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MSW 663 U.S. Poverty: Perspectives and Interventions

This advanced elective course exposes social work students to the social, cultural, political, and spiritual implications of poverty, with special emphasis on families, neighborhoods, and communities characterized by persistent and resistant poverty. Students examine the major philosophical, conceptual, and theoretical frameworks used to define, measure, and interpret poverty in the context of increasing income inequality. Students explore historic trends in and the current scope of poverty across various demographic groups, and how social institutions such as the child welfare system, criminal justice and legal systems, the family, faith communities, health and mental health systems, schools, and workplaces can be resources for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of poverty and its adverse effects on individual, family, and community well-being.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Propose constructive responses to ethical issues and professional dilemmas commonly faced in social work practice with or on behalf of low-income constituents. (G1a)
  2. Engage constituents in the use of formal and informal data to develop multidimensional (economic, political, and social systems) models of the causes of poverty at the community level. (C2c; G8a)
  3. Compare and contrast the relative merits of policies and programs directed at poverty reduction. (G3a)
  4. Articulate the significance of poverty as a social work practice issue. (C3a)
  5. Demonstrate empathic appreciation of the stigma, discrimination, insecurity, and social exclusion often associated with identifying as, or being labeled as, poor. (C3a)
  6. Analyze organization or community climate for inclusion to identify opportunities to reduce explicit and implicit marginalization and to increase implicit and explicit inclusion of community members living in poverty. (C3a)
  7. Differentiate between poverty as a socioeconomic situation and the research-indicated adverse effects on biological, cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social functioning commonly associated with poverty. (C5a, C5b)
  8. Facilitate client and constituent self-directed engagement in community action related to social welfare policies, programs, and services aimed at poverty reduction. (G5b, G5c, G5d)
  9. Engage with funding mechanisms and processes related to federal and state income support and health care programs to identify and challenge embedded stereotypes about and the material vulnerability of individuals, families, and communities characterized as poor. (G5b, G5c, G5d)
  10. Compare and contrast competing and complementary frameworks used to name, measure, and interpret the significance of poverty in relation to definitions of wellness, intra- and interpersonal functioning, and therapeutic outcomes. (G6e)

Prerequisite or Co-requisite: MSW 650 Clinical Methods I with Individuals

Learn more about the coursework in the Advanced Standing and Traditional tracks of the online Master of Social Work from Saint Mary's. Call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor or request more information.