Social Work Department

COURSE TITLE: Social Welfare History
PREREQUISITES: COM 131 or 141X; SWK 103 or SOC 100X or ANTH 100X

AUDIO CLASS MEETS: Tuesdays, 5:30-8:30PM

AUDIO CONF. #:  1-800-570-3591
PIN: 3626250

FACE-To-FACE MEETS: Tuesday & Thursday 2:00-3:30PM
LOCATION: Gruening 410

INSTRUCTOR:  Retchenda George-Bettisworth, MSW
PHONE:  907) 474-7025
FAX:  (907) 474-6085
OFFICE HOURS:   Tues. & Thurs. 3:45-5:15 PM and by appointment

Course Description

Social Work 305 (0) analyzes social inequality, the United States social welfare system. and traces historical development of government response to social inequality. It explores historical and persisting dilemmas-ethical, political, social, cultural, and economic-explicit and implicit in social welfare provisioning. The course assists in understanding of social welfare problems and solutions by identifying causal factors directly impacting and ameliorating conditions, and considers the role of social movements in shaping the social welfare system.
Consistent with the mission of the UAF and the Social Work Program, special attention is given to differences in intervention and service provision in rural areas, particularly in rural and village Alaska.

Philosophical and Theoretical Framework

This course focuses upon the historical evolution of mutual aid to those in need, into the social welfare system that is currently in place in the United States. A major emphasis is on understanding the underlying motivations that lead individuals, organization, and governments to engage in social welfare activities and comprehending the deep-seated societal attitudes that support and constrain these motivations. The reciprocal relationships that exist between the major institutions of society (economic, political, educational, religious, and family) and their impact upon social welfare are analyzed.

Course Goals/Learning Objective

Each of the following course objectives reinforces one or more of the Social Work Department objectives, builds upon curriculum content, and advances knowledge, values and skills for generalist social work practice. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

2.1.4 Engage in diversity and difference in practice:
a. Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power.

Demonstrated by:
1. Student will be able to discuss and evaluate the impact of historical social welfare development on present day provision of social welfare.
2. Understanding of the development of the social work profession and its value base.
3. Understanding the impact of societal values throughout history on the development of our social welfare system and social work profession.
2.15 Advance human rights and social and economic justice:
a. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
b. Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice

Demonstrated by:

4. Student will be able to analyze how the historical and evolutionary development of economic deprivation, discrimination and oppression impact the present day provision of social welfare services to at risk populations distinguished by race, ethnicity, culture, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical or mental ability, age and national origin.
5. Understanding the history of indigenous people, the institution of slavery, and early immigration policies, and how these impacted attitudes towards welfare recipients and welfare policies.
6. Understanding the history and treatment of the Alaska Native and American Indian population and the relationship to the federal government.

2.1.9 Respond to contexts that shape practice:
a. Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services.
b. Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services

Demonstrated by:
7. Student will be able to describe and evaluate how social movements have impacted the development of social welfare programs in the United States.
8. Understanding the historical development of major social insurance and public assistance programs in the United States.
9. Understanding how social advocacy and social reform impacted case work and the mission of social work and how this has influenced services.

Course Readings/Materials

Stern, M. & Axinn, J. (2012). Social Welfae: A history of the American response to need. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson.
Zinn, H. (2005). A People’s History of the United States
*Additional Readings as assigned


This course will utilize a number of different programs and websites. It is important that you have access to a reliable computer source, with decent connection to the internet. This may mean utilizing the on-campus computer rooms at UAF and rural campus sites, local library or other public use options if you don’t have personal access to one.

Please be sure to have access to:
• UA email account. This is provided to you by the university when enrolled in a course, whether full or part-time. Communication regarding this class will be through your UA email account or via BB announcements.
• Web access: Open access course site is available at,
Students are able to access all course materials without a login on the above link. Some discussion posting will be required on this site as well.
• Blackboard: Will be utilized for grading and course announcements. Minimal course material will be available.
• Soundcloud: This is a social sound platform, where you are able to create and share sounds. Access the website at:
You will need to create a free account, if you utilize this website already for personal use, you may want to create one specifically for class/university use. Instructions for how to do this are on Blackboard.
• Google + (DD1 section students): The distance section utilizes Google+ hangouts for regular class meetings. Google+ is an application that comes with your UA email account. You will need to create a Google+ account through your UA email. Further instructions will be provided in class. This format is used for video conferencing, and provides a visual platform for our distance course. If you are located in an area with low bandwidth or are not able to utilize Google+ regularly the regular audio conferencing system will always be available.

Instructional Methods

This course is taught in lecture/discussion format that includes summaries and elaboration of assigned readings.  SWK 305 incorporates the oral intensive requirement for the core curriculum, thus every student in the class will prepare and participate in three oral presentations or activities related to social welfare issues raised in the course readings. Students will receive feedback on each presentation from the instructor and other class members.  These presentations will include:

      1)   A presentation of a social work pioneer, that includes biographical information, information on the cause and activities the leader is known for, and the impact that the individual has had on the profession and society.
      2)  A presentation on a social movement that impacted our current welfare system and highlighting an individual who was a leader in that movement.
      3.)  A presentation on a current social issue related to topics discussed in class.



Course Policies

  1. Attendance, tardies, and participation:  Besides credit toward the final grade, it is to the student’s benefit to attend class since much learning about course material occurs during the class times from discussing experiences, readings, and knowledge shared.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class, and calculated in the final grade.  Announcements regarding any changes, upcoming activities or how the class will proceed right after attendance is taken.  Students who come in late may not be briefed on these announcements.  It will become the student’s responsibility to find out from a classmate any missed information.Students are expected to have read required assignments before coming to class.  Students are   expected to contribute to class discussion.
  2. Plagiarism.  Plagiarism is never acceptable.  According to U.A.F. 2013-2014 Catalog:  Academic Regulations, plagiarism is preventable by students “not representing the work of others as their own. A student will attribute the source of information not original with himself or herself (direct quotes or paraphrases) in compositions, theses, and other reports.”  Plagiarism includes copying in whole or in part from websites, articles, books, handouts, pamphlets, etc.  If you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism or how to cite the work of others in your papers, please ask.
  3. Incompletes, Withdrawals and No Basis Grades.  If a student is unable to complete or regularly attend this class on a regular basis, there are several possibilities for the final grade.   Students are able to withdraw (W) from the course up until mid-semester.  If students do not withdraw, but have not attended more than 75% of the classes AND submitted 75% of the coursework, students will earn a No Basis (NB) grade.  In order to receive an incomplete (I) for this course, students must have completed 75% of the required work for the course, attended 75% of classes, and have a written plan with a timeline conveyed to the instructor and approved by said instructor prior to the end of the semester. Students must initiate this request.  Allowing incomplete is entirely at the discretion of the instructor.  Social work majors are required to earn a “C” or better in this class.



  1. Social Work Pioneer. Identify a social work pioneer (educator, clinical practitioner, or organizer) a present a 12-15 minutes presentation to the class. The presentation should include biographical information, information on the cause and activities the leader is known for, and the impact that the individual has had on the profession and society. Also include at least 5 references for further information this reformer (only three can be websites). (100 pts)
  2. Social Issue Presentation.  This 2nd presentation is a persuasive speech.  A persuasive speech is used many times by politicians, and specifically during electoral debates.  The speaker is trying within their speech to sway the audience to their position.  You will choose from a list of current social issues provided.  If a specific social issue is not on the list, please discuss with me to determine if it’s appropriate.
    Topic examples:  (1) Abortion is a woman’s personal right.  (2)  Abortion is a form of murder.  You will be trying to sway your audience to your position.  See handout for specific instructions. (100 pts.)
  3. Social Movement presentation and resource page.  Select a social movement of interest to you in the history of our nation (suffrage movement, anit-lynching movement, specific labor movements such as the garment workers or coal miners, civil rights movement, women’s movement, American Indian Movement, Farm Workers Movement, welfare rights movement, Gay Pride movement, disabilities awareness movement, tenants rights movement, livable wage movement, anti-sweat shop movement, etc). On this topic, research and discuss the following:
    1. How did the movement originate, what events or social problems precipitated the movement?
    2. Who was the initial leader or leaders of the movement? How did the leaders get involved?
    3. What were the major issues or demands of the movement?
    4. What actions were taken by the organization to gain public notice and bring about change?
    5. What changes resulted from this social movement in society in general and in the social welfare system in particular?
    6. What was the role of the social work profession or individual social workers in this movement, if any?
    7. Why did you choose this movement and what was your personal reaction to what you learned while researching this topic.The presentation on this research should be approximately 20 minutes. A resource paper listing important dates in the movement and at least 4 reference sources for information on the movement and leader must be turned in on the day of the presentation. (100 pts)
  4. Reaction Papers. There are articles in your readings that are either by or about an important social work figure in history. You need to choose 4 articles to complete a 1 page reaction paper.The paper should address the following: thinking about the era in which they lived, (1) How did they identify the problem and was it at a micro, mezzo, or macro level and (2) How did they tackle the problem, was it at the micro, mezzo, or macro level. You need to complete a total of 4 article reaction papers to be submitted the week directly after the article is assigned. Each paper is worth 10 points each, totaling (40 pts.)
  5. Final exam. One cumulative take home final exams covering readings, videos and class discussion will be given. Students are expected to refer to the texts and videos in their essay/short answer responses. (100 pts.)
  6. Soundclound participation. Soundcloud is a website that is utilized in this course, it is important that you fully participate in the use of this site. (10 pts)
  7. Attendance:  Attendance will be taken, and missing classes will result in a loss of attendance points.  0-1 absences = 50 points; 2-3 absences = 35 points; 4-5 absences = 20 points; more than 5 = 0 points. (50 points possible).

Assignment Summary: Possible Points
Presentation 1= Social Work Leader Presentation 100
Presentation 2 = Social Movement Presentation 100
Presentation 3 = Social Issue Presentation 100
Sound cloud activities/participation 10
4 Reaction paper, 10pts each 40
Final Exam 100
Attendance 50
Total Possible Points 500

Grading Scale:
A = 500-450
B = 449-400
C = 399-350
D = 349-300
F = 299 and below

Social work majors are required to earn a “C” or better in this class.

Support Services

As a UAF distance student, several services are made available to you to assist in your academic endeavors:

    • Speaking Center
      Students can go to the Speaking Center to receive help in conceiving, organizing, writing, delivering, and refining an individual or group presentation. Student may have their presentations digitally recorded for their own viewing.
      Students should email or call  907-474-5470  to set an appointment.
    • Library Access
      All students are given a student ID and password that enables them to access full-text and journal articles and other resources through UAF’s Elmer Rasmuson Library.  Access to the library is available at academics/libraries.html
    • The Distance Librarian
      The UAF library staffs a full time librarian to assist students outside of the Fairbanks area.  The distance librarian is available to research specific items, to assist students in the research process, and is available to assist with interlibrary loans.  Students can contact the distance librarian by emailing  or by phoning 1-800-478-5348.
    • The Writing Center
      The UAF Writing Center is also equipped to assist students at a distance.  Students are able to fax their papers to the writing center, then make an appointment to meet via phone with a writing center staff member.  The contact number for the writing center is 1-907-474-5314 or 1- 800-478-5246.
    • The UAF Helpdesk
      Students are also able to receive technical support related to university email and other UAF related technology issues by contacting the UAF Helpdesk at 1-800-478-4667.
    • Disabilities Services
      The Office of Disability Services implements the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and insures that UAF students have equal access to the campus and course materials. Faculty/Staff will work with the Office of Disabilities Services (203 WHIT, 474-7043) to provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities.