Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena


Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena, Policies designed to enhance peoples’ welfare or well-being are known as social policies. These policies are concerned with many aspects of social welfare, including health, housing, education, income, and nutrition, to name but a few. Social policies have also been formulated to meet the needs of groups of people such as needy children, people with disabilities, low-income families, and elderly people.

—Midgley & Livermore, 2008, pp. x–xi


From Midgley’s synopsis on social policy, it is clear that as a professional social worker and an advocate of social change, you will be working closely with populations and groups of people that will need your talent and dedication to affect a positive change in the quality of life for these people. Social Policy: Advocacy and Analysis will prepare you for the role of social worker in the policy arena.

In Week 1, you examine ethical reasons and obligations for engaging in social work policy practice, and you explore historical influences on social action in contemporary practice. You also introduce yourself to your colleagues with an introductory video that you will upload in this first week.

Learning Objectives

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena
Students will:
  • Analyze ethical reasons social workers engage in policy practice
  • Analyze historical influences on social action in current practice

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Learning Resources


Required Readings

SOCW 6361 Webliography

These websites will be required throughout the semester. Become familiar with these websites, especially when doing research for your assignments.

Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.

  • Chapter 1, “Joining a Tradition of Social Reform” (pp. 3–31)

Community Toolbox. (2016). Chapter 5 Section 1: Strategies for community change and improvement: An overview. Retrieved from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/promotion-strategies/overview/main

Gutiérrez, L. M., & Gant, L. M. (2018). Community practice in social work: Reflections on its first century and directions for the future. Social Service Review92(4), 617–646.

Hill, K. M., Ferguson, S. M., & Erickson, C. (2010). Sustaining and strengthening a macro identity: The association of macro practice social work. Journal of Community Practice, 18(4), 513–527




Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Required Media

TEDx Talks. (2015, July 15). Inspiring change through community organizing: Dara Frimmer [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DtILpmsCcA&t=8s



Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Optional Resources

MSW home page

Use this link to access the MSW home page, which provides resources for your social work program.

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Discussion 1: Video Introduction


A large part of social work involves building relationships. To be effective, you must build relationships with clients, colleagues, and community and organizational representatives. Being able to share appropriate amounts of personal information is the first step in building those relationships as you seek to recognize common goals with these individuals.

Feeling comfortable with sharing an appropriate amount of personal information requires practice and is an ongoing process as you encounter new people. What would you like others to know about you as an individual who is a social worker? How would you like others to perceive you? The relationships you build rely on those perceptions as much as they rely on what you say. There is no better time than now to plan or revisit your approach to building these relationships.

For this ungraded, but required, Discussion, record a 2-3 minute video introducing yourself to your colleagues. Your video should include and address these items:

  • Introduce yourself (your name, your geographic location, and an interesting, fun fact about yourself related to hobbies, personal interests or experiences)
  • What does being an advocate mean to you?
  • Describe a policy that has impacted your life

Upload your video using the Mashup Tool in the classroom. For instructions on how to upload your video, refer to the Kaltura Media Uploader area on the course navigation menu

By Day 3

Post your video.

To upload your media to this discussion thread, use the Kaltura Media option from the mashup tool drop-down menu. Refer to the Kaltura Media Uploader area in the course navigation menu for more information about how to upload media to the course.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two colleagues with a thoughtful question or suggestion.


Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria
Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 6

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Discussion 1

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Discussion 2: Historical Divides and Ethical Obligations Within Social Work


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) specifies the ethics and values of the profession in their Code of Ethics. Section 6.04 of the Code of Ethics (1999) states:

Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.(Preamble, p. 8)

With the requirement of social and political action among social workers, there is little political activity among clinical social workers. Why? What barriers exist that prevent social workers from fulfilling this ethical obligation?

What does it mean to be a macro social worker? A micro social worker? Do these differentiations have any real meaning? If not, why is this language used when referring to the social work profession?

In this Discussion, you will look at the obligation of social workers to engage in political action in their practice and discuss why there appear to be different perceptions of the responsibility for political action among social work professionals.

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

By Day 4

Post an analysis of historical divides (such as the schism between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond) and historical influences on current social work practice with respect to policy advocacy and action. Do such schisms exist in contemporary social work? If you think these divides exist, how do they prevent social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligation(s)? Are they important differentiations?

By Day 6

Respond to a colleague with a suggestion about how to address these schisms, both historical situations and current but yet unidentified ones. Does social action need to be separate from social work practice?

Be sure to support your post with specific references to this week’s resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.


Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Discussion 2 Rubric

Post by Day 4 and Respond by Day 6

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Discussion 2

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Week in Review


This week you analyzed ethical reasons social workers engage in policy practice and the historical influences on social action in current practice. You also created a plan for policy advocacy and applied policy practice skills.

Next week you will focus on policy advocacy skills and the impact of social policy on the practice of social work

Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Looking Ahead



Please visit the Webliography on the Learning Resources area above to use the think tank and policy websites for additional research resources.

Small Group Discussions

Your Instructor will assign you to your first group for next week’s Small Group Discussion by Day 7 of Week 1. These discussions mirror real-life situations in developing policy advocacy strategies.

Note: The small group discussions will take place in their own forum separate from the “regular” individual discussions.


Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

Social Change Project

You will propose and carry out some form of policy practice or social advocacy that will seek to change a social/organization/legislative policy or advocate for the amelioration of a social problem. The purpose of this assignment is to thoughtfully and thoroughly plan how you will advocate changing a social problem or policy that is of interest to you. The policy practice/advocacy can take whatever form you wish and can be on any level: agency, community, state, or federal. You will submit portions of the Assignment in Week 3, 6, 8, and 9. You will then submit the final report and presentation of your advocacy project in Week10. The Social Change Project will address the following specific items:

  • When was the policy enacted, by whom, and for what reason?
  • How are you going to work to change the policy/problem?
  • How will your efforts address the policy/social problem described?
  • Is continued policy practice/advocacy needed to make a long-term impact? Why or why not?

The assignment will need to be well researched and written (using APA guidelines). Data should come from at least five reputable sources.

To go to the next week:

Week 2






Week 1:Social Work in the Policy Arena

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