About SWSS 1020 A

An introduction to the profession of social work, its functions, values, knowledge, and the problems it addresses. Methods include: speakers from human service organizations, case examples, a field trip and unique final exam using a community experience and reflection.


Open to Degree and PACE students

Section Description

This course is designed to: • Introduce you to the profession of social work, the values of the profession, and the social problems it addresses, • Provide you with opportunities to identify your strengths as potential social workers and your personal values as they relate to the values of the profession, • Give you a sound basis for considering social work as a possible career choice, and • Assist you in beginning to establish your niche in the Department of Social Work should you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work. SWSS 002 is a foundation course required to earn a Bachelor of Social degree at the University of Vermont. As such, it serves as a general survey of many of the concepts that will be given more in-depth consideration in later social work courses. Our explorations this fall will take explicit note of our current historical moment in the United States. Particular attention will be given to the ways three significant forces are impacting individual lives and communities, as well as how they are shaping our priorities and practices as social workers: the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s disproportionate impact on certain people and communities, and the challenges and opportunities it presents to social work practice; racism, white supremacist movements, and anti-racist social work practice; and the history of professional social work’s participation in oppression, and emerging efforts to address the impact of that history and develop purposefully anti-oppressive practice approaches. During the first several weeks of the course, we will explore the history and philosophies of social work practice, our Code of Ethics, our professional commitments toward promoting human and community well-being and to advancing social justice and human rights, and the contexts within which social work practice occurs (direct practice with individuals, families, and groups, organizational and administrative practices, and community practice). Special attention will be given to our social work commitments to anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice and to social justice activism; practice that holds respect for human diversity; and practice that is ethical, compassionate, humble, and collaborative. Next, we will explore the experiences of social workers as they invite and listen to the stories of the people with whom they work, and as they experiment with crafting ethical, respectful, and effective ways of responding to those stories. The impact of poverty, oppression and injustice, racism, trauma and violence, substance abuse and addiction, and issues of health and mental health, as well as stories of resiliency and courage, will be explored. Our semester will conclude with class activities to help us integrate the semester-long learning with individual student reflection and planning for the future. TEACHING AND LEARNING METHODS The poet, essayist and activist bell hooks tells us “The revolutionary form of education is conversation.” My ever-evolving orientation to teaching and learning is currently influenced by: • the practices and the ideas of contemplative education (for example, see: https://contemplativepedagogynetwork.com/what-is-contemplative-pedagogy/). • a deepening understanding about efforts to decolonize social work (for example, see for example http://decolonizesocialwork.org/episode/why-decolonizing-social-work and http://decolonizesocialwork.org/episode/white-supremacy-work). • a growing understanding about the characteristics of white supremacy culture and suggested antidotes to these (see, for example, https://www.dismantlingracism.org/uploads/4/3/5/7/43579015/okun_-_white_sup_culture.pdf). In social work, one of our fundamental values is knowing the importance of human relationships. Transformation, growth and powerful change can occur – within ourselves as humans, and also within our communities – when we are in deep and genuine connection with each other. I hope to hold space and opportunity for students to connect with each other and with me, and in turn, to open space for curiosity, creativity, uncertainty, responsiveness, and speaking up.

Section Expectation

Learning opportunities and assignments will include: Engaged class presence; Fields of Practice paper; Deeper Dive paper; Integration paper; and Discussion Thread posts.


See above. Evaluation of above mentioned expectations will be outlined in thhe Syllabus and discussed in class.

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


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Interest Form

SWSS 1020 A is closed to new enrollment.

But we can remind you a few days before the next term opens. You can also see what terms are enrolling currently.