About the Program

Social Work

The University of Tennessee at Martin's (UT Martin) undergraduate Social Work Program offers a curriculum for study in social work at the baccalaureate level. Graduates of our Program receive a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW).

 

The Social Work Program began in 1970 (and at first was called "Social Welfare") within the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice. The Social Work Program is now located in the newly formed Department of Behavioral Sciences.

 

The Social Work Program has professional identity. It is accredited by The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students graduating with a BSSW Degree are prepared for entry into employment and are considered to be at the first professional level in social work practice. Graduates from an accredited social work program are eligible for regular membership and full benefits in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and, in many states, can become licensed as social workers, including Tennessee. Students who graduate from an accredited baccalaureate program in social work may be considered for advanced standing when applying for entry into a CSWE accredited master's program in social work. If accepted, students may receive credit for their foundation work toward a master's degree, thus reducing the time necessary for earning a Master's of Science in Social Work (MSSW) or Master's of Social Work (MSW).

 

It is the mission of the UT Martin Social Work Program to prepare students to use social work knowledge, skills, and values to demonstrate competent, ethical, evidence based practice to diverse populations across all social systems. Emphasis is placed on promoting social justice and service to all persons, particularly underserved populations, including rural areas such as those found in Northwest Tennessee.

 

The goals for the UT Martin Social Work Program are:

  • students are prepared to begin generalist professional practice with individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities.
  • students are prepared to develop an identity which will incorporate the values and ethics of the social work profession.
  • students are prepared for practice with diverse, oppressed and at-risk populations and to link social research and social service practice.
  • students are prepared for lifelong learning and critical thinking through an educational process combining a liberal arts foundation with professional social work education.
  • students are prepared for graduate education in social work.
  • students are prepared for service and leadership within the community and the social work profession.

 

At program entry and concurrent with classroom instruction, social work majors begin to come in contact with both providers and consumers of social services. This enables the student to integrate classroom learning and field experience through meaningful interaction with human/social services professionals and with clients, patients, consumers, and others.

 

The student is able to make an early assessment of feelings, reactions, impressions, and beginning abilities to function as a helping agent with the profession. This enables the student to make alternate career selections before too great an investment is made if social work is not a satisfactory choice.

 

Course offerings are designed to carry the student through various levels of learning. Each level of learning in the social work curriculum requires a related field activity, which enhances the student's ability to relate what is taught in the classroom with actual practice in the work setting.

 

Core Competencies and Practice Behaviors

Competency 1–Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Social workers understand frameworks of ethical decision-making and how to apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas. Social workers recognize personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values. They also understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior. Social workers understand the profession’s history, its mission, and the roles and responsibilities of the profession. Social Workers also understand the role of other professions when engaged in interprofessional teams. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and are committed to continually updating their skills to ensure they are relevant and effective. Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and the ethical use of technology in social work practice. Social workers:

  • 1.1 make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context;
  • 1.2 use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations;
  • 1.3 demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication;
  • 1.4 use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes; and
  • 1.5 use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior.

Competency 2 –Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

Social workers understand how diversity and difference characterize and shape the human experience and are critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. Social workers understand that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers also understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values, including social, economic, political, and cultural exclusions, may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power. Social workers:

  • 2.1 apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels;
  • 2.2 present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences; and
  • 2.3 apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies.

Competency 3 –Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

Social workers understand that every person regardless of position in society has fundamental human rights such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers understand the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations, and are knowledgeable about theories of human need and social justice and strategies to promote social and economic justice and human rights. Social workers understand strategies designed to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably and that civil, political, environmental, economic, social, and cultural human rights are protected. Social workers:

  • 3.1 apply their understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels; and
  • 3.2 engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice.

Competency 4 –Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice

Social workers understand quantitative and qualitative research methods and their respective roles in advancing a science of social work and in evaluating their practice. Social workers know the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and culturally informed and ethical approaches to building knowledge. Social workers understand that evidence that informs practice derives from multi-disciplinary sources and multiple ways of knowing. They also understand the processes for translating research findings into effective practice. Social workers:

  • 4.1 use practice experience and theory to inform scientific inquiry and research;
  • 4.2 apply critical thinking to engage in analysis of quantitative and qualitative research methods and research findings; and
  • 4.3 use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery.

Competency 5 –Engage in Policy Practice

Social workers understand that human rights and social justice, as well as social welfare and services, are mediated by policy and its implementation at the federal, state, and local levels. Social workers understand the history and current structures of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development. Social workers understand their role in policy development and implementation within their practice settings at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels and they actively engage in policy practice to effect change within those settings. Social workers recognize and understand the historical, social, cultural, economic, organizational, environmental, and global influences that affect social policy. They are also knowledgeable about policy formulation, analysis, implementation, and evaluation. Social workers:

  • 5.1 Identify social policy at the local, state, and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery, and access to social services;
  • 5.2 assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services;
  • 5.3 apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.

Competency 6 –Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that engagement is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand strategies to engage diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may impact their ability to effectively engage with diverse clients and constituencies. Social workers value principles of relationship-building and interprofessional collaboration to facilitate engagement with clients, constituencies, and other professionals as appropriate. Social workers:

  • 6.1 apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies; and
  • 6.2 use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage diverse clients and constituencies.

Competency 7 –Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that assessment is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in the assessment of diverse clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand methods of assessment with diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers recognize the implications of the larger practice context in the assessment process and value the importance of interprofessional collaboration in this process. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may affect their assessment and decision-making. Social workers:

  • 7.1 collect and organize data, and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies;
  • 7.2 apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies;
  • 7.3 develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives based on the critical assessment of strengths, needs, and challenges within clients and constituencies; and
  • 7.4 select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies.

Competency 8 –Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that intervention is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are knowledgeable about evidence-informed interventions to achieve the goals of clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to effectively intervene with clients and constituencies. Social workers understand methods of identifying, analyzing and implementing evidence-informed interventions to achieve client and constituency goals. Social workers value the importance of interprofessional teamwork and communication in interventions, recognizing that beneficial outcomes may require interdisciplinary, interprofessional, and interorganizational collaboration. Social workers:

  • 8.1 critically choose and implement interventions to achieve practice goals and enhance capacities of clients and constituencies;
  • 8.2 apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with clients and constituencies;
  • 8.3 use inter-professional collaboration as appropriate to achieve beneficial practice outcomes;
  • 8.4 negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies; and
  • 8.5 facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed-on goals.

Competency 9 –Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that evaluation is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social workers recognize the importance of evaluating processes and outcomes to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in evaluating outcomes. Social workers understand qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating outcomes and practice effectiveness. Social workers:

  • 9.1 select and use appropriate methods for evaluation of outcomes;
  • 9.2 apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the evaluation of outcomes;
  • 9.3 critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate intervention and program processes and outcomes; and
  • 9.4 apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.

Taken from Council on Social Work Education’s Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (2015).

Internship

Perhaps the greatest strength in the Social Work Program is field instruction.

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Scholarship Opportunities

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