in a previous post, faculty at UCLA rolled out a brand new curriculum for the MSW program for the 2010 - 2011 academic year. For the most part, changes appear to be positive. However, as expected with the rollout of any new program, students have a few qualms about the curriculum content and design. For example, many students feel that the program does not focus enough on topical issues such as the LGBT social rights movement.
While fall quarter was relatively stressful (transitioning back to a grad school does pose a few challenges), winter quarter definitely felt more relaxed. This was largely driven by the fact that we had the majority of Fridays off.
For those interested in learning specifics about the program's curriculum, the following is a brief rundown of my schedule and class experience for winter quarter.
M: Field Placement (8-5)
T: 240B (9-12), 201B (2-5)
W: Field Placement (8-5)
Th: 230B (9-12), 201C (2-5)
F: No scheduled classes
201B: Development, Risk, Resilience, and Attachment Relationships in a Multicultural Society
This human behavior course provided an overview of how empirically based theories can be applied to individuals, groups, organizations, and macro systems. The first five weeks was heavily focused on attachment theory, while the second five weeks covered ego psychology, object relations, and social learning theory. The teacher did an excellent job applying the theories to case vignettes and real-world examples. If nothing else, students gained a strong understanding of how secure and insecure attachment relationships play a role in the lives of our clients across the life span. The teacher, Sharon Chun-Wetterau, is also fantastic. I highly recommend taking a class from her.
Average reading/week: 50-80 pgs
Texts: Inside Out and Outside In: Psychodynamic Clinical Theory and Psychopathology in Contemporary Multicultural Contexts
Major Assignments: Midterm exam (case vignette); Final term paper (10-12 pgs)
Caveats: Those who majored in psychology or related fields in their undergrad might experience some repetition.
201C: Dynamics of Human Behavior: Community and Organizational Perspectives
While I am a micro student with a mental health specialization, I thoroughly enjoyed this policy class. Main themes discussed in the classroom included issues of diversity, inequality within the school system, and the dynamics of racism intersecting with other forms of oppression such as heterosexism, ableism, classism, ageism, etc. We spent a significant portion of the class evaluating Paul Tough's journalistic account of The Harlem Children's Zone, called Whatever it Takes. The final project required students to design an intervention utilizing a theory of change (my section was required to develop one for school-aged children in LAUSD).
Average reading/week: 40 pgs
Texts: Whatever It Takes
Major Assignments: Midterm reflection paper, Group intervention design with presentation and final paper
Caveats: Unfortunately, the sentiment I have of the class was not shared among all sections of my cohort. Numerous individuals felt the final group assignment was assigned way too late, and many felt expectations were not clearly delineated upfront.
230B: Theory and Methods of Direct Social Work Practice
This was a continuation class from the first quarter, and part of a year-long sequence that covers core concepts of generalist social work practice. Students do have the ability to select different professors and sections depending on availability. Class material focused on carrying out evidence-based practices with clients including case management, crisis intervention, brief and supportive therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), solution-focused therapy, and motivational interviewing. Role playing was particularly helpful in grasping core concepts of each intervention. If you have a chance to take the course from Rebecca Danelski, I highly recommend her.
Average reading/week: 40 pgs
Texts: Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skills; course pack reading
Major Assignments: Midterm exam (case vignette), Final exam (case vignette)
Caveats: While this class is essential for micro students, course material is not as relevant to macro/policy students. Also, one quarter is not nearly enough time to cover evidence-based practices. As little as one class was devoted to a given theoretical perspective.
240B: Theory of Social Work Practice in Organizations, Communities and Policy Settings
This was another continuation course from first quarter. However, students were required to stay in the same section as the fall quarter in order to continue a macro project investigating mental health barriers in an older adult population. My particular section had a lot of flexibility to define the terms of our final project. We decided to create a market segmentation of underserved older adults who are in need of additional mental health services. The final "prezi" can be viewed HERE.
Average reading/week: 30-60 pgs
Texts: Social Work Macro Practice
Major Assignments: Program Logic Model, Community Project Final Report and Presentation
Caveats: As I mentioned previously, the macro project took up an overwhelming portion of time both in and outside of class.