Social Work 601

SOWK 601: Human Behavior in the Social Environment I

Prerequisites: Admission to the Graduate Program in Social Work or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This is the first course in the Human Behavior sequence. In this course the dynamics of human behavior and the contexts within which humans grow and develop through the life cycle are explored. It provides a foundation knowledge base from which social work students ground the assessment and intervention processes with individuals and families utilizing a biopsychosocial spiritual framework. Traditional and postmodern theories are analyzed and challenged. The ecological and strengths perspectives are presented in relation to human risk and resilience. HBSE I attempts to honor different ways of knowing and being, developing pathways to understanding and appreciating uniqueness. Students are challenged to explore their own values and culture in an effort to create an inclusive viewpoint of human diversity.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Nature and functions of people are examined by the question how he/ she/ they got to be the way they are, from four distinct world views. These views are organized around 4 paradigms: Structural Determinism, Emancipationism, Interactionalism, and Positivism.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Students write essays analyzing novels read for the course drawing on theoretical or conceptual material. Students answer how characters in the novels became the way they are using the four paradigms.

Format - Consists of lectures and discussion


Goals and Objectives of Course

Students learn:

1. To understand the paradigmatic origins of theories and theoretical concepts that inform social work practice.
2. To know the implicit and explicit moral presuppositions present in each of the four paradigms and their attendant theories.
3. To understand the competing philosophical assumptions underlying the paradigms that give rise to different views and interpretations of the human condition.
4. To learn the fit between theoretical concepts and their hostparadigms as a pre-condition to correctly explaining human conduct.
5. To learn to distinguish environmentally determined theories from individually determined theories as explanations of human conduct.
6. To understand the distinct and unique views of the human condition that are embedded in each of the paradigms and their influence on assessment, intervention, policy, ethics and research.
7. To understand that debate, among paradigms, regarding the "correct" interpretation of the human condition is fundamental to learning the theoretical concepts that inform practice.
8. To provide a framework for properly organizing previously learned theoretical material from the social, behavioral and physical sciences.
9. To understand the relationship between the four paradigms and social work's moral purposes.


Assessment Measures

Student’s progress is measured through progressive experience of writing assignments and class discussion.


Other course information