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Social Work

About the Department

The social work department offers the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). We have approximately 64 majors, 3 full-time faculty, and 3 contract faculty. Our classes are taught in the evening and combine the strengths of traditional students and adult learners (1/2 of our majors are adult learners.) The social work program fully prepares BSW graduates for immediate job entry into the diverse field of social work.

Social Work Department Mission Statement

La Sierra University Social Work Department's mission is to provide dynamic and comprehensive undergraduate education in strengths-based ecologically oriented generalist social work practice grounded in Adventist traditions of servant-leadership, activism, and progressive understanding of truth. Within this Christian context we embrace diversity, i.e., learners of all ages and backgrounds and faculty nurture and mentor students to become competent professionals. Thus, our mission has three integrated component:

Educational mission: To develop competent and ethical social workers who appreciate and value human diversity and are fully prepared to engage in culturally responsive and competence practice with all members of society -locally, nationally, and globally-especially with groups that are marginalized, disadvantaged, oppressed, vulnerable and wounded.

Practice mission: To train professionals committed to promoting and advocating for equality, human rights, social and economic justice for all and are ready to act as change agents from a servant-leader perspective, which involves nurturing skills and capacities of all client systems as they strive to fulfill their potential and realize their goals.

Scholarly mission: To develop social work professionals who are critical thinking lifelong learners willing to produce and apply knowledge that is culturally relevant, ethically principled and socially just.

Core Competencies

To operationalize its core competencies, the Social Work Department at La Sierra used all the practice behavior identified by CSWE. The competencies and the practice behavior that operationalize them are identified below:

1. Identify as a professional Social Worker and conduct oneself accordingly is operationalized with the following six practice behaviors: a) Advocate for client access to the services of social work; b) Practice personal reflection and self correction to assure continual professional development; c) Attend to professional roles and boundaries; d) Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication; e) Engage in career long learning; f) Use supervision and consultation.

2. Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice is operationalized with the following four practice behaviors: a) Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice; b) Make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work Statement of Principles; c) Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts; d) Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principle decisions.

3. Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments is operationalized with the following three practice behaviors: a) Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom; b) Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation; c) Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

4. Engage diversity and difference in practice is operationalized with the following four practice behaviors: a) Recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may oppose, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power; b) Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups; c) Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences; d) View themselves as learners & engage those with whom they work as informants.

5. Advance human rights and social and economic justice is operationalized with the following three practice behaviors: a) Understand (sic: "can identify and articulate") the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination; b) Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice; c) Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

6. Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research is operationalized with the following two practice behavior: a) Use research evidence to inform practice; b) Use practice experiences to inform scientific inquiry.

7. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment is operationalized with the following two practice behaviors: a) Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, Intervention, and evaluation; b) Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.

8. Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services is operationalized with the following two practice behavior: a) Analyze, formulate, an advocate for policies that advance social well-being; b) Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

9. Respond to contexts that shape practice is operationalized with the following two practice behaviors: 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.

10. Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities is operationalized with the following thirteen practice behaviors grouped under four categories:

10a. Engagement—i) Substantively & affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; ii) Use empathy and other interpersonal skills; iii) Develop mutually agreed-upon focus of work & desired outcomes;

10b. Assessment—i) Collect, organize, and interpret client data; ii) Assess client strengths and limitations; iii) Develop mutually agreed-upon intervention goals & objectives; iv) Select appropriate intervention strategies;

10c. Intervention—i) Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals; ii) Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities; iii) Help clients resolve problems; iv) Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients; v) Facilitate transitions and endings;

10d. Evaluation—i) Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions.

Social Work Department Goals

La Sierra University Social Work Department seeks to prepare its graduates to be ethically principled, culturally responsive generalist practitioners who value activism yet are sensitive and responsive to individuals' rights to self-determination. Its educational goals are derived from its mission. The goals of La Sierra University Social Work Department are to:


1. Provide professional strengths-based ecologically oriented social work education at the baccalaureate level in the context of an accredited Christian university that values servant-leadership, activism, and the progressive nature of truth.

2. Create a program that is inclusive of and responsive to the educational needs of learners of all ages and backgrounds thereby producing entry-level generalist social workers who value the range of differences within each human diversity dimension and are fully prepared to engage in culturally responsive and competent practice with client systems at all levels -micro, mezzo and macro.

3. Infuse throughout the program the values and ethics that guide the profession thereby developing ethically principled social work practicioners who are cognizant of their strengths and areas for growth and are committed to enhancing their personal growth, professional knowledge, and skills as life-long learners.

4. Produce strengths-based ecologically oriented social workers committed to creating a just society by advocating for social and economic justice, human rights, and equality for all being mindful of and ready to respond proactively to the evolving and dynamic nature of social and societal contexts.

5. Create a climate that fosters critical thinking, an interest in scholarship and scientific inquiry, and a willingness to explore and evaluate new knowledge and understanding of our world, human behavior, and client systems.

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