The University of St. Thomas

School of Social Work

Courses & Schedules

Courses & Schedules

Undergraduate Social Work - Course Descriptions


SOWK 281T/2810C: Introduction to Social Work (4 credits)

This course introduces the student to the profession of social work within the context of the social welfare system. It provides an overview of an integrative approach to generalist social work practice, which emphasizes intervention on individual, community and societal levels. Special emphasis is placed on values, human diversity, social justice and social work fields of practice.
Prerequisite: SOCI 100/1000 or PSYC 100/1001

SOWK 340T/3400C: Human Behavior and the Social Environment (4 credits)

The primary focus of this course is to provide students with knowledge and understanding of human behavior and development across the life span from an ecological and social systems approach examining biological, psychological, and spiritual factors. Emphasis is on the role of and interaction between various systems including: the individual, family, small group, organization, community, and society. Each stage of the life cycle from prenatal/birth through old age/death will be examined relative to the three levels of practice (micro, mezzo and macro). Typical strengths/assets, risks, and strategies/interventions are considered for each life stage. Multiple dimensions of diversity including gender, race/ethnicity, age, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status are stressed. For each stage of the lifespan, students explore various strengths, risks and intervention strategies aimed at improving individual and family resilience and furthering social justice. The theme of the course is to approach life and development in a holistic way. The experiences of people from diverse cultures will expand our understanding of sustainable human growth in global context. Prerequisite or concurrent registration: SOWK 281/2810; Prerequisites: PSYC 202/2025; BIOL /105/106/1120 or consent of the program director.

SOWK 355T/3550C: Communication and Interviewing Skills (4 credits)

This course is the first of a four-course practice sequence. The primary focus is on
communication theory and skills as applied to social work with individuals, families, small groups and communities and organizations. There is an emphasis on self-awareness, beginning assessment skills and diversity issues. An integrative approach to generalist social work practice provides the context for intervention on individual, environmental and societal levels.
SOWK 355/3550 is taken with 375/3750 (or 378/3780) in the fall by day students and with 3760 (or 3780) in the winter by Weekend College students. Prerequisites or concurrent registration with: SOWK 281/2810 and SOWK 340/3400 or by consent of the program director.


SOWK 375T/3750C & SOWK 376T/3760C or SOWK 378T/3780C :  Junior Fieldwork in Social Work - (4 credits)   

Junior Fieldwork complements the student's academic work through practical experience in a social work agency, institution, or department. Under the supervision of an agency field instructor, the student learns beginning social work tasks and functions while applying theory to actual social work situations. Students participate in an on-campus seminar with other junior social work majors while in placement. The placement is 10 – 12 hours per week throughout two consecutive terms (fall and spring semesters for day students or fall and winter for Weekend College students).
Prerequisite or concurrent registration with: SOWK 281/2810 or consent of the program

SOWK 380T/3800C: Social Research: Designs and Statistical Application (4 credits)  

This course fosters competence in the research skills needed for generalist social work practice. Students will gain knowledge in the steps of conducting research; practice evaluation; conducting research with vulnerable participants; locating and critically evaluating relevant research to inform practice; and evidence-based practice. They will learn values of ethical research practice, using the Belmont Report and the NASW Code of Ethics as guidelines. Particular emphasis is placed on protecting vulnerable research participants.  Students will also gain skills in writing and presenting a literature review, developing a research proposal, and applying relevant research to practice.
Prerequisites: SOWK 281/2810 and junior status or consent of the program director.

SOWK 385T/3850C: Working with Groups: Theory and Practice (4 credits)  

This course is the second of the four-course practice sequence. The primary focus of the course is on the study of human behavior in groups with emphasis on the use of groups in generalist social work practice to accomplish individual, family, organizational and/or community goals. This course provides experiential learning opportunities to integrate knowledge, values, and skills as both a group leader and a group member. The effects of diversity on group interaction are stressed. SOWK 385/3850 is taken with 376/3760 (or 378/3780) in the spring by day students and in the spring trimester by Weekend College students.
Prerequisite: SOWK 355/3550 or consent of the Program Director.

SOWK 391T/3910C: Social Policy for Social Change (4 credits)  

This course equips students to understand and critically analyze current and past social policies. Policy alternatives are explored with a focus on the values and attitudes as well as the societal, economic and political dynamics from which they originate. Roles and responsibilities of citizens and professionals in formulating and implementing policies responsive to actual social needs are addressed.
Prerequisite: SOWK 281/2810 or consent of the Program Director.

SOWK 401T/4010C: Generalist Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups  (4 credits)  

This is the third course in the four-part practice sequence. This course prepares the student for generalist social work practice with individuals, families and groups in the context of their social environments with emphasis on aspects of diversity. A primary focus is the application of social work knowledge through increased development of skills. The overall goal of the course is integration and application of the stages of the generalist social work method.
SOWK 401/4010 is taken with 405/4050 in the fall by seniors.
Prerequisites: SOWK 355/3550 and SOWK 385/3850.

SOWK 402T/4020C: Generalist Practice for Social Change (4 credits)   

This course is a continuation of SOWK 401/4010 and the final of the four courses in the practice sequence of the social work curriculum. The focus is on prevention/intervention methods based on generalist social work knowledge that can be applied to client systems of all sizes. A special emphasis is placed on effecting planned change in groups, organizations, communities, and national and global society toward the pursuit of social justice. A combination of lecture, discussion, experiential learning, and small group activities provides students with knowledge and skills for client systems advocacy and social change. SOWK 402/4020 is taken with 406/4060 in the spring semester by day students and in winter trimester by Weekend College students.
Prerequisites: SOWK 401/4010.

SOWK 405T/4050C and SOWK 406T/4060C: Senior Fieldwork in the Social Services (4 credits)  

Senior Fieldwork complements the student's academic work through practical experiences in a social work agency, institution, or department. Under the supervision of an agency field instructor, the student learns social work tasks and functions while applying theory to actual social work situations. Students participate in an on-campus seminar with other senior social work majors while in placement. The placement is 15-20 hours per week throughout two consecutive terms (fall and spring semesters for day students or fall and winter for WEC students).
Concurrent registration in SOWK 401/4010 is required.
SOWK 406T/4060C Senior Fieldwork in Social Work (4 credits)
Concurrent registration in SOWK 402/4020 is required


SOWK 210: Relationship, Intimacy, Sexuality 

This course addresses three major areas: exploring values and societal influence on relationships, intimacy and sexuality - the influence of culture, religion, family and friends; understanding self-worth, communication patterns and the effect of family and other significant relationships on the development of one's needs/wants in relationships, intimacy, and sexuality; discovering the basic attributes, purposes, and powers of significant relationships, intimacy and sexuality. Participation in a structured small group discussion is required. Open to non-majors. Also offered in Weekend College. Cross listed in Women's Studies.

INDI 291: The Anatomy of Violence  

The purpose of this course is to increase the knowledge and understanding of cultural, racial, and interpersonal violence and increase one's commitment to promoting a violent free society. The content includes exploration of the extent, causes, and effects of violence and strategies for intervention on micro and macro levels. Topics include: domestic violence, peer/dating violence, prostitution, sexual harassment/assault, child abuse/neglect, racism, homophobia, etc. Special emphasis is given to the integration of cultural and social diversity (race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual orientation) and the promotion of social justice. Open to non-majors.

SOWK 293: Grief, Loss and Coping  

The overall purpose of this course is to help the student to develop conceptual understanding, skills, and competencies relative to grief, loss, and coping. The course content includes theory from psychology, socioology, social work, medicine, and materials form literature, lay-people and a spectrum of multicultural influences. Small group exercises and reflective writings will provide opportunities for each student to learn from each other's experiences, as well as self-exploration of beliefs regarding grief and loss.

INDI 300: Social Roots of Personal Stories: Studies of Diversity through Literature

The course examines the link between personal experience and public issues/social problems through the use of literature and academic inquiry. Literary works exploring various dimensions of diversity are read and considered using the principles of Catholic Social Teaching to understand the dynamics of social justice/injustice. Consideration is being given to offering the course in day school in the future.

SOWK 414: School Social Work  

This course examines the school as a social institution which serves to educate and socialize children into American society and the role of the Social Worker in such a setting. Emphasis is placed on discovering similarities and differences between social work and education values and tasks and the process of integrating social work values into a school setting. Social work with special and at-risk populations is discussed. This course also examines specific handicaps to learning and the role of the social worker in helping students, schools and families adjust to and cope with special needs. Emphasis will be placed on evaluation of school social work practice. Interventions with children which fit within a school setting are included.

SOWK 416: Child Welfare Policy  

This course is designed to give students an overview of important topics in child welfare practice and policy. Students will be asked to examine their own values about orientations toward child welfare, children's rights and responsibilities, the nature of maltreatment, and other issues facing the field today, as they affect diverse families. Additionally, students will be given tools to advocate for children and an opportunity to exercise new advocacy skills. Graduate students (GRSW 516) will be expected to show a deeper engagement of the material. Graduate students will also complete an extra course assignment.

SOWK 423: Practice with Older Adults and Their Families

An introduction to and overview of social work knowledge, skills, and values as applies to working with older adults and their families. Content includes an examination of theories and attitudes toward aging, the nature and limitations of gerontological social work, forces shaping the delivery system, major biopsychological dimensions in practice, and different models of intervention.