Students in Meredith’s Introduction to Macro Social Work (SWK 398) course recently completed projects that will benefit communities in the Raleigh area.
The Macro Social Work course, which is required for social work majors at Meredith, focuses on the strengths, capacities and resources of client systems in relation to their broader environment.
The course prepares students to engage organizations and communities in an appropriate working relationship; identify issues, problems, needs, resources and assets; collect and assess information; and plan for service delivery. It also includes identifying, analyzing and implementing empirically based interventions designed to achieve client goals and promote social and economic justice.
Instructor Kareema Whitfield said the course “looks at ways to use systems theory to implement social work solutions.”
Whitfield asked student teams in the class to work with four local communities to complete a community assets/strengths project for this course. Communities could be communities of place or geography, such as a neighborhood, or communities of interests, such as a religious group.
Students worked with Raleigh’s Chavis Heights neighborhood, with the North Raleigh neighborhood surrounding Mini City, with the Islamic Association of Raleigh, and with PFLAG Triangle, an advocacy group for parents and friends of lesbian and gays.
Based on the identified strengths, the students created brochures, presentations or other projects that the community group can use as a resource. These projects “focus on showing assets within these communities that others may be unaware of, rather than focusing on negatives or challenges,” Whitfield said.
For example, the group that worked with the Chavis Heights neighborhood created a brochure detailing the history of the neighborhood and resources available there. The brochure will be used in the community center.
Macro social work has important implications on shaping policies, organizations and communities which can ultimately have a wide-ranging impact locally and internationally.
“One policy change or organizational change could ultimately impact hundreds or thousands of people,” Whitfield said. “There is a correlation between how individuals feel about their community and their self-esteem.”
Working directly with local communities in the Raleigh area was also beneficial to Whitfield’s students.
“They found out about great things going on in the community that they wouldn’t have known about with the project,” Whitfield said. “Putting what they learned into practice is a great way for them to realize how all these systems come together.”
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