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SW 662 Power, Privilege and Oppression in Society: Implications for Social Work Practice

Throughout this course, we will explore how elements of the social structure construct categories of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, disability and religious affiliation have been transformed into systems of oppression and privilege. The course will assist social work students in understanding the complex nature of the person in the environment taking into consideration the dynamics of social oppression, diversity and social functioning. Students will explore their own personal values, beliefs, and behaviors that may limit their ability to practice effective social work with people of diverse backgrounds, in particular, from disadvantaged and oppressed groups.

Cultural competence is needed at all levels of practice. Understanding the relationship between social oppression and diversity requires recognition of the centrality of diversity as a reflection of the world views of diverse people, the nature of multiple diversities, the cultural strength and richness that is in inherent in all people, the power of personal experience and the inter-relatedness and inter-connectedness of human experience. Various principles for developing cultural competence are presented throughout the course. With an awareness of diversity, social workers aim to bring this awareness to action, which can lead to change resulting in economic and social justice. This approach reflects the need for multi-system analysis, anti-racist and affirmative practice and action on the micro, mezzo, macro levels.