FALL 2003














SOWK 621 L01


ROOM: PFA 3208

Monday 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Instructor: Dick Ramsay

Telephone: 220 5031

Office Hours: By appointment

Phone or email for appointment




A medium [learning] is a process, not a thing, M. McLuhan


Syllabus Statement

An in-depth examination of the relations between knowledge, values, ethics and power and how they shape interventions in social work

Course Description

This course opens the examination of the history and foundations of social work within provincial, national and international contexts to the inquiry method of learning. Students will discover the relations between knowledge, values, ethics and power rather than be informed of them. They will be asked to discover how these relations can be understood from a wholistic worldview. Students will be invited to use the inquiry method and critical thinking approaches to compare and exam the worldview foundations of a minimum of three conceptual frameworks for social work. They will asked to examine how to discover the relevancy of social work’s history and foundations to professional practice and how they will know if any of what is relevant has been integrated with their developing professional identity and application of intervention approaches. 


Learning Objectives


  1. Students will know how to discover the history of Alberta public welfare, North American social work and Western science influences on the evolution of social work and impact on their developing professional identity. 
  2. Students will know how to discover the history and “roots” of social work’s values and ethics and constructively comment on how they are used to guide social work practice across multiple levels, including case law, agency rules, regulatory standards, national and international guidelines.
  3. Students will know how to compare and critique a minimum of 3 conceptual frameworks for social work and discuss the significance of their discoveries on the prospect of a common world framework for social work and complementary development of their own personal practice frameworks.
  4. Students will know how to discover where the concepts of power and privilege influence social work and how an in-depth understanding of these factors can advance the development of anti-oppressive practitioners and elimination of oppressive relationships in social societies.   
  5. Students will discover how to identify and critically think about a variety of knowledge bases that are used to inform core practice components of social work.


Relationship to Other Courses


This course provides a historical and conceptual framework foundation for other 600 level courses in the Foundation Year. The intervention component of the course is closely related to the content of Sowk 641: Models of Practice and applications in Sowk 633: Foundational Field Practicum.


Class Schedule

Introduction Section: September 8

Introduction to course and overview of course outline

            “what goes around, comes around”

Critical inquiry exercise

Inquiry method learning: setting the stage for this process

Scope of examination

Questions we want to answer

Discussing what we know and don’t know

Determining what we want from the instructor

What the instructor would like to contribute

Deciding what we want to find out for ourselves

Determining what we should try to retain from this section

What more do we/instructor need to do to advance our learning

How do we rate what we have got out of this section

Whole systems thinking and demonstrable artifacts

Overview of Introduction chapter – we will look at several concepts: web teaching, dual focus, relationship-centred, shared power/synergy, diversity and non-discrimination, non linear, but not random or chaotic.

Three conceptual frameworks to consider:

            Common Foundation Framework

            Common Base Framework

            Common Whole Framework

Readings for next 2 weeks: Chapter 14; class handouts


Note: All sections will be guided by the inquiry method outlined in the Introduction section


History Section: September 15 and 22

History and the evolution of social work

            Alberta public welfare

            North American social work, including the evolution of regulatory legislation in Alberta

            Influence of western science

History and the impact on the development of professional identity

Readings for next 2 weeks: Chapter 3; class handouts


Values and Ethics Section: September 29 and October 6  

Values and ethics to guide social work practice

We will pay particular attention to the history and development of codes of ethics in Canada and Alberta and to the current work at the international social work level to revise ethical declarations and principles in relation to United Nations conventions and declarations on human rights. Issues related to case law and employer rules of conduct will be discussed in the context of professional ethics. Specific attention will be given to confidentiality, privileged communication, informed consent and duty to inform aspects of the code of ethics.

Readings for next 3 weeks: Chapters 12, parts of 5, 7,8,9,10,11,13; class handouts


Conceptual Framework Section October 13 (no-class), 20, 27 and November 3

Conceptual frameworks and the prospect of a common world framework

Conceptual frameworks and the development of personal practice frameworks

Conceptual framework meetings in the 20th and 21st century

You will be invited to review and discuss an international global standards document that is being prepared for approval by the International Federation of Social Workers in 2004

Linking Foundations for Practice and Fields of Practice to conceptual frameworks and other courses

Readings for next 2 weeks: Chapter 4; class handouts


Power and Privilege Section: November 10 (no-class), 17 and 24

Power and privilege influences on anti-oppressive practice and oppressive relationships.

We will look at number of issues that are raised in the textbook. A particular focus will be given to selected articles from the reading list that students will be invited to discuss. Some of these will include whiteness in relation to power and privilege, and the influence of binary constructs on the perpetuation of power and privilege in relation to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability, socioeconomic status, religious affiliations, and other social dimensions in societies.

Course evaluations

Readings for next 2 weeks: Chapters 1, 2, parts of 5; class handouts


Knowledge Base Section: December 1 and 8

Knowledge bases needed to inform specific components of conceptual frameworks

Knowledge base information will be examined in relation to the person-in-environment, repertoire of methods, personal use of self, and practice options components.


Course Evaluations

Student feedback will be requested Dec. 1 through the standard University and Faculty of Social Work course evaluation forms. An in-class check of progress toward course learning objectives will be facilitated at the end of each section.



Assignment 1 is a learning project that deals with Objectives 1 & 2. Construct a multiple choice and/or short answer exam up to 20 questions for a total of 100 marks and provide the corresponding answers to show that you have met these objectives. Make sure that the historical questions demonstrate you have an understanding of at least 4 of the several conceptual framework meetings in North America between 1925 and 2001. Demonstrate in your questions and answers that you know how case law to international declarations levels of ethical principles and guides are used in social work.                              Weight 25 %                             Due October 20


Assignment 2 is a critical thinking term paper that deals with Objective 3. Develop the question(s) you want to answer and prepare a term paper on your argument for or against the prospect of a common conceptual framework for social work that can serve as a standard foundation for the evolving personal practice frameworks of advanced practice specialists in social work. Use APA format*.     Length 8-10 pages                   Weight 30 %                             Due November 17


Assignment 3 is a critical thinking term paper that deals with Objective 4. Develop the question(s) you want to answer. As you prepare for this assignment, do a literature search for a minimum of 6 articles that you can review to show how you developed an understanding of power and privilege and secondly to put forward your critical thinking position for what you and members of the social work profession need to be able to do with these issues in relation to the profession’s non-discriminatory declarations regarding race, ethnicity, language, religion, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, abilities, socioeconomic status, political affiliation or national ancestry. You may limit your attention to a minimum of three of these factors and their interrelationships (e.g. marital status, gender, sexual orientation; ethnicity, gender, religion, or other interrelationships of your choosing. You may use articles from the reading list, but if you choose all of them from this list, briefly describe what you found from other literature searches and why you chose to stick with the reading list articles.                   

Length 6-8 pages                     Weight 25%                              Due December 8


Assignment 4 deals with Objective 5 and questions related to the other 4 objectives. This will be a two-hour final exam of multiple choice and short answer questions to demonstrate your foundational understanding of knowledge bases that inform core components of social work, including questions on history and conceptual framework content.

Registrar’s exam                     Weight 20%                  Scheduled December 12-22



American Psychological Association (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.  PE1479. P8 A5 2001 (Reserve and 3-day reserve)


For further information about writing a term paper, please refer to the following WebPages: Other APA style guides are also available on the Web.


Course Evaluation

As in all courses, students will complete both the University and Faculty standard course evaluations towards the end of the semester.  In addition to the standard final course evaluations, students will have opportunities to give feedback to the course instructors early in the course and at mid-term so that we can modify the course if needed to improve learning opportunities for students.



Grading will follow the University grading system.


Grade              Point Value             Graduate Description





















































Excellent - superior performance showing comprehensive understanding of the subject.


Very good performance.


Good performance.


Satisfactory performance. Note: The grade point value (3.0) associated with this grade is the minimum acceptable average that a graduate student must maintain throughout the programme as computed at the end of each year of programme for that programme year.


Minimum pass for students in Graduate Studies. Note: Students who accumulate two grades of “B-” or lower can be required by the Faculty to withdraw from the programme regardless of the grade point average.


All grades below “B-” are indicative of failure at the graduate

level and cannot be counted towards Faculty of Graduate

Studies course requirements.



Required Text:

Mattaini, Mark, Lowery, Christine, Meyer, Carol (Editors) (2002). Foundations of Social Work Practice: A Graduate Text (3rd Edition). Washington DC: NASW Press.


Other texts:

Allen-Meares, P. & Garvin, C. (Editors) (2000). The handbook of social work direct practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Capra, F. (1996). The web of life. New York: Anchor Books.


Roberts, A. & Greene, G. (Editors) (2002). Social workers’ desk reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Reading list by Section


Alberta College of Social Workers  


Alberta Association of Registered Social Workers (AARSW). (1999). Standards of Practice, revised October 29, 1999.


Bidgood, B., Holosko, M. & Taylor, L. (2003). A new working definition of social work: A turtle’s view. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 400-408.


Dore, M. (June 1999). The retail method of social work: The role of the New York School in the development of clinical practice. Social Service Review, 168-189.


Dore, M. (September 1990). Functional Theory: Its History and Influence on Contemporary Social Work Practice. Social Service Review, 358-371.


Holosko, M. (2003). The history of the Working Definition. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 271-283.


International Federation of Social Workers. (2000). Definition of Social Work. Approved by General Meeting, Montreal, July 26, 2000.


Kendall, K. (2000). Social work education: Its origins in Europe. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.


Meyer, C. (Winter, 1996). Brief Reflection. Reflections, 37-53.


Perlman, H. (1989). Confessions, Concerns, and Commitments of an Ex-Clinical Social Worker. Looking Back to See Ahead (93-103). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Perlman, H. (1989). Looking Back to See Ahead. Looking Back to See Ahead (211-228). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Ramsay, R. (2003). Transforming the Working Definition of social work into the 21st century. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 324-328.


Ramsay, R. (1999). Toward a Common Paradigmatic Home: Social Work in the Twenty-First Century. Indian Journal of Social Work 60(1), 69-86.


Ramsay, R. (1984). Snapshots of Practice in the Twentieth Century. Le Travailleur The Social Worker. 52(1), Special Edition for the 8th International Symposium of the International Federation of Social Workers, Montreal, August, 1984, 11-20.


Reichwein, B. (2003). Benchmarks in Alberta’s Public Welfare Services: History Rooted in Benevolence, Harshness, Punitiveness and Stinginess. Report prepared for President and Council of Members of the Alberta College of Social Workers, Edmonton, Alberta.


Westhues, A., LaFrance, J., Schmidt, G. (2001). A SWOT Analysis of Social Work Education in Canada. Social Work Education 20(1), 35-56.


Ethics and values

Canadian Association of Social Workers. (1983). Code of Ethics.

IFSW Ethical Principles


Canadian Association of Social Workers: Social Work in Canada, Practice, Social Work Forum


Conceptual frameworks

Bartlett, H. (1970) Common base of social work. New York: NASW


Canadian Association of Social Workers (2000). CASW National Scope of Practice Statement: Approved by CASW Board, March, 2000. ACTS/CASW Bulletin 2(2), 1, 3-4.


Canadian Association of Social Workers (2000). CASW National Scope of Practice Statement: Approved by CASW Board, March, 2000. ACTS/CASW Bulletin 2(2), 1, 3-4.


Capra, F. (2002). The hidden connections: Integrating the biological, cognitive, and social dimensions of life into a science of sustainability. New York: Doubleday. 


Evans, T. The Time is Right for a Common Conceptual Framework: A Response. One of five response papers commissioned for presentation to the Kentucky Conference on Social Work and Education: Reworking the Working Definition, College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, February 9, 2001.


Pincus, A., & Minahan, A. (1973). Social work practice: Model and method. Itasca, IL:



Ramsay, R. (2001). Revisiting the Working Definition: The Time is Right to Identify a Common Conceptual Framework for Social Work. One of five keynote papers selected for presentation to the Kentucky Conference on Social Work and Education: Reworking the Working Definition, College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, February 8-10, 2001.


Ramsay, R. (1994). Conceptualizing PIE Within a Holistic System of Social Work. In J. Karls and K. Wandrei (editors). Person-in-Environment System: The PIE Classification System for Social Functioning Problems (171-195). Washington, DC: NASW Press.


Weick, A. (2001). Essential Social Work. One of five keynote papers selected for presentation to the Kentucky Conference on Social Work and Education: Reworking the Working Definition, College of Social Work, University of Kentucky, February 8-10, 2001.


Power and privilege

Bar-On, Arnon. (2002). Restoring power to social work practice. British Journal of Social Work, 32, 997-1014.


Ben-Ari, A. (2001). Homosexuality and heterosexism: Views from academics in the helping professions. British Journal of Social Work, 31, 119-131.


Chavez, A., Guido-DiBrito, F., Mallory, S. (2003). Learning to value the “other”: A framework of individual diversity development. Journal of College Student Development, 44(4), 453-469.


Croteau, J. (1999). One struggle through individualism: Toward an antiracist white racial identity. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 30-32.


D’Andrea, M. & Daniels, J. (1999). Exploring the psychology of white racism through naturalistic inquiry. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 93-101.


Glauser, A. (1999). Legacies of Racism. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 62-67.


Hall, R. (2001). Biracial sensitive practice: Expanding social services to an invisible population. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 28(2), 23-36.


Jackson, R. (1999). “Mommy, There’s a Nigger at the Door.” Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 4-6.


Johnson, K. & Burrows, K. (2003). Struck by lightning? Interracial intimacy and racial injustice. Human Rights Quarterly, 25, 528-566.


Kiselica, M. (1999). Confronting my own ethnocentrism and racism: A process of pain and growth. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 14-18


Lawrence, B. (2003). Gender, race, and the regulation of Native identity in Canada and the United States: An overview. Hypatia, 18(2), 3-31.


Murray, S. (1997). Explaining away same-sex sexualities. Anthropology Today, 13(3), 2-6.


Nagel, J. (2001). Racial, ethnic, and national boundaries: Sexual intersections and symbolic interactions. Symbolic Interaction, 24(2), 123-139.


Pack-Brown, S. (1999). Racism and white counselor training: Influence of white racial identity theory and research. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 87-92.


Paz Galupo, M. and St. John, S. (2001). Benefits of cross-sexual orientation friendships among adolescent females. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 83-93.


Perry, B. (2002). From ethnocide to ethnoviolence: Layers of Native American victimization. Contemporary Justice Review, 5(3), 231-247.


Powell, R. (2000). Overcoming cultural racism: The promise of multicultural education. Multicultural Perspectives, 2(30, 8-14.


Ross, J. (2002). The sexualization of difference: A comparison of mixed-race and same-gender marriage. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 37, 255-288.


Swim, J., Ferguson, M., & Hyers, L. (1999). Avoiding stigma by association: Subtle prejudice against lesbians in the form of social distancting. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 21(1), 61-68.


Talbot, D. (1999). Personal narrative of an Asian American’s experience with racism. Journal of Counseling and Development, 77, 42-44.


Thurlow, C. (2001). Naming the “outsider within”: homophobic pejoratives and the verbal abuse of lesbian, gay and bisexual high-school pupils. Journal of Adolesence, 24, 25-38.


United Nations. (1992). Teaching and Learning about Human Rights: A Manual for Schools of Social Work and the Social Work Profession. New York: United Nations.


Van Voorhis, R. and Wagner, M. (Winter 2001). Coverage of Gay and Lesbian Subject Matter in Social Work Journals. Journal of Social Work Education 37(1), 147-159.


Knowledge base

Ife, J. (1995). Chaos theory and social work. Paper presented to National Conference, Australian Association of Social Workers, Launceston, July 1995.


Zimmerman, J. (March 1988). Determinism, Science and Social Work. Social Service Review, 52-62.


Weil, M. (1996). Model Development in Community Practice: An Historical Perspective. Journal of Community Practice 3(3/4), 5-67.




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