SW 3223
Social Work and the Organization

Calendar Description

This course is designed to assist students to practice within human service organizations and to participate in the process or organizational development and change.

Course Objectives

The following objectives will be the themes for the course.

Our approach to them will depend on class interests and resources.

1. To enhance understanding about organizations; structures, cultures and systems with particular reference to agencies locally.

2. To gain knowledge about organizational change and to develop skills in bringing it about

3. To learn more about how to enter, survive and thrive in a human services organization

Course text and resources

Mills, A. J. & Simmons, T. (1995). Reading organization theory: A critical approach. Toronto: Garamond.

This book provides a critical perspective that is compatible with a structural social work ideology. It outlines traditional thinking about organizations and then critiques it. I expect that we will use it quite a lot. It may be useful for other courses too.


My philosophy of social work education includes the following notions:

that we learn the most when we are active participants in our learning;

that "whole person" learning involves the head, the hand, the heart and the soul;

that teaching and learning involves change, challenges and risk taking for student and instructor;

that social work courses should address issues of interest and concern to students;

that issues relating to confidentiality should be discussed in each course;

that the Course Outline represents a contract between instructor and students, discussions leading to changes may be made in the very early part of the course but when initial changes have been made all parties should fulfill the requirements contained within the course outline;

that instructors, who have ultimate responsibility for the course design, should always inform students about course requirements and may also decide to consult students or delegate to students some authority in regard to the course design;

that students have the responsibility to ensure that they are clear about course requirements;

that instructors have a responsibility to assist students to develop skills in relating ideology to theory and theory to practice;

that instructors should be available to assist students with their learning, students should be encouraged to take the initiative to arrange meetings with instructors for this purpose;

that within each class the resources of each class member (students and instructor) should be available to further the learning of those present;

I would like to discuss these principles, and how they relate to this course during the first two weeks of the course. I would also like these principles to form the basis of an agreement between us regarding teaching and learning in this course.


1. Learning and Evaluation Proposal

Learning and Evaluation Contract - due date October 6th, 15% term mark

"If we are clear about where we want to go we stand a good chance of getting there" (Clews, 1997). Each student will write a proposal in which they outline what they want to learn, how they propose to learn it and how they wish to be evaluated. This will form the basis of individual contracts between the instructor and each student. After preparing the proposal each student will make appointment(s) to meet with the instructor to finalize the contract. The final written contract should be completed by the end of September. Unless agreed otherwise, these contracts will be available to members of this class and other classes.

It is expected that students will spend a minimum of 30 hours on assignment work for the course.

Students who submit proposals including the items below by the due date, who reach agreement with the instructor in regard to their work and who complete the written contract by the due date will be awarded the full 15% of term mark for the assignment. Assignments can be carried out in groups or individually.

Proposals should include:

- your personal learning objectives

- a statement about how each of the three course objectives outlined on the previous page will be addressed through study and assignment work

- assignments which includes the following:

written products equivalent to at least 2000 words (8 typed sides, double spaced) per student

one or more products which can be shared with the class

one or more products which require direct involvement with a human service organization

(involvement may mean making use of an agency document which is available to the public or it may mean carrying out a project for the organization, the organization may be an agency where you are working [have worked] or your practicum agency)

- an initial reference list

- criteria for evaluation of each assignment

- a way for me to give you formal feedback by October 29th (university requirement)

- due date for each assignment

I expect that the proposals will be between one and two sides long.

Students are encouraged to talk to the instructor or request class time to talk about their plans before completing the written proposal.

2. Assignment(s) as outlined in "Learning and Evaluation Contract" 72% term mark

When each of the assignments is complete, students should submit a proposed grade and justify the grade proposed. I will consider this submission but may not award the grade proposed by the student.

3. Attendance and participation 13% term mark (1% term mark for each class)

It is expected that students will attend each class unless urgent and unforseen events prevent this. If a student is absent from a class s/he will not be awarded the class mark unless an explanation is given about the urgent and unforseen reason for their absence. It is expected that all students will participate in class discussions. Students who engage in private conversations during class time may not be awarded their mark for the class in which this occurs.


1. Assignment package 1

-Write a paper which includes an agency analysis, an assessment of desirable change within the agency and a strategy for bringing about this change.

- Do a class presentation and lead a discussion about "making use of supervision in a human service organization"

2. Assignment package 2

-Identify a topic of interest which relates to all three objectives. Read and review up to 6 written documents or parts of documents about this interest, at least one of these documents should be a document from a human service agency.

-Devise and conduct a class exercise to enable you to share your learning

3. Assignment package 3

-Plan a class session/part of a session relating to any one of the three topics

-Produce a list of readings to cover the other two sections

-Take-home exam on topic to be agreed

4. Assignment package 4

- Work with the instructor to plan all or part of a section of work

- Produce a paper in which you analyze the culture of a human service agency and indicate why you think that this culture has developed

- Annotated bibliography to cover all or part of another section

5. Assignment package 5

-Invite a guest speaker to talk about "which resumes get interviews" and what employers look for

when hiring staff

- Plan a class session of simulated job interviews

- Term paper which covers the other areas

Each of the assignments in a package could be done by one or more students but it is expected that each student will spend 30 hours on assignment work for the course outside of the classroom.

These are examples, be creative in devising work that will enable you to pursue your own interests and share your knowledge and skills with other class members. The more that you can relate your work to the real world of practice the better.

Please do not be put of by the number of references on the schedule or the reference list which follows. I do not expect you to read all of this. I will cover the bare bones in class. The references will permit further study if you are interested and if it relates to your project work. I have many more publications in my office available for very short loan.

I hope that your work will enable us to work in a seminar style for much of the course. Feel free to pick topics from the schedule for your assignment work and lead discussions for all or part of class sessions.

In previous classes we have invited guest speakers from many different organizations, simulated interviews, considered how to bring change in a difficult practicum, experienced a workshop on stress management, considered workload management. We can design a course that meets learning

goals if we think creatively and use the class resources.


I list library references. Unfortunately several are not in the library. I have copies for quick reference. HV 40 generalist social work textbooks usually have a section.

Adamson, N., Briskin, L., McPhail, M.(1988). Feminist organizing for change. Don Mills, ON: Oxford Chapter 7, pages 229 - 255 Feminist organizations and the feminist process

This chapter bridges work on community development and organizations. It provides a feminist critique of traditional organizational theory as well as suggesting alternatives that derive from different feminist perspectives. Useful complement to the Working Collectively" pamphlet. Canadian.(HQ 1453. A 28)

Chaiferi, R. and Griffin, M. (1997). Developing fieldwork skills. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Ch 2, 3, 6

Another practical little book that may be useful for the third section of the course. Chapter 2 is about "finding your place in the organization", chapter 3 addresses "making use of supervision" and Chapter 6 is entitled "surviving in the work setting". Some of you have already used this book for the groupwork course. US (HV 40 11C 1453)

Fisher, R & Karger, H. J. (1997). Social work and community in a private world. White Plains, NY: Longman.. Chapter Seven (pp 149 - 173)

This chapter considers democratizing the workplace. It considers differences between employee oriented and management controlled organizations, the role of unions in promoting change and alternative organizational structures.(HV 40 F 545)

Ife, J. (1997). Rethinking social work. Melbourne, Australia: Longmans. Ch. 2 and 7(NOT IN LIBRARY)

I really like this book. It develops many of Mullaly and Fook's ideas. I think that the four discourses encapsulate some of the differences in human service organizations today. It is Australian and does not discuss organizations directly but it is worth the work to apply the ideas. You will probably find the ideas are useful for other courses too. I have a copy.

Carter, P. Jeffs, T. and Smith, K. (1995).Social working. Aldershot, UK: MacMillan.(NOT IN LIBRARY)

This is a practical little book of readings. You may find Ch. 2 on teamworking, Ch 9 on supervising, Ch 10 on managing and Ch 11 on "the daily round" useful and interesting. Resource material for the third part of the course. British so must be good! I have a copy.

Netting, F.E. Kettner, P.M. and McMurty S. L. (1993). Social work macro practice. White Plains, NY: Longmans. Chapters 6 and 7.

Useful summary of a conventional approach to human service analysis. I used it as a text once and we found it to be rather dry. Nevertheless it does contain a lot of useful material. Chapter 6 summarizes a lot of organizational theory and Chapter 7 provides a framework for analyzing a particular agencies. May prompt matters to consider when you are applying for jobs. Useful for the first part of the course. US. I have a copy.(NOT IN LIBRARY)

Russo, J. R. (1993). Serving and surviving as a human-service worker. Prospect Heights, Il: Waveland

This is a good practical little book. As the title suggests this may be of benefit for the third part of the course, there may be useful ideas for other sections as well . Chapter 1 covers getting a job and settling in, Chapter 2 includes a section on "the urge to change the organization", Chapter 3 considers the organization, Chapter 4 co-workers, Chapter 6 interagency matters,Chapter 7 "helplessness and hope" considers stress and burnout as well as organizational change, Chapter 9 is "odds and ends". (HV 10.5 R 78)

Sheafor, Horejsi and Horejsi (1997). Techniques and guidelines for social work practice. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon

This is the nearest thing to a social work cook book. There are 15 sections and each is divided into a number of parts. You can find two or three pages on almost any social work issue you can think of. It is hardback and probably expensive but if you want a present which you will certainly use for the rest of the course and in practice this is probably the best you can get. As it is a "cook book" it's weak on theory. (1991 edition: HV 91 S 48)

Turner, F. J. (1999). Social work practice: A Canadian perspective. Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall

Chapters 27 (Organizational factors in social work practice), Chapter 38 (Professional Associations in Canada) and Chapter 40 (Supervision and Consultation) are most relevant. (HV 40, S. 65)

Women's self help network (1995). Working collectively. Courtney, BC: Ptarmigan Press

This little pamphlet explains what collective working is, explores it's strengths and difficulties and and then offers suggestions about how to put it into practice in an organization. (HQ 1885. W. 67).

SCWK 2023 Introduction to Social Work
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SCWK 3743 Social Work with Oppressed Groups
SCWK 4023 Field Integration Seminar

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