provide intensive on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice. Materials on these four themes are woven in to the four curricular themes described above and are integral aspects of course readings, assignments, activities, and exercises. Methods for developing and implementing practice that addresses the IF content are a major theme of Social Work 647.

  6. Required reading:
    Levitt, Steven and Dubner, Stephen (2005). Freakonomics: A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. New York: Morrow.

A coursepack of required readings is available at Excel Text Preparation, 1117 South University Avenue. Students are also encouraged to read either print or electronic versions of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Detroit Free Press daily. The Economist is excellent weekly reading. Additional documents and web-based readings will be assigned during the semester. We will also make heavy use of selected websites ? most notably the Brookings Institution Website, and we will take some articles from Salamon?s The Resilient Sector and The State of NonProfit America.

Course Quizzes, Reflection Papers and Projects:

Area 1 Assignments: Reflection papers provide 15% of your final grade
Area 2 Assignments: Exams provide 25% of your final grade;
Area 3 Assignment : Community Policy Integration Project provides 60% of your final
grade

Area 1Assignments: Reflection Papers. For these assignments, students will be split into two groups (A and B); these groups are for the purpose of the reflection paper assignment only! As well,the groups will hold across both SW 647 section 1 and SW 697 section 1. Students will submit reflection papers based on the readings for both SW 647 section 1 and SW 697 section 1 every other week. (Students in one but not both of these couses/sections will submit reflection papers based on the readings for the course/section for Gant/Spencer that they are in.)

Reflection papers should reflect upon and integrate material in the readings (for each course) with your personal experience and or your field work experience. Reflection papers will incorporate one or more aspects of our focus on privilege, oppression, diversity and social justice. Postings to coursetools should be brief and concise, about 2
pages in length. Reflection papers should be posted every week on the Friday prior to class, and will be posted to the SW 647 (Gant) Coursetools (Next Generation) site. Late postings will not earn credit. The reflection entries will count
towards 15% of your grade.

Area 2 Assignments: Quizzes (25% of Grade): Four graded miniquizzes ( with lowest grade dropped): Each quiz consists of 5 questions, each worth 20 points. Questions can be of any format. Quizzes will be completed usually during the first hour of class, and are designed to be completed in 20 minutes or less. Students are urged to complete the sample quiz on the course website, available during the second week of classes.

Quiz Dates: Material Covered
February 14, 2006: Up to 2/7/06
March 28, 2006: Up to 3/21/06
April 4, 2006: Up to 3/28
April 18, 2006: Up to 4/11/06

Area 3 Assignment : Community Policy Analysis and Integration Project [AKA
Group Project] (60% of Grade):

Part 1: Social Problem: definition, identification, estimates of magnitude, causes and consequences of problem, due Mar. 15th, 100 points possible
Part 2: Social policy/program analysis: identify appropriate social policies to ameliorate the problem, due Apr. 12th, 200 points possible
Part 3. Community/Public Presentation, due Apr. 19th, 100 points possible
Part 4. Conclusions, outline, implementation and evaluation of advocacy strategy + Replication Manual (include
documents from all parts): Draw conclusions about the current fit between policy and social problem solution, and outline/implement an advocacy strategy, providing an initial assessment of the policy advocacy strategy (e.g., consciousness raising, solution generation, planning, implementing plan, monitoring activity), due Apr. 26th, 100 points possible

This assignment relates to both SW 647 and 697 (Spencer Section). In our second or third class session you will sign up for a working group presentation that will work on policy assessment and community relevance advocacy of a specific dimension of the SW Detroit Neighborhood. For the students in the Spencer Section of SW 697, you will retain the same group configuration for SW 647. Students not in the Spencer Section of SW 697 will have the opportunity to sign up for of the existing groups during the second or third SW 647 class session.

Students will break into groups to conduct evaluations of identified projects of Community Based Initiative interest and development (2002-2006). IRB approval has already been obtained for these projects; of necessity, some approaches and strategies will have already been outlined in general fashion. The strict time constraints argue against individual projects or projects reflecting a student interest outside of the identified projects. These analysis and implementation papers should complement the papers to be done (on the same project) in the Spencer section of SW 697.

For Winter 2006, the projects are as follows:

REACH?Developing sustainability policy for Family Health Advocates
Community Arts Initiative?Create dialogue and policy impact for creation of artspace in SW Detroit (interface with Cool Cities Initiative)
Bridging Communities and Springwells Villiage?Developing homeless policy for Community Development in SW Detroit

This assignment will use multiple methods for policy assessment and advocacy that will be covered in the throughout the class. Time will be provided each week for student groups to work on the project and ?field work? time will be provided during one or more class sessions. These findings will be complied into a report to be shared with our community partners at a presentation on April 19. Remember to incorporate our focus on privilege, oppression, diversity and social justice. The presentation is worth 100 points. The instructor will allocate these points according to established criteria for
presentations (see page 19).

In many cases, the assessment activities outlined in SW697 can be informed by a review of relevant policy. As well, the assessment activities can lead to or serve as part of a policy advocacy strategy ? one developed by students and community stakeholders. In all cases, you will receive considerable support and direction from both instructors of each class ? as well as the staff of CBI. Also, while some groups may addresses interpersonal services and not community level activities, policies still play a role in determining the form and structure of service delivery, whether that service delivery is delivered at a micro (interpersonal) level or a more macro (neighborhood on up) level.

Replication manual: In order to integrate the course content with the practice work in the field experience, the focus of this assignment will be to assess and document what you learned from one group project in the field. Your manual should include your protocols, references, documents from your organization, written products related to the case, as well as a final product written for our community partners that synthesizes the content from both SW 647 and 697 (where possible and where relevant) in a user friendly, accessible way. The documents/presentations will be on our CBI and other websites.

More detail for the Community Policy Analysis and Integration Project:

Several good models that can guide such an analysis exist within the social work literature (Karger & Stoesz, 2002, Chapter 2; & Colby, 1989, pg. 2). Depending on the social worker's role and preparation for making an analysis, it is possible to approach this important task in greater or lesser depth. You can use either of the referenced models for analysis or you may use the framework provided here. You must provide a reference citation for whatever model you choose to use.

NOTE: It is very, very important that you acquire a copy of the appropriate regulations at your earliest.

The following model has three sections, each distinct from the other. In the first section, only the social problem is to be discussed. In the second section, only the social policy/social program (designed to address the social problem) is to be discussed. DO NOT discuss social problem in the second section. In the third section, based on your analysis in sections one and two, discuss your conclusion and recommendations.

Note: Use sub-titles in your paper.

  1. Part I. Social Problem: The first step in the analysis of a social policy or program is to have a clear understanding of the social problem that created the situation requiring such a policy. To assess this problem, it is useful to undertake the following activities (100 points):
    1. Identify how the problem is defined and locate estimates of its magnitude. For example, what definition(s) of poverty, mental illness, or unemployment is(are) commonly used? How many people experience this problem as it is defined? What particular sub-populations are most likely to face this problem?
    2. Determine the causes and consequences of the problem. What social factors have caused this problem? What has been the result? Are there multiple causes? Are there multiple consequences from a single cause? What are they? Describe.
  2. Part II. Social policy and program analysis: Once the problem is understood, the second step is to identify an appropriate social policy (regulation & not the law)/ program policy in place to ameliorate the problem. E.g., CSR= Code of State Regulations (www.state.mi.us/ and click on Code of State Regulations). Read the key elements and characteristics of the regulations and while analyzing address the following 8 points in some detail. Use journal articles and interview data as sources of information (200 points):
    1. Summarize the policy/program in one short paragraph.
    2. Nature of services available.
    3. Who is eligible to benefit from the policy/ program & the size of primary target population.
    4. List major categories of people affected (directly and indirectly; positively or negatively) by the policy and identify the type of effect, e.g., in a new health policy:

      Physicians?directly affected because their reimbursement levels will be affected and the types of services they can provide will also be influenced?.. (how).
      Patients?will be directly affected because the nature of choices available to them in terms of doctors and procedures, that are reimbursable, will decline.
      Employers?will be affected indirectly because all employers, regardless of the size of the employment, have to offer health and mental health coverage to the employees.

    5. Overt (expressed in written format) goals of the policy/program.
    6. Values underlying these goals (refer to social work values). Indicate how the goals exemplify specific values. Each goal illustrates a social work value. List the goal and then describe how one or more social work values are conveyed through the goal.
    7. Actual effect (effect once the policy is executed) on the target population. What actually happens when the policy is implemented? Actual effects could be very different from the goals. Review journal articles on program/ policy evaluation to address this point.
    8. What is the cost of implementing this policy? What part of the federal/ state budget is consumed by this policy/ program? What is the American sentiment towards this policy?
      Suggested sources of information for I and II: Journal articles; research articles; Internet sites; interviews with agency personnel, legislators, aides etc.; reports prepared by professionals/ think tanks.
  3. Part 3. Draw conclusions, outline and implement advocacy strategy, and provide initial assessment of this strategy: After analysis, it is necessary to judge the merits of the policy/ program. Ultimately, it is the weight of the evidence matched with one's beliefs about what the quality of life should be for the beneficiaries of the policy that will affect the recommendations. Answers to the following questions might be considered in arriving at your conclusion about the policy/proposal (50 points):
    • Is the existing policy/program appropriate for addressing the problem identified? Why? Why not? Explain.
    • If it is not, to what extent? What will you recommend? Describe it. How does your recommendation deal with the causes & the consequences of the problem? However, if the existing policy is adequate, indicate how it addresses
      the causes and consequences of the problem. With a solid analysis of the policy or program proposal in hand, a social worker is prepared to influence the legislation that would impact the social problem under consideration. At times, the social worker will work through agencies or interest groups to affect these decisions; on other occasions, it is more appropriate to contact a legislator directly and express a position on the proposal [Content of Policy II].

Additional Points:

Writing details: Write the paper using APA format. Use of correct grammar is mandatory. Points will be deducted for incorrect grammar. Type this paper, double-spaced in a report format and make use of sub-headings.

  1. DO NOT split the group according to the sections of this paper. Group members cannot contribute their fair share to a project if this method of task distribution is employed.
  2. Give responsibilities during task group meetings each week and ensure that they are fulfilled during the next meeting.
  3. Distinguish a law/ legislation from a regulation. The latter are available on line, or in state codes and the Federal Register. For analysis, you need a copy of the regulations and not the law.
  4. Please submit drafts of the analysis in a timely fashion.
  5. If issues and concerns related to group process are not solved by the members within a week, kindly bring this to the notice of the professor. All issues concerning the content of the paper (e.g., difficulty in finding the regulations) should be brought to the attention of the professor as soon as possible.
  6. For the purposes of this paper, a social problem in any community is different from the negative effects of an existing social welfare policy. Social problems, as explained in the course, will be addressed in the first section of the report and the ill-effects of the social welfare policy will be addressed in the second section of the report. For e.g., high costs of prescription drugs for low-income elderly is a social problem; absence of coverage through Medicare is the negative characteristic of an existing social policy. DO NOT CONFUSE THE TWO ITEMS-social problem and ill effects of policy.

Groups may submit a single project. If groups submit one project, each students' contribution should be clearly identified. Additionally, I will require that each group member submit to me a grade for all other group members (i.e., group member A submits a recommended grade for members B and C, member C submits a recommended grade for members A and B, etc.). I will use the recommended grades in the assignment of student grades for all projects.

I have seen that this work is bringing hope to one generation, which in turn will help future generations."

-Siramene Abraham, Florida Campus Compact AmeriCorps*VISTA member, Miami Dade College