• Length:
    5 Weeks
  • Effort:
    2–3 hours per week
  • Price:

    Add a Verified Certificate for $49 USD

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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time

Associated Programs:


College-level maturity.

About this course

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In this social science course, you will learn how social workers in the United States engage in creating change and supporting the resilience of individuals, families and communities in this new era.

Learners will have an opportunity to explore the social work profession, the different roles of social workers in a range of settings, the cross cutting themes that guide social work practice, the history of social work, and current challenges.

Using a social justice lens, learners will reflect on current challenges facing the lives of individuals, families and communities and examine ways to advocate for needed changes.

This course is part of the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MicroMasters Program offered by MichiganX. Please note that to complete this program with a MicroMasters certificate, you must be enrolled as a verified learner in all courses in the program by November 30, 2020, and you must complete all assessments by March 29, 2021.

What you'll learn

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  • Core values and perspectives of the social work profession
  • Key roles social workers perform across system levels
  • The role of social work within US society and as part of inter-professional practice
  • How to apply integrative themes using a social justice lens across a range of settings where social workers engage in change efforts
  • Strategies social workers use to effectively address issues across systems and levels
  • Strategies to advocate for needed changes

Week 1: What is Social Work?
Introduction to social work as a profession and key roles social workers perform across system levels (individual, family, community, organization, policy). Focus on core social values and perspectives. Week 2: Cross-Cutting Themes that Guide Social Workers
Introduction to key cross cutting themes (e.g., systems theory, strengths based approach, empowerment, evidence-informed practices and social justice). Explore these themes through case examples and interactive exercises. Week 3: History of Social Work as Profession in the United States
Examine the history of social work as a profession using an issue oriented approach. Learn unique contributions of social workers over the years. Week 4: Addressing Issues of Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice
Learn strategies that social workers use to effectively make a difference in addressing privilege, oppression, diversity and social justice in their work. Explore current challenges and advocacy needs through case applications. Week 5: Preparing to Practice Social Work – The MSW Learning Process
This week explores topics related to entering an MSW program at the University of Michigan and the tools needed to be successful and maximize learning.

Meet your instructors

Mary Ruffolo
Professor, School of Social Work
University of Michigan
Barbara Hiltz
Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
University of Michigan
Katie Richards-Schuster
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
University of Michigan

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Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.