Valparaiso University Social Work Department, a liberal arts based professional undergraduate social work program within the context of a church-related institution of higher education, prepares generalist social work practitioners for service in the world. Valparaiso University’s mission as a community of learning dedicated to excellence and grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith, prepares students to lead and serve in both church and society (VU Mission). Our Social Work Department mission grows out of this university mission in that we provide a rigorous and stimulating educational environment characterized by a dynamic interchange between faculty and students that promotes critical thinking, conscious use of self, and active engagement in the learning process. Our vision is to foster the creation of coherent and integrated educational learning experiences that utilize an active learner model, valuing different ways of knowing, aimed at preparing students for generalist social work practice that will: address the whole person in the context of their environment be informed by an ecological/systems and strengths perspective be actively involved in advocacy, empowerment, and social change serve vulnerable and oppressed people implement culturally sensitive practice strategies contribute meaningfully to society by valuing service, social and economic justice, the dignity and worth of each person, importance of human relationships, and integrity and competence in all areas of generalist practice.
The curriculum is designed and organized around one primary goal, namely to educate and prepare students for ethical, effective, and culturally competent generalist social work practice for service in the world.
Program Core Competencies
Program Core Competencies, adopted from CSWE foundational competencies, are covered in courses central to the foundation curriculum (CSWE, EPAS, 2008). These ten core competencies guide faculty as they prepare students to engage in the necessary knowledge, values, and skill development for ethical, effective and culturally competent entry-level generalist practice.
1. Professional Identity: Students will identify as professional social workers and conduct oneself accordingly.
2. Ethical Practice: Students will apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
3. Critical Thinking: Students will apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
4. Diversity in Practice: Students will engage diversity and difference in practice.
5. Human Rights & Justice: Students will advance human rights and social and economic justice.
6. Research Based Practice: Students will engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
7. Human Behavior: Students will apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
8. Policy Practice: Students will engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
9. Practice Contexts: Students will respond to contexts that shape practice.
10. Engage, Assess, Intervene, Evaluate: Students will engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.