Tina Aiko Schaefer
SOC W 501
Analysis of poverty and inequality in United States. Analytic and descriptive focus on measurement, processes of production and perpetuation, and public policy responses. Examines causes of poverty, the role of policy, and socioeconomic dimensions of stratification, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, and family structure.
This course is a critical analysis of poverty and inequality, with an analytic and descriptive focus on measurement, processes of production and perpetuation, and public policy responses. It examines competing perspectives on the causes of poverty, the role of policy, and socioeconomic dimensions of stratification, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation and family structure.
This course builds upon historical and critical analysis content covered in the "Intellectual and Historical Foundations of Professional Social Work Practice" and links to policy advocacy and policy analysis material covered in policy practice sessions in the "Macro practice" sequence. Together, these courses offer a foundation in the historical, political, economic, and philosophical context of US social welfare policy, familiarize students with current policy controversies, build skills in policy analysis and advocacy, and help students critically analyze competing perspectives on poverty and inequality, in preparation for socially just social work practice.
Student learning goals
Critical thinking Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgment • Distinguish, evaluate and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, practice wisdom and client/constituent experience; • Critically analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention and evaluation, especially in relation to their cultural relevance and applicability and the promotion of social justice.
Diversity Engage diversity and difference in practice • Recognize and articulate the ways in which social and cultural structure – including history, institutions and values – oppress some identity groups while enhancing the privilege and power of dominant groups.
Human rights Advance human rights and social and economic justice • Understand and articulate the forms and mechanism of oppression and discrimination and approaches to advancing social justice and human rights; • Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice; • Engage in practice that address disparities and inequalities and advance social and economic justice.
Policy practice Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the history and current form of US social welfare and social service policies, institutions, governance and financing and use this understanding to formulate policies and strategies that advance social well-being and social and economic justice.
Research Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research • Use qualitative and quantitative research evidence to inform practice.
• Use qualitative and quantitative research evidence to inform p• Continuously discover, appraise and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments and emerging societal trends to provide culturally relevant services. • Recognize and develop understanding of local-global context of practice. ractice.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Participation (whole class, electronic and group) 30% Data analysis and presentations 15% Short paper (credit/no credit) Paper assignments (demographic briefing, analysis of competing perspectives, and final paper) 5% 50%
Course Requirements and Grading Policy:
Readings: Our major texts are Poverty in America by John Iceland (2006, University of California Press) and Flat Broke with Children by Sharon Hayes (2004, Oxford University Press). Other readings are on electronic reserve. Why people are poor: This is a 1 page, double-spaced paper for students to express why they think people are poor. This paper does not have to be based on academic literature or research. The purpose of this assignment is to identify where students are at the beginning of the class and to use this perspective as a starting point for discussion. Students must turn a copy of their paper to Aiko and be prepared to engage in a small group discussion about their paper. This assignment is credit/no credit.
Paper assignments: A series of written assignments will integrate class concepts and readings through analysis of a substantive area of student interests.
1. Demographic briefing on poverty or inequality. Students will complete a four page demographic briefing on economic (income or wealth) or social inequalities within or between demographically defined groups. Example: children and poverty; wealth among older women and men; income disparities and voter participation; or Latino families and health care access.
2. Paper on competing perspectives and policies. Building upon the first assignment (demographic briefing), students will critically analyze policy implications that derive from two competing theoretical perspectives on the cause of poverty or inequality.
3. Final Paper. For the final paper, students will revise and combine the first two parts and integrate class readings.
Written work should follow format guidelines on page 13 of the SSW Guidelines for Student Papers. Use a standard 12 point font (such as Garamond, Times or Arial, not Courier), double-space lines, and staple multiple-page assignments in the upper left-hand corner. Major assignments will be accompanied by assessment rubrics. Because of the time-frame of the course, the instructor may not have adequate time to comment on assignments turned in past the due date and students will not be able to reflect on comments. Late assignments will automatically lose one half point (0.5 on a 4.0 scale) per day.
Work submitted should be the student’s original writing created in response to the assignment in question. The student conduct code of the University of Washington requires students to practice "high standards of academic and professional honesty and integrity." In addition, the School of Social Work's academic standards specify that students may be dismissed for "academic cheating, lying, or plagiarism." Students who are suspected of cheating or plagiarism will be confronted directly by the instructor, who will inform the program director and the assistant dean for student affairs. Instructors will not award credit for work that has been plagiarized. The instructor, director and assistant dean will determine if the student's actions warrant disciplinary action, which may include probation or dismissal. Your program manual contains a fuller explanation of plagiarism and suggestions for avoiding it.
Data analysis & presentation: There will be two small group projects requiring students to review data, create an analysis and present their findings to the class. I will provide more information in class about this assignment as well as a grading rubric to give students an idea of what their work should accomplish. Preparing for and completing this assignment should provide an opportunity for students to apply and develop knowledge before tackling aspects of the paper assignment.
Participation: Course format will include lecture, class and small group discussion, and web-based communication. It is hoped that a tone of open discussion will be maintained throughout the course. We have much to learn from one another and this intellectual and personal growth is best achieved by encouraging dialogue and respecting diverse points of view.
Students are expected to attend class regularly, do the assigned reading in advance of class, and participate in class discussions and exercises. Participation and preparation are evaluated in class. If you must miss class, please notify Aiko before class and negotiate a plan for making up your participation.
Each student will be asked to lead the discussion for one reading or set of readings. They will overview the main points than pose 1 questions to foster small group discussion.
Students can also participate in an online discussion of course concepts and readings. On-line participation can be completed via any online computer including the SSW computer lab. The lab is staffed by a consultant, and additional help can be arranged by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the lab at 206-685-2295. I will provide the web address for the discussion board at the beginning of the quarter.
Grading: Numeric grades of 0-4.0 will be given according the following scale: A/A- 4.0-3.5 Mastery of subject content, demonstration of critical analysis, creativity and/or complexity in completion of the assignment. The difference between an A and an A- is based on the degree to which these skills are demonstrated. B+ 3.4-3.1 Mastery of subject content beyond expected competency, but lacking in additional critical analysis, creativity, or complexity. B 3.0-2.9 Mastery of subject content at level of expected competency; meets course expectations. B- 2.8-2.7 Less than adequate competency, but demonstrates student learning and potential for mastery of subject content. NC 2.6 or below Significant areas need improvement to meet course expectations. Grades of 2.6 or below cannot be applied toward graduate degrees.