Social Work

Follow your passion for Social Work

Social workers seek to improve the functioning and life satisfaction of people throughout the life span, primarily through individual and social advocacy. They work with individuals and groups, but also focus on improving communities and the larger environments in which people perform their jobs and function.

When Social Work majors complete their undergraduate education, they can be employed as a school social worker, a probation officer, child abuse investigator, domestic violence advocate, hospital worker, elder in-home worker and others. Social Work majors will tell you they find their education meaningful and rewarding because they are able to make the world a better place for us all.

The Loras Social Work program is certified by both academic and social work accrediting agencies. Many graduates go on to master’s programs in Social Work and related fields.

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SOCIAL WORK STUDENT EXPERIENCE

The Loras Social Work program emphasizes both classroom and experiential learning. In the classroom, professors use active learning processes to teach essential theories, principles and skills.

Practicum placements in a wide variety of agencies and organizations such as residential treatment centers for children and adolescents, nursing homes, probation departments, domestic violence and foster care agencies provide opportunities for students to apply those principles and practices while expanding their professional networks. The experiences students have in practicum also assist students is designing their career goals.

Students run a highly active Social Work Club, which sponsors activities designed to raise awareness about important social issues such as domestic violence and homelessness. They also effectively raise funds and create resources to aid those in need. The Social Work Club at Loras is recognized as one of the most active and successful student organization.

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Major Requirements

Division of Teacher Education & Behavioral Sciences
Leonard Decker, Ph.D., Chair

The Loras Social Work Program provides a supportive learning community that graduates competent, ethical, value-based, generalist social work practitioners who critically use their liberal arts background in service to others. Working with and in partnering agencies, students, grounded in empowerment, actively learn knowledge values and skills, reflect upon those through opportunities in and outside the classroom, adopt and adhere to ethical approaches with diverse populations, and contribute responsibly to an ever growing and changing world. Our goal is to prepare competent, ethical, value-based, generalist social workers.

Social Work Program Rationale:
The undergraduate social work major instills the values, ethics, practice strategies, communication, diversity and knowledge required for students to become effective generalist social workers. The Loras College social work program connects the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practice setting in several ways throughout the four-year curriculum.

The program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Course requirements for the major usually require six semesters for completion. The social work program handbook, which further specifies program requirements, is given to students applying for formal acceptance into the program.

The social work program provides students with a liberal arts background and a strong knowledge base in generalist social work practice. Students may select opportunities to study and practice in child and family welfare, mental health, medical social work, substance abuse, legislation and policy, probation and parole, and many other fields. Additionally, graduates qualify for advanced standing in many Masters of Social Work (MSW) programs.

Senior Performance Requirement (Field Instruction)

As the capstone of their education, senior social work students complete 420 hours of actual social work practice in a social service agency. Students have a choice in completing their field instruction hours. A student can complete field part time over two semesters registering the first semester for L.SCW-446 (4.5 hours) and the second L.SCW-447 (4.5 hours), although most students complete a block placement of 9 credit hours during one semester under L.SCW-448 during the last semester of their senior year. The following are some of the social work students:

Department of Human Services              Department of Correctional Services
Juvenile Court Services                           Hillcrest Family Services
Mercy Medical Center                             Project Concern
School Liaison Services                          Big Brother/Big Sister Program
Hills and Dales                                       Multicultural Family Center
Lutheran Services of Iowa                      Domestic Violence Shelter and Program
Stonehill Care Center                              Riverview Sexual Assault Program
 
Requirements for the major in Social Work (B.A.):
In order to apply for a major in social work, the student completes L.SCW-130: Introduction to Social Welfare, submits a formal application, letters of recommendation and completes a program interview. Students apply to the program while enrolled in L.SCW-231: Human Behavior in the Social Environment. A minimum 2.3 (C+) grade is required to pass major courses and continue to the next course in sequence.

Req Course Cr’s
1   L.PSY-101: Introductory Psychology 3
2   L.SOC-115: Introduction to Sociology 3
3   L.SCW-130: Introduction to Social Welfare 3
Select one from Req 4 (Human Services)
4   L.BIO-260: Human Anatomy and Physiology-AH 4
4   L.PSY-221: Abnormal Psychology 3
4   L.PSY-225: Personality-AI 3
4   L.PSY-285: Drugs & Human Behavior-AH 3
Select one from Req 5 (Culture)
5   L.EDU-265: Multicultural Education-AC 3
5   L.SCW-395: Social Work & Cultural Competency (Topics course) 3
5   L.SOC-250: Aryan Societies-AC 3
5   L.SOC-254: Race & Ethnicity-AC 3
5   L.SOC-390: Social Inequality 3
Select one from Req 6 (Interest)
6   L.BUS-230: Principles of Management 3
6   L.BUS-240: Principles of Marketing 3
6   L.CRJ-120: Introduction to Criminal Justice 3
6   L.ECO-221: Principles of Microeconomics 3
6   L.ECO-222: Principles of Macroeconomics 3
6   L.COM-131: Intro to Mass Communication 3
6   L.COM-210: Principles of Public Relations 3
6   L.POL-101: Issues in American Politics 3
6   L.POL-121: Issues in Global Politics 3
7   L.SCW-231: Human Behavior and Social Environment 3
8   L.SCW-344: Social Policy: Formulation and Analysis 3
9   L.SCW-***: Any additional Social Work Elective 3
10   L.SCW-***: Any additional Social Work Elective 3
11   L.SCW-346: Social Work Practice I 3
12   L.SCW-347: Social Work Practice II 3
13   L.SCW-348: Social Work Practice III 3
Select one from Req 14a and one from Req 14b, or both from Req 14c
14a   L.CRJ-323: Research Methods in Criminal Justice 3
14a   L.SCW-345: Social Work Research 3
14a   L.SOC-332: Research Methods and Methodology 3
14b   L.BIO-274: Experimental Design and Biostatistics-AH 3
14b   L.BUS-250: Business Statistics 3
14b   L.MAT-115: Statistics-FM 4
14b   L.MAT-220: Introduction to Probability & Statistics 3
14b   L.SOC-333: Statistical Analyses 3
14c   L.PSY-211: Research Methods & Statistics I 4
14c   L.PSY-212: Research Methods & Statistics II 4
Select both from Req 15a, or Req 15b
15a   L.SCW-446: Social Work Field Instruction 4.5
15a   L.SCW-447: Social Work Field Instruction 4.5
15b   L.SCW-448: Field Instruction & Portfolio-PJ 9
54 to 63 total required credits
Course Descriptions

L.SCW-130: Introduction to Social Welfare
The role of social welfare in contemporary society; its historical development with emphasis on political, economic and social influences. Special emphasis upon the role of values in the development of welfare. Overview of the of social work profession in a wide range of human service delivery systems. An examination of society’s current response to human need. 3 credits.

L.SCW-190: The Working Poor
Through a hands-on simulation, readings, class discussions, guest speakers, and media presentations, students will gain a foundational knowledge of the history of the working poor in the U.S., the theories regarding causation and reduction, and the grassroots efforts for change as they relate to the social class referred to as the working poor. Students will build on this foundation by developing a specific knowledge of the working poor in the Dubuque community. 3 credits. January term.

L.SCW-231: Human Behavior & Social Environment
A critical evaluation of the theories of human behavior within the context of those biological, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual processes which determine development and behavior throughout the life cycle. Special attention is given to alternative theories that complement the purpose and values of social work practice. Prerequisites: L.SCW-130. 3 credits.

L.SCW-260: Identity & Alternative Lifestyles-AI
This class explores the development of diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identities, families, and communities. Particular attention will be paid to examining the roots, forms, functions, and effects of heterosexism on the LGBT population. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.SCW-265: Cultural Competency in Practice-AC
This course may be especially appealing to students in traditional “helping” professions (social work, education, criminal justice, psychology, etc.), but it will easily apply to students across disciplines. Students will explore theoretical models of cultural competency, the nature of discrimination and oppression, current service delivery systems and attitudes, and skills specific to living and working in a diverse society. Students will leave this course with a balanced and comprehensive view of culture. Students will not simply explore the difference between societal cultures or individual people. They will have the knowledge and skills to understand culture as a complex, unique, and dynamic aspect of every person with whom they interact. 3 credits.

L.SCW-325: Social Work in an Aging Population
Social Work in an Aging Population will provide students with a broad overview of social work practice with older adults. Students will explore social work practice related to the changing demographics and trends in aging, biopsychosocial aspects of aging, end-of-life care, assessment practices with older adults and their families, services within the Dubuque community and nationally for older adults, career paths available in the aging field, and policy implications for practice. 3 credits.

L.SCW-344: Social Policy: Formulation & Analysis
The focus of this course is on the role of the social worker as a policy advocate who addresses social problems in the public and agency/organizational sectors. This course focuses on policy advocacy as an intervention that requires a skill to be learned much like any other intervention skill in direct practice. Topics covered are the historical context of social policy in the United States, how to analyze social policy and understand the government policy-making process and understanding how values, conflicting viewpoints, and competing interests influence social policy. The focus will be on major policy areas and social action. Prerequisite: L.SCW-346. 3 credits.

L.SCW-345: Social Work Research
Students are introduced to the basic steps of the traditional scientific research process. A group research project is carried out following the approval of the Institutional Review Board. The initial results are analyzed and presented to the class. Students are also exposed to alternative research methods such as program evaluation and direct practice evaluation. Prerequisite: L.SCW-231. 3 credits.

L.SCW-346: Social Work Practice I
An introduction to the professional practice of social work with an emphasis upon the values, knowledge and skills of generalist practice. A proactive process of working with individuals and families is offered, including strength-based assessments, cross-cultural competencies and empowerment strategies. Development of written and oral communication skills through the use of interviewing, role plays, videotaping and case studies. Prerequisite: L.SCW-231. 3 credits.

L.SCW-347: Social Work Practice II
This is the second course in a sequence of three generalist practice courses. Practice II addresses practice with families and small groups. The focus is on the group work which entails the deliberate use of intervention strategies and group processes to accomplish individual, group and community goals using the value base and ethical practice principles of the social work profession. Prerequisite: L.SCW-346. 3 credits.

L.SCW-348: Social Work Practice III
This course explores the aspect of generalist practice involving proactive responding to large groups, communities and organizations. Macro skills of working within an agency or organizational leadership, supervision issues, grant writing, fundraising and community organizing are emphasized. Other skills to facilitate meetings, networking, time management, and handling conflict are addressed. Prerequisite: L.SCW-347. 3 credits.

L.SCW-350: Career Options & Professional Practice
An educationally focused community service experience and seminar that emphasizes socialization into the profession of social work. The course combines a three times weekly seminar with agency-based service work in a helping role. A minimum of 100 hours of volunteer work must be completed to receive credit for the course. (This is about 7 hrs a week for the semester). Students are prompted each spring after registration to begin finding their placement so they can begin immediately in the fall. The seminar assists students in exploring their “goodness of fit” with a social work career and in developing an understanding of their own capacities in relation to professional social work competencies. Prerequisites: L.SCW-130 and L.SCW-231. 3 credits.

L.SCW-395: Topics
Social Work topics course. Used to develop courses which have not been approved under another catalog number. See Division Chair for more information.

L.SCW-446: Field Instruction & Portfolio-PJ
Individually planned and supervised experience in a public or voluntary social service agency. The student spends approximately 15 hours per week or 210 clock hours during one semester in placement. Some placements will require students to drive their own car. A weekly two-hour seminar is required of all students in field instruction. Application for field instruction must be made in the semester proceeding the semester in which the course is to be taken. Prerequisite: Prerequisite: All requirements for the major completed. Restrictions: Social Work majors only. 4.5 hours.

L.SCW-447: Field Instruction & Portfolio-PJ
Individually planned and supervised experience in a public or voluntary social service agency. The student spends approximately 15 hours per week or 210 clock hours during one semester in placement. Some placements will require students to drive their own car. A weekly two-hour seminar is required of all students in field instruction. Application for field instruction must be made in the semester proceeding the semester in which the course is to be taken. Prerequisite: L.SCW-446. Restrictions: Social Work majors only. 4.5 hours.

L.SCW-448: Field Instruction & Portfolio-PJ
Individually planned and supervised experience in a public or voluntary social service agency. The student spends approximately 32 hours per week or 420 clock hours per one semester in placement. Some placements will require students to drive their own car. A weekly two-hour seminar is required of all students in field instruction. Application for field instruction must be made in the semester proceeding the semester in which the course is to be taken. Prerequisite: Allrequirements for the major completed. Restrictions: Social Work majors only. 9 credits.

RELATED COURSES: Criminal Justice, Neuroscience, Psychology

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Accreditation

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Accreditation

CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation (COA) is responsible for developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation and ensuring that social work programs meet them. In accordance with the requirements of CSWE’s recognition body, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the CSWE Office of Social Work Accreditation (OSWA) administers a multistep accreditation process that involves program self-studies, site visits, and COA reviews.

Click the button below to review our full Social Work Program Outcomes Progress Report.

2016 Progress Report
Career Opportunities

After receiving your degree from Loras, your career could take off into one of these fields:

  • Foster Care / Adoption
  • Social Mentor
  • Probation Officer
  • Child Abuse Investigator
  • Domestic Violence Advocate
  • Hospital Social Worker
  • Elder In-Home Worker
  • Mental Health Worker
  • Residential Hone Counselor
  • Human Rights Advocate
  • Refugee Resettlement Worker
  • Community Organizer
  • Graduate school for clinical mental health services, school social work, administration, hospice worker, substance abuse counselor
  • Additional career opportunities
Loras College Department Staff

Michelle Bechen, L.M.S.W.
Associate Professor of Social Work
563.588.7325 | Michelle.Bechen@loras.edu

Bechen received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Clarke College and her master of social work from the University of Iowa. Bechen has worked extensively with abuse victims of all ages. She has done work in gang prevention in San Francisco as well as work in prevention of HIV/AIDS, LGBT, drug addiction and homelessness.

Bradley Cavanagh, L.I.S.W.
Assistant Professor of Social Work
563.588.7996 | Bradley.Cavanagh@loras.edu

Cavanagh received his bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Iowa and his master of social work from Saint Louis University. Cavanagh joined the faculty of the social work program at Loras College in 2010 after 10 years of practice experience working with a wide variety of client populations in diverse settings.

Nancy Zachar Fett, L.M.S.W.
Associate Professor of Social Work
563.588.7029 | Nancy.Fett@loras.edu

Fett holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Loras College. She received her master of social work from Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Fett has experience in macro supervision of 12 different “I Have a Dream” program sites in the Chicagoland area and also ran one of the first AmeriCorps programs in the country. She has worked extensively with poverty issues and other social causes in the Dubuque area. She has over 20 years of experience as a social work faculty member at Loras College.