SWK 6133 The Philosophical Foundations of Social Work
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WSSW course syllabus / Open Access
COURSE DESCRIPTION ¶This course is designed to move students toward enhanced self-discovery by challenging them to confirm, confront, and articulate their own values and spiritual and philosophical beliefs. The classroom environment is to become a learning environment that challenges students to confront beliefs and values different from their own, engage with others in an informed and authentic manner, and in the process, discover the very value system that they bring to the clients with whom they work. ¶The course content elucidates the social work philosophy of helping by examining it through the lens of Jewish social thought. All students, regardless of faith or religious background, will confront the role of spirituality and religious belief. Although the course provides a Jewish perspective, students of all faiths will be expected to investigate and articulate their v i e w s a n d differences with Judaic thought, and contribute them to the class, thereby strengthening their own value system and spiritual beliefs. The basic purpose of this course is for students to develop a philosophy of helping by exploring and struggling with their spiritual identity and applying it to social-work practice. ¶In this course, such philosophical themes as spirituality, the dual nature of the human being, conflicting conceptions of time, good and the problem of evil, loss and suffering, the Holocaust and other genocides, sin and repentance/behavior change, and social justice are studied from the value perspectives of Judaism, other religions and philosophies, and social work. Students who are Jewish or who subscribe to other religions or philosophies are encouraged to explore and share their views in class and in their final paper, describing their own philosophies in relation to these themes. Spiritual/religious and professional systems of thought, anchored in Judaism and social work, are studied in the course of understanding the complexity of human nature. This course welcomes conversations around nuanced dualities and areas where complex conflicts and similarities emerge. ¶The focus of the course is on acquiring specific knowledge and on examining values. It is organized around the following questions: What is the essence of being human? What is the role of time in human functioning? How do human beings deal with the problem of evil, and how do students and clients explain tragedy and pain? Where was God during acts of genocide and natural disasters - the crisis of faith? What is the process of behavior change for people who are unhappy with their lives? How can social justice effect social change? The goal is for students to develop conceptions of human nature – a philosophy of helping - that they can apply in their work with clients. ¶Philosophical Foundations is a required course. Students are expected to gain insight into their experiences through the application of philosophical concepts to practice. The course further develops themes in the Human Behavior course as we apply the duality of human beings to the stages of the life cycle and the development of the professional self. It connects to the practice courses, as students share their practice experiences to develop new ways of viewing clients and their problems. It incorporates content from Social Welfare Organization in studying the concept of social justice in social work and religion. It includes elements of feminism, discrimination, substance abuse, battered women, child abuse, the elderly and minorities, which are cited to illustrate various ways of understanding human nature. Research is cited in studies of behavior change
Levy, Lynn & Kalinsky, Yosef. (2021), Syllabus, SWK 6133 The Philosophical Foundations of Social Work, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University.
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