Misericordia University's Social Work Program curriculum is organized around the Program's primary goal of preparing competent baccalaureate-level generalist practitioners. It evolved institutionally from the Religious Sisters of Mercy's own call to compassionate service through the ministries of teaching and healing and developed according to those mandates for curricular content established by the Council on Social Work Education. These mandates include a liberal arts perspective, which is also the base for all professional programs at the College, and a professional foundation composed of required social work courses and field practicums designed to provide an integrated experience to educate students in the critical areas of social work values and ethics, diversity, social and economic justice, at-risk populations, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policies and services, social work practice and research.
The suggested course sequence outline below constitutes the developmental learning framework for social work majors.
During the first two years, students study the core course required for knowledge building human functioning at the individual, group and community levels, the social foundation of human need and the structure of societal responses to meet human need. They are exposed to issues of diversity, social and economic injustice, oppression and discrimination, and policies reflecting societal response to “at risk” populations. By the end of the sophomore year, they will have completed the four required courses in sociology, one in psychology, one in gerontology, two social welfare policy courses and SWK 285 Communication Skills, a basic skills course that introduces students to problem solving and communication with individuals and groups. They will have completed a social policy assessment and have gained some experience with skill building around information gathering and assessment. They will also have been introduced to problem solving and experienced involvement in an agency setting. This coursework is intended to be completed prior to the mandated curricula requirements of the junior and senior years.
In the junior year, students complete their basic study of strategies for professional intervention to achieve planned change and enroll in junior field instruction where they further develop fundamental skills. These skills include the development and use of professional self, practice activities and the evaluation of practice activities. By the end of the junior year, students will have completed Research Methods, Methods and Processes I and II, Human Behavior and the Social Environment I & II, Junior Field Instruction and one or more social work electives. They will also have completed an Organizational Context of Practice and Community Context of Practice written assignment. By completion of the junior year, students have been exposed to various theoretical perspectives, critical thinking strategies, systems and ecological perspectives, micro, mezzo and macro level assessments and intervention strategies, oppression and discrimination “isms” and various strategies to promote economic and social justice. A certificate and/or minor area of study will also have been declared by this time.
During the senior year, students complete senior field instruction, additional social work electives, and all remaining projects, the Methods and Processes III course, assignments and documentation for their portfolios. Minors and/or certificates are completed during the final year.
In summary, this sequence provides students with a foundation in human behavior and the social environment, exposure to issues of diversity, special populations and effects of oppression and discrimination through both course work and field instruction, the context of social welfare, introductory and basic practice courses, research methodology and generalist practice, and a junior level field assignment. Students then complete the prescribed program with senior field instruction, completion of a student portfolio demonstrating achievement of program objectives, and an integrative seminar, all of which provide review and integration of classroom material with practice applications.