SOWO 834 T U

SOWO 834
Tonya VanDeinse, MSW, PhD Candidate
School of Social Work UNC-CH
Office 402A, Tate Turner Kuralt Building
Email: [email protected]
Before class and by appointment
Students select their policy topic and choose one of two options for analysis focus: (a)
comparative analysis across two states in the U.S. and federal policy; or (b) a comparative
analysis between the U.S. and two other nations and develop analytic and advocacy briefs.
At the conclusion of this class students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate the comparative analytic, and value assessment skills that enable social workers
to evaluate selected state, national and international policies and apply change strategies.
2. In relation to their selected topic, discuss and critique relevant social theories, ideologies,
welfare regimes, and outcomes in three nations or across two states and federal policy in the
U.S.—especially as they relate to diverse and vulnerable populations.
3. Demonstrate specialized knowledge, understanding of relevant research and policy
implementation issues in selected nations or states.
4. Compare and explain the comparative ethical responsibilities of social workers as delineated
in the NASW Code of Ethics and the IFSW Statement of Principles, and human rights and social
justice issues noted in relevant UN Declarations.
5. Apply social work ethics and the concepts of human rights and social justice to policy
analysis, development and change strategies.
6. Discuss and critique the role of political/social/economic theories and ideologies, the impact
of the global economy, and values that shape policy alternatives and outcomes, especially as they
relate to marginalized populations.
7. Understand the development perspective in relation to selected social policy issues.
8. Demonstrate policy practice strategies applying analytic, political, values clarification,
advocacy, and communication/organizing skills.
9. Critically analyze selected social policies from state and national or international perspectives
applying the course’s framework for comparative analysis.
10. Demonstrate skill in position taking and advocacy strategies.
11. Engage in peer-learning, class exercises, debate and discussion of a range of policies and
policy practice issues and strategies and identify policy principles, provisions, and outcomes in
self-selected area.
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12. Demonstrate specialized knowledge and expertise in policy analysis, research and
implementation in a policy environment of the student’s own choosing.
This course focuses on skill development in comparative policy research, analysis, and advocacy
that can be focused within the United States or internationally. The course is based on the ethical
responsibility of social workers to engage in policy and advocacy practice. Students’ selected
areas of social policy will be emphasized.
Students will be able to trace a law from its development to its implementation and identify the
values and theoretical approaches evident in the policy and in the debate surrounding the policy
(e.g., How is the notion of a just society or just policy conceptualized? What is the value conflict
surrounding the debate about the policy?). Students will also be able to articulate the role of
federalism as it relates to implementation and the role of social workers.
MSW Students: SOWO 530. Graduate students in other departments: Experience in policy,
and/or advocacy, a graduate course in social policy, and permission of the Instructor.
Libby, P.J. (2011). The lobbying strategy handbook: 10 steps to advancing any cause effectively.
Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications
Reisch, M. (2014). Social policy & social justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications
Additional readings selected for the course will be posted on Sakai and other optional readings
are included at the end of this syllabus.
This course is constructed as a seminar with presentations and discussions that introduce policy
and policy practice issues, tensions, and contexts. Students are expected to apply these
discussions and presentations to their specific policy area. Students may focus primarily on
policy practice in the United States, on international comparative policy, or on a combination.
Students are expected to work together to build a positive, learning-focused culture in the class,
and apply critical thinking skills to examine policies from multiple points of view, not simply
their preferred viewpoint.
FORMAT FOR WRITTEN WORK: APA format should be used for all written assignments.
Students should refer to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th
ed.) for information on APA format:
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American
Psychological Association, 6th Edition. Washington, D.C.: American
Psychological Association.
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Students should also consider the UNC writing center (Phillips Annex) for on-line and tutorial
help ( or 962-7710).
The School of Social Work operates on an evaluation system of Honors (H), Pass (P), Low Pass
(L), and Fail (F). The numerical values for these grades are as follows:
H = 94 –100
P = 80 – 93
L = 70 – 79
F = 69 and below
A grade of “P” indicates entirely satisfactory master’s level work. On a traditional grading scale,
a “P” would range from an “A-” to a “B-”. The grade of “H” (Honors) signifies that the work is
clearly excellent in all respects.
POLICY ON INCOMPLETE OR LATE ASSIGNMENTS: An assignment is considered late
if it is submitted any later than the start of class on the day it is due. The grade for late
assignments will be reduced 10% per day, including weekends. That is, if an assignment is
turned in any later than the start of class, the grade will be reduced by 10% if turned in within the
next 24 hours, 20% if turned in within 48 hours, 30% if turned in within 72 hours, etc.
To give some flexibility in meeting requirements in other classes, students will be given a oneweek extension on any assignment, excluding the presentation and final advocacy portfolio. You
do not need to notify me in advance – if I do not have your assignment at the start of class, I will
assume you are using your optional extension.
A grade of Incomplete is given in exceptional and rare circumstances that warrant it, e.g. family
crisis, serious illness. It is the student’s responsibility to request and explain the reasons for an
Incomplete. The instructor has no responsibility to give an Incomplete without such a request.
with disabilities that affect their participation in the course and who wish to have special
accommodations should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources and Services (Voice: 9628300; Relay NC: Dial 711). Students must have a formal letter from the Office of Accessibility
Resources and Services to receive disability-based accommodations. Students should discuss the
need for specific accommodations with their instructor at the beginning of the semester.
Although we will use laptops to complete in-class activities, electronic devices (e.g., cell phones,
laptops, tablets) should not be used during class for social purposes or other activities irrelevant
to the course content. Alerts and notifications on devices should be silenced during class.
POLICY ON ACADEMIC DISHONESTY: Academic dishonesty is contrary to the ethics of
the social work profession, is unfair to other students and will not be tolerated in any form.
Please refer to the APA Style Guide, The SSW Manual, and the SSW Writing Guide for
information on attribution of quotes, plagiarism and appropriate use of assistance in preparing
assignments. All written assignments should contain a signed pledge from you stating that, "I
have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in preparing this written work.” In keeping with
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the UNC Honor Code, if reason exists to believe that academic dishonesty has occurred, a
referral will be made to the Office of the Student Attorney General for investigation and further
action as required.
Assignments focus on developing policy practice skills and understanding how theoretical
frameworks influence and shape policy practice. Assignments for this course are designed to
follow the 10 advocacy steps outlined in the Libby text. The step-wise approach provides a
straightforward roadmap that takes what can be an overwhelming and intimidating process and
breaks it down into manageable steps. Knowing the dimensions of the topic and policy (e.g.,
What does the policy say? Who is impacted? What are the potential unintended consequences?
Who supports the policy? Who opposes the policy? etc.) is the foundation for all other strategies
within policy practice. Consequently, the bulk of the work we do in this class will be situated in
the first three steps of the process: identifying an issue, researching the issue, and understanding
and communicating the facts (Libby’s third step is actually ‘creating a fact sheet’).
Students will choose their own policy area on which to focus for the duration of the semester.
Students should choose an area that is of personal and/or professional interest to them and to
streamline their work throughout the semester; that is, students should relate their policy practice
to areas in which they have current academic or practice experience. Focusing your policy
practice will help manage your workload and also build expertise about your area(s) of interest
To the degree possible, students are encouraged to work directly with agencies and organizations
(perhaps in their field placement settings), advocacy groups, political or issue campaigns, elected
officials, etc. Engaging in policy practice with entities outside of the classroom is meant to
provide students with real world experience that is relevant to students’ careers in social work at
the micro, meso, and macro levels. If students are not able to work with outside entities, the
assignments should be grounded in real (not hypothetical) policy issues involving actual
stakeholders (e.g., agency leaders, advocacy groups, elected officials). The quality, language,
and content of these assignments must be targeted to actual implementation of your strategies.
There are four primary assignments that follow Libby’s 10 Steps.
Assignment 1: Identify your topic and policy- Due 2/3/15
Select a topic on which to focus for the duration of the semester and identify a relevant policy
within this topic. Within the context of this policy, determine what change or issue you will
address (e.g., Are you advocating for creation of a policy? Are you advocating to change a
current policy? Are you addressing your state’s implementation of a federal policy?) and write a
one-page, double-spaced summary of your issue and policy choice.
Assignment 2 (Midterm): Research your topic- Due March 3rd
This is a two-part assignment and will require the most effort and time. As such, this assignment
will serve as your midterm. Although this step of Libby’s process is about research, the actual
product will be a comprehensive policy analysis that requires students to apply a rational or nonrational policy analysis framework to their policy and to compare different policy approaches to
the same social problem. See additional materials on Sakai for instructions.
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Assignment 3: Presentation and fact sheet- Due March 31st or April 14th
Based on the research for the policy analysis assignment, develop a one-page fact sheet and brief
presentation outlining the background and significance of the social problem, key aspects of the
policy, and their proposed (i.e., draft!) policy practice plan. Students will have 10 minutes to
present and discuss their policy. That is, you are given 5 minutes to present and then 5 minutes to
address questions (this will be timed and you will be stopped at the end of the 5 minute periods).
Think of this as an extended “elevator speech.” For the presentation, create a brief one-page fact
sheet to hand out to the class that summarizes key points from the research and provides
justifications for your subsequent advocacy plan.
Assignment 4: Advocacy Portfolio- Due April 21st
Using the steps outlined in the Libby text and drawing from other readings this semester, develop
your plan for addressing your policy issue. These plans are self-directed and based on the context
of the policy, the potential impact of the strategy on the policy change desired, stakeholders
involved, and students’ preference (e.g., students may have strengths in a particular strategy or
may want to develop skills in a particular area).
In developing your plan, consider the remaining steps of the Libby (2012) model:
 Branding the issue
 Identifying potential supporters and detractors
 Forming a coalition
 Developing educational materials
 Launching a media campaign
 Approaching elected officials
You can also draw from any other resource in selecting your strategies.
The final product will be a portfolio of the strategies that you implemented or proposed. If you
did implement all or part of the plan, evidence of this should be included in the portfolio. For
instance, if you submitted an editorial or sent a letter to an elected official, any correspondence
should be included in the portfolio. You will receive extra credit for any aspect of the plan that is
If your policy area or topic overlaps with another student’s interests, you may consider
collaborating on your work. However, management of these assignments and equal sharing of
the work is the students’ responsibility (i.e., I will not monitor or resolve group work issues or
conflicts). Further, if you are working in pairs or in groups, I expect that your advocacy plan will
be more comprehensive and aspects of the plan will be implemented.
Class preparation, engagement, and attendance
To ensure a positive and engaging learning environment, you are expected to:
 Attend class- a major feature of this course is class discussion and peer feedback. We need
everyone’s perspective in order to enhance the learning environment
 Complete the reading- You should come to class having read the material AND thought
about how the reading applies to your own topic. I will do my part to indicate the section of
readings that are the most important and the sections you can skim or skip entirely. In-class
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activities and assignments will be based on your application of the reading to your specific
topic area.
Participate in class - Class participation will not be measured by the frequency you speak
during class. Rather, participation is measured by your engagement in activities, namely
completion of in-class assignments (project check-ins) and performance as a peer discussion
group member.
Project check-ins
Throughout the semester, you will complete in-class activities and group discussions about
your individual policy projects. The purpose of these check-ins is to keep you on track to
complete your research project and to provide opportunities for peer and instructor feedback.
From time to time, I will collect the product of your in-class activities (e.g., worksheets,
discussion summaries) to review. You will receive an H, P, L or F for these in-class
assignments. Students who are not in class to complete project check-ins and in-class
assignments will not receive credit. That is, you will receive an F for the assignment.
For some project check-ins and in-class assignments, you may need access to a computer. If
possible students should bring their laptops to class or ensure that a member of their peer
discussion group has a laptop. Any students having difficulty accessing a laptop should
contact me a week or more in advance of the scheduled project check-in.
Peer discussion group evaluations
As you identify and research your policy topic and choose your policy practice strategies,
you will need to make many decisions and weigh competing priorities. You will be assigned
to a peer discussion group that will complete project check-ins and provide feedback to each
other. The project check-ins are designed to help you think through these decisions and your
peer group can provide valuable feedback as you complete your assignments. At the end of
the semester, students will complete a peer evaluation form for each of the members in the
peer discussion group, including themselves.
Presentation evaluations
Obtaining feedback about our messages is essential to fine-tuning how and what we
communicate during our advocacy efforts. To that end, students will complete an evaluation
and critical feedback form for each of the presenters. Forms will be provided and grades are
assigned based on completion and evidence of critical thinking.
Percentage of final grade
Assignment 1: Identify your topic and policy 15%
Assignment 2: Research your topic
Assignment 3: Presentation and fact sheet
Assignment 4: Policy Practice Portfolio
Class engagement
Project check-ins
Peer group evaluations
Presentation evaluations
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Course Overview
Class 1
Class 2
Course Overview
Social policy and social justice
Values, social construction,
political ideology
Making law
Readings and assignments
 Reisch: Ch 1, pgs 5-23
 Libby: Ch 1 and pgs 103-108
Class 3
Policy analysis I
Class 4
Policy analysis II
Class 5
Class 6
Class 7
Class 8
March 3rd
Caputo, pgs 8-17 (Sakai)
Shneider & Ingram (Sakai)
Libby, ch 4 (Skim or skip)
Take the quiz:
Read an article or scholarly work related
to political ideology or values and your
potential policy area
Reisch, 24-37 & 185-209
Read an article or scholarly work
pertaining to your policy area and either
policy as product, process, or performance
(see the Reisch reading)
Assignment 1 due
O’Conner & Netting, ch 4 and ch 6
Libby, 109-115
Research Day
Class does not meet
Welfare regimes, economic and
political systems
Framing and emotions
March 10th Spring Break-No class
Class 9
Collective action
March 17
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Libby, ch 3
Reisch, 215-234
Caputo, 100-107 (Sakai)
Midterm (Assignment 2) due
Libby, 116-118 (review samples on 118125), 128-129
Reisch 259-276
Tversky & Kahneman (Sakai)
Kam & Simas (Sakai)
Additional reading: TBD
Libby, 130-145
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Class 10
March 24th
Class 11
March 31st
Class 12
April 7th
Class 14
April 14th
Class 14
April 21st
Guest speaker
Agendas and institutions
Class wrap up
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Libby, 147-163
Reading: TBD
Assignment 4 (final) due
Peer discussion group evaluations due
Advanced Policy Practice
Policy Analysis Frameworks (Midterm)
The O’Conner & Netting (2011) chapters outline two overarching approaches to help understand
common themes, assumptions, and theories of policy: rational policy analysis and non-rational
policy analysis. Your task for the midterm policy assignment is to choose a local, state, national,
or international policy and analyze it using either a rational or non-rational framework.
The purpose of this assignment is to allow you to think critically about a selected policy analysis
approach and answer the main points regarding your policy topic. The final product will be 4-6
pages and include three parts:
Part A: In this section you will briefly answer the key questions/points for your selected theory
(options below) as they are written in the text chapters.
Part B: After you have analyzed the policy and responded to the key points outlined in the
chapter, please respond to the following questions:
1. Why did you pick the policy framework you did?
2. What are the merits and challenges of the framework you outlined to understand your
policy issue?
3. Given the analysis you conducted, identify who are the stakeholders involved – who are
the policy beneficiaries and victims (think back to Schneider and Ingram’s 1993 social
construction article)?
Part C: Select a second location for your policy and complete the comparative policy analysis
framework. Students examining policy within the context of the United States should consider
the role of federalism and compare policy across two states. Students focusing on international
policy should consider the type of welfare regime and compare two countries. Students need not
repeat the policy analysis for the comparative policy; rather, students should use the policy
framework (see additional materials posted on Sakai). This grid is based on Gilbert and Terrell’s
framework for policy analysis (presented on page 34 of the Reisch text) and Dr. Marie Weil’s
comparative analysis assignment in previous years. Students should copy and paste this grid into
a separate document and can enter text directly into the grid. Please contact me if you have
difficulty with formatting this grid.
The table below summarizes the frameworks to choose from for Part A (you only need to choose
one!). Lecture notes and reading for class will offer greater detail about the specific questions
and elements of each framework.
Rational policy analysis theories
Jansson’s Six-Step Policy Analysis
Huttman’s Policy Analysis Model
Holcomb and Nightingale’s Implementation
Analysis Model
Segal and Bruzuzy’s Questions for Social
Welfare Policy Analysis
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Non-rational policy analysis theories
Stone’s Policy Paradox Approach
Kingdon’s Policy Primeval Soup Approach
Prigmore and Atherton’s Policy Analysis
Guba’s Policy-In-Action Policy Type
Advanced Policy Practice
Comparison 1: (International, U.S. Federal
policy or State policy?
Comparison 2: (International, U.S. Federal Policy
or State Policy?)
1. List the location for your
comparative policy analysis
2. What is the political, economic,
and social context of the policy
Is there a particular political party or
ideology that is dominating the policy
If examining international policies, what
type of welfare regime or welfare state
does the policy exist within?
3. What is the major purpose of this
policy? Why is the policy
What Social Problem is the policy
intended to solve?
How is the Social Problem framed in
each location? What are the values
evident in the way the policy is framed
What is the major goal or purpose of the
policy? What social good is intended to
be accomplished?
What are the long-term anticipated
changes for the target population as a
result of the policy? Is it likely to be
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4. What kind of benefits are to be
offered by the policy?
Examples: cash, in-kind benefits,
services, vouchers, increased
5. What are the bases for social
allocation? Who is entitled to
receive the benefits offered?
Examples: eligibility criteria such as
employment status, residence, family
size, age, military service, gender
6. How are the policy benefits to be
What level of government will deliver
the benefit?
What is the mix of public, nonprofit, and
private sector participation?
Is the policy implementation centralized
or decentralized?
7. How are the benefits to be
Examples: taxes, fees, charitable
Actors, Influences, and Factors
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Who are major actors re the policy?
(consider interest groups and internal or
external NGOs).
What are major influences?
Are there either internal or external
factors that undermine or support this
9. What recommendations would
you make to improve the policy
for each location?
10. Who wins and who loses from
implementation of this policy?
Note Any Other Particularly Important Policy Issues for Analysis of Your Topic:
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Here is a list of additional readings recommended by Dr. Weil. This may be useful as you complete your
assignments for this course.
Austin, M. J. (Ed.). (2014). Social justice and social work. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Chapin, R.K. (2011). Tools for Determining Need and Analyzing Social Policy, Chapter 4 in
Social Policy for Effective Practice: A Strengths Approach. New York: Routledge. pp. 141-168.
DiNitto, D. M. (2011). Social welfare: Politics and public policy. (7th Ed.). Needham Heights,
MA: Allyn and Bacon-Pearson. Chapter 11. The Challenges of a Diverse Society: Gender
& Sexual Orientation, 415-454 & Chapter 12. The Challenges of a Diverse Society: Race.
Ethnicity and Immigration, pp. 455-502.
Fisher, R., Ury, W. & Patton, B. (2012). Getting to yes: Negotiating an agreement without
giving in. New York, NY: Random House.
Gough, I., Wood, G. and colleagues. (2004). Insecurity and welfare regimes
in Asia, Africa and Latin America: Social policy in development contexts.
Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Haynes, K. S. & Mickelson, J. S. (2006). Affecting change: Social workers in the
political arena (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Hoeffer, R. (2011). Advocacy practice for social justice (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Lyceum Books.
Ife, J. (2008). Human rights and social work: Towards a rights-based approach (Rev. ed.). Cambridge, MA:
Cambridge University Press.
Iglehart, A. P. & Becerra, R. M. (2011). Social services and the ethnic community, (2nd ed.).
Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Jansson, B. S. (2011). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social
justice (6th ed.). Belmont CA: Brooks/Cole—Cengage (for approximately $24.00)
Jimenez, J. (2010). Social policy and social change: Toward the creation of social and
economic justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mapp, S. C. (2008). Human rights and social justice in a global perspective. New York, NY: Oxford University
Midgley, J. M. & Livermore, M. (2009). The handbook of social policy, (2nd ed.) Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage.
O’Connor, M. K. & Netting, F. E. (2011). Analyzing social policy: Multiple perspectives for
critically understanding and evaluating policy. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
Prigoff, A. (2000). Economics for social workers. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thompson.
Reichert, F. (2003). Social work and human rights. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Schneider, R. L. & Lester, L. (2001). Social work advocacy: A new framework for action.
Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thompson Learning.
Journal of Social Policy – and other policy journals: Search for content on your selected topic.
Selected Readings from Encyclopedias:
Fitzpatrick, T., Kwon, H-J., Manning, N., Midgley, J. & Pascal, G. (Eds.) (2014). International
encyclopedia of social policy, (Vol.1 and Vol. 2). London, UK: Routledge.
On-Line Encyclopedia of Social Work, (current with ongoing additions) Oxford University Press.
(see Social Policy Entries).
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