The Department of Social Work at Lewis University operates under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Department offers a baccalaureate degree grounded in the liberal arts, consistent with the mission of the University, and intentionally designed to build the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) core competencies through the acquisition of knowledge, enhancement of values and mastery of skills necessary in the professional practice of social work. Building on general education courses, Lewis University social work students systematically acquire knowledge in diversity, ethics and values, human development, interventions, and research. The Department's mission and goals lay the foundation for the program's identification of CSWE's ten core competencies all graduates are expected to achieve.
The Department of Social Work, in keeping with the mission of Lewis University, strives to advance knowledge and wisdom, values fidelity, affirms the equal dignity of every person, encourages collaboration and service, and seeks to promote social justice for diverse communities, families, and individuals. The Department aims to graduate competent, responsible entry-level generalist social work professionals and to prepare students for advanced study in social work. As indicated below, the Department operationally defines key concepts in the competencies and utilizes these concepts in the curriculum.
Professional social worker—a person who can think critically and analytically, informed by Lasallian values, who is guided by the NASW Code of Ethics, has a liberal arts background and perspectives and information drawn from the social and behavioral sciences, possesses knowledge drawn from research, and who can apply this information to evidence-based practice. The NASW Code of Ethics is taught in every course, but is emphasized in the practice courses through the use of cases reflecting ethical problems. Skills of policy analysis are taught in the policy course; skills related to interviewing and relationship building are taught in the practice courses; skills related to assessment are taught in the HBSE courses, which build on theoretical work from the social and behavioral sciences. Evidence-based practice is taught in the practice courses. Application of evidence-based practice is developed in both research and practice courses. Student evaluation and self-evaluation occurs throughout the program culminating in the field placement.
Ethical principles—those stemming from the value base of the profession, its ethical standards and relevant law, local, state, and federal. Ethical principles are taught and applied in all core courses. Relevant law is taught in the practice courses and is emphasized in the field work internship.
Critical thinking—simultaneous use of knowledge, historical context, research and judgment that results in reasoned understanding and informed decision making. Relevant information is all available information related to the situation with which the social worker is concerned, including policies (both agency and legal), background of the client, best practices, prior interventions, and current research. Critical thinking is taught throughout the curriculum. However, application of critical thinking to the clients' presenting issues is most strongly emphasized in HBSE; Practice I, II, and III; and Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity courses, as well as in the research course. The level at which the student has integrated knowledge and the ability to think critically is assessed in all courses but most fully in the field work internship.
Diversity—the intersection of multiple factors including age, class, race, ethnicity, immigration status, sex and sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, political ideology, and religion. Diversity also includes differences that impact a person's experiences such as oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. These factors exist along a continuum, and this continuum must be recognized relative to self and others. These issues are introduced in the General Education required course Cultural Diversity and Intergroup Relations course and developed in Cultural Sensitivity in Social Work Practice course. Human Behavior in Social Environment courses also emphasizes the impact of diversity on the person's life trajectory.
Human Rights—basic human rights are freedom, food, clothing, shelter, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social and economic freedom requires that all people have these rights and have the power to achieve a minimum of level three, belonging, on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The rights of all humans to these basic rights are emphasized throughout the curriculum along with methods to assess whether or not persons have these rights and approaches to advocating for them.
Research-informed practice—practice utilizing knowledge of evidence-based interventions, issues effecting particular populations, and current theories and research related to human development in general. Research-informed practice is emphasized in the Practice I, II, and III courses as well as in the research course. Best practices based on social work ethics is an important part of both research and practice courses.
Practice-informed research—research that is based on information and wisdom drawn from practice. The research course emphasizes practice-informed research and knowledge of on- going assessment of client outcomes. Also stressed is the need for ethical research and for ethical practice.
Human behavior and the social environment (HSBE)—encompasses knowledge of human behavior across the life course, the range of social systems in which people live, and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Knowledge of these issues is acquired in HBSE I and II. Application and skills to elicit information about these issues are taught in the practice courses.
Policy practice—policy practice includes the way administrative regulations and laws effect service delivery and the ways in which social workers actively engage in policy practice. In order to be effective, this means that policy practitioners know the history and structure of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development. This material is found in the Introduction to Social Work course, the Social Policy course in the Practice I, II, and III courses. Students explore this relationship further in the Field Work Internship.
Contexts that shape practice—organization, community and societal contexts that are dynamic and ever changing. Proactively responding is key in demonstrating that contexts that shape practice are understood. Contexts that shape practice constitute foundation knowledge and are introduced in HBSE courses. Practice I, II and III courses enhance and build on this knowledge and are fundamental to shaping practice skills. Case examples are utilized to sharpen students' ability to proactively respond to the context of practice. Student skills in this area are tested in the Field Work Internship.
Only students who graduate from a CSWE accredited program are eligible to apply for the social work licensure in the State of Illinois. For more information on licensure, contact www.idfpr.com.