Advanced Community and Advocacy Practice-Macro Practice Selective

Social Work 846

Helen P. Hartnett, Ph.D.  Class: Tuesday 8:30-11:10am
Spring 2002 211 Blake
209 Twente Hall Office Hours: Tuesdays 11:30-12:30m


Within the current social-political context of managing and implementing programs, the ability for social workers at all levels in the social service arena to mobilize community resources and advocate with and on behalf of clients is paramount. This course is proposed as a selective to provide students with further knowledge and skills in community and advocacy practice.

This course is designed to build on the content of the Foundation Practice Course (Social Work 713) by further developing the theories, methods, and skills of community and policy practice. It builds on the "person in environment" perspective by focusing on the client's environment as a partner in practice. The course is designed to help students know and further develop the analytical and empirical skills needed to effectively manage and advocate with and on behalf of different human service communities including organizations, place and non-place based communities, and state and national level policy makers. Throughout the course, skill based exercises are presented to aid in understanding theoretical concepts.

More specifically, this course is intended to accomplish the following.

  1. To provide a systematic and advanced overview of the theories and concepts of community and advocacy practice (theoretical base).
  2. To examine the methods, strategies, and principles of the multiple ways of intervening within the socio-political context (knowledge base).
  3. To develop advanced skills necessary to apply theory and knowledge to the needs of disadvantaged/minority populations (children, women, ethnic minorities, people who are poor, experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, etc.) as well as to the general population (skill base).
  4. To allow students to explore a personal philosophy and style of community and advocacy practice consistent with social work philosophy, ethnic/gender perspectives, values, and ethics (professional base).


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge of the history and values pertinent to community and policy advocacy to the practice of macro-level intervention.
  2. Demonstrate advanced skills in analyzing the social, political, and economic context of social work practice.
  3. Apply skills in addressing the structural factors in American society that create adversity for oppressed groups.
  4. Apply advanced theoretical concepts, methods, approaches, and examples of community practice and advocacy.
  5. Demonstrate the capacity to identify key actors and work with constituency groups on a variety of levels.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to analyze power and influence within the political arena and determine the means to maximize support to address opposition and promote change.
  7. Apply the principles, methods, and examples of macro-level needs and capacities assessment.
  8. Implement strategies for policy practice that involve the individual, organizations, and communities in the change process.
  9. Demonstrate advanced skills in policy practice and community intervention including, community enrichment, social action, inter agency collaboration, coalition building and legislative and resource advocacy.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to evaluate community and advocacy practice initiatives.
  11. Apply several strategies for analyzing/considering the unintended consequences of community and policy practice interventions.

**All educational outcomes reflect Objective #7 of the Social Administration Concentration and Objective #3 of the Clinical Concentration. Specifically, educational outcome #10 reflects Objective #7 of the Clinical Concentration.


   1. Strengths

   2. Social Justice    3. Diversity    4. Critical Perspective
  1. Critical examination of a selected number of theories, perspectives and models guiding and explaining practice.
  2. Critical examination of beliefs and assumptions maintaining unjust and oppressive social structures and social practices.
  3. Critical reflection on the student's own practice, the professional knowledge-value assumptions that guide it, and the personal values, beliefs and biases that influence it for better and/or for worse.

The course draws on the liberal arts as one vast and rich source of learning. As a practice course, the effort is to apply relevant knowledge and values from all sources that could illumine and guide actions to achieve the profession's social purpose. Thus students are supported and challenged to use their knowledge from courses on history, literature, social sciences and fine arts along with the knowledge gained from life experiences and the accumulating body of professional knowledge.


A clear sense of professional purpose and the values embodied in its value system and code of ethics provide a necessary focus for selecting and using knowledge and perspectives from a rich array of learning resources, not least from the diverse client populations served by the profession. This clarity is at the heart of the course's fundamental task of translating broad statements of professional purpose and values as reflected in the school's mission statement and curriculum themes into specific purposeful practice acts.


This course will focus on special populations through readings and discussion about how institutional racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism and ableism are imbedded in our organizational structures, policies and communities. The importance of both place communities and community of identification will also be included throughout the course. These topics will support the curriculum themes of social justice and diversity.

VII. Schedule –Subject to change

§ Session 1-January 22

§ Session 2-January 29

§ Session 3-February 5

§ Session 4-February 12

Identifying "Problems" & Choosing Issues

§ Session 5-February 19

Economic, Political, Organizational, and Social Power

§ Session 6-February 26

Skills, Tactics & Techniques of Community Practice

§ Session 7-March 5

§ Session 8-March 12

Community Organizing, Politics & Coalitions

§ Session 9-March 19- NO CLASS SPRING BREAK

§ Session 10-March 26

§ Session 11-April 2

Advocacy in Human Service Organizations

§ Session 12-April 9

Policy Research, Policy Making & Advocacy

§ Session 13-April 16

§ Session 14-April 23

§ Session 15-April 30


§ Session 16-May 7- Wrap up and Evaluations

VIII. Required Texts


A. Policy Brief for Lawmakers- 25 Points- DUE APRIL 23RD

This assignment should incorporate an understanding of the theme of social and economic justice.

Adapted from E.A. Segal & S. Brzuzy, Social Welfare Policy, Programs, & Practice (1998).

One method for advocating on a given social/political issue is to present research and data in the form of a policy brief, usually in the form of a 1-2 page fact sheet or position paper that provides evidence to support a particular position. A policy brief can provide lawmakers and their staff with valuable information about an issue that can help them justify their vote. Staff members and legislative committees often prepare policy briefs or fact sheets for lawmakers on particular issues.

Brevity and clarity are important in writing an effective policy brief. Usually, lawmakers or their staff are working on numerous issues simultaneously and receive conflicting information on key issues. Most are unlikely to read anything that is long or complicated. Many reports from lobbyists, advocates or community groups include an executive summary that resembles a policy brief. The executive summary is succinct and highlights the key points for the benefit of government officials and their staff (as well as the media).

Choose a federal (state or local) social welfare policy issue of concern to social workers. Obtain as much relevant information about the issue as necessary for you to gain a thorough understanding of the key issues involved (i.e., be able to analyze and summarize the issue, the strengths & weaknesses of current or pending legislation directed toward alleviating the problem).

Prepare a typed policy brief of no more than two (2) pages which reflects the:

Your policy brief should be clear about the issue you are discussing. Define the issue in the beginning of your paper and only present background information that is necessary—that which provides context for the issue. Construct your policy brief from the general to the specific, in other words, build your framework and then fill in the details. Your paper will be more effective if you avoid slang or jargon and instead use common language. If you are presenting a position based on values, try to use data or facts to support your position.

The key to a successful and persuasive policy brief is to be concise. As you complete this assignment, think of yourself as someone with expert knowledge in an advisory position to state or federal lawmakers on this issue. Your policy brief should reflect your responsibility to educate and make recommendations regarding a social welfare policy issue to a federal/state social welfare policy committee.

B. Participation in Community Practice- 30 points-ON-GOING

This assignment is designed to provide students with the opportunity to practice community social work and to promote change on behalf of diverse populations. Based on the Midwest Academy guidelines, and as a work group, the class will develop strategies and the tactics necessary to implement some reasonable form of community intervention. The work group will determine the roles and tasks of each member. An agreed upon strategy will be implemented to the extent possible. The community intervention should promote the strengths of the community.

C. Reflecting on Community Practice Participation- 10 points-DUE APRIL 30TH

This assignment will provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their own participation in community practice. In a 4-6 page paper students should address the following:

  1. What was your participation?
  2. What did you learn? About social work practice? About your own practice?
  3. Will you incorporate these skills into your future practice? Why or why not and how?
  4. What might be the consequences of the community strategy?

D. Facilitating the work group- DUE WHEN ON DATE SELECTED

This assignment is designed to assist students in practicing the skills of planning and facilitating a work group/meeting. Students, working in pairs, will sign up in advance to lead the work group (class) through the material assigned for the day. The student responsibilities include:

  1. A brief summary of the content of the material
  2. Leading the class through the tasks of the week as outlined in the material

E. Reaction to observation/participation in community meeting- 15 points-DUE FEBRUARY 26TH

This assignment is intended to provide students the opportunity to observe and reflect on the skills and processes of community meetings. Students should attend a community meeting and in a short paper describe the purpose of the meeting, the process of the meeting, the skills needed to facilitate the meeting and the outcome of the meeting.

This paper should be 3 –5 pages and include the following:

  1. What was the context for the meeting? Purpose?
  2. When and when was the meeting? Did this facilitate or inhibit participation?
  3. Who was there? Were the people represented?
  4. How was the group conducted? Was it effective?
  5. What was the outcome?
  6. What would you do differently? The same?

F. Class participation- 10 Points-ON-GOING

You will be evaluated on the manner in which you contribute toward the creation of a learning environment. Some important aspects of this include:

  1. Reading assignments in advance of class and being prepared for classroom discussion.
  2. Contributing to class discussions based on your understanding of assigned readings.
  3. Contributing to class discussions by sharing relevant personal and professional examples.
  4. Treating others in the class with respect, including attending to the contributions of others.
  5. Remaining open to perspectives other than your own.
  6. Demonstrating an appreciation for issues of diversity, i.e., people like or unlike you.
  7. Encouraging others to share in class by offering supporting examples, and adding to others contributions.
  8. Respectfully and thoughtfully sharing areas of disagreement with others.
  9. Volunteering for class exercises.
  10. Commenting or raising questions to illuminate the topic being considered by the class.
  11. Coming to class, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for engaging in any of the above.


If any member of the class feels that he or she has a disability, please advise the instructor of such disability and desired accommodation as soon as you have written documentation. The instructor will work with you and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that you have a fair opportunity to perform in the class.


I can be reached at the above phone number and e-mail address. Any student wishing to meet with me during a time other than my office hours, please contact me for an appointment.