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International Social Work

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

Last Updated July 2020

Course history:

The course has a long history of design and delivery. The first version of the course I developed in 2005 when I co-taught my first course at the University of Manitoba on international and local community social work practice. Then some elements of the course became a critical component of FMLY 1012 Introduction to Social Development and FMLY 2012 Conflict Development and Displacement at the Family Social Sciences Department at the University of Manitoba and SOCW 2130 Comparative Social Welfare. Later I had an opportunity to teach the course at the Dalhousie University both on undergraduate and graduate levels SLWK 3120 and SLWK 5120 International Social Work. I also once delivered the course at TRU SOCW 4800 International Social Work. The course is ready for summer delivery, full time hy-flex delivery. I also taught this course Mizhnarodna Sotsialna Robota at Bohdan Khmelnytskyj National University in Cherkasy Ukraine which mean this is one of the few courses I have design in both Ukrainian and English and delivered in two countries. If anyone interested to collaborate on next version of the course please feel free to contact me.

Course designer:

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov, PhD, RSW

Course description:

Students are introduced to the field of international social work. Current global social welfare issues and challenges are critically explored and discussed, including global Indigenous issues and development approaches of different countries. Students complete an in-depth examination of the economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions of globalization. Implications for international social work and its social justice and anti-oppressive mandate are analyzed by addressing complex global issues such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid, human trafficking, and forced migration of people. The impact of political, social, economic, cultural, religious, and environmental influences on human rights, social and economic justice, social policies, and service delivery are explored. The role of social work in facilitating international social development is examined in local and global contexts. 

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the various “worlds” of social work practice throughout the globe. Students are provided with theoretical and practice grounding regarding development issues and social welfare systems within a global context. As a class, we will explore numerous case analyses of social work around the world – highlighting similar and distinct approaches to carrying out our profession. It is hoped that students develop an appreciation of the many roles and responsibilities attached to social workers within the international arena, as well as the numerous contexts in which social workers practice. The course will encourage the development of a critical and reflective stance towards the ways social work is done in a global world and foster a sense of interconnection between what is domestic and what is international.

Educational Objectives/Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:

  • Understand the major current influences on social work in what has been categorized as “developed” and “developing” nations, as well as exploring such categorizations.
  • Explore issues of world poverty, social justice, and possibilities/responsibilities for action
  • Foster a ‘state of the planet’ consciousness, cross-cultural awareness and knowledge of global dynamics
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically analyze the various methods of international development and the roles played out by social workers.
  • Explore some of the ethical considerations of social work at the international level
  • Incorporate fundamental concerns for social justice by breaking away from the narrow definition of social work
  • Describe the international dimensions of social work and the connections between the local and global.
  • Identify the contemporary international issues and their implications for social work, and of competing perspectives on globalization.
  • Describe and incorporate theoretical perspectives of race, space, nation and citizenship into the current discourse of international social work.
  • Describe and analyze the global Indigenous perspectives and the functions and contributions of social work in various regions of the world.
  • Describe and analyze the complex value and ethical dilemmas inherent in national and international social work practice.

Course Materials

  • Cox, D., & Pawar, M. (2012). International social work: Issues, strategies and programs. London: Sage Publications (Chapter 2)
  • Gray, M. (2005). Dilemmas of international social work: Paradoxical processes in indigenisation, universalism and imperialism. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14(3), 231-238.
  • Healy, L. M. (2008). International social work: Professional action in an interdependent world. Oxford University Press (Chapter 9)
  • Heron, B. (2007). Desire for development: Whiteness, gender, and the helping imperative. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press.     (Chapter 2)             
  • Ives, N., Denov, M., & Sussman, T. (2015). Introduction to social work in Canada: Histories, contexts, and practices. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. (Chapter 13)     
  • Mapp, S. C. (2014). Human rights and social justice in a global perspective: An introduction to international social work. Oxford University Press. (Appendix A)
  • Mapp, S., & Gatenio Gabel, S. (2019). Educating students on international social work issues in US social work programs: How is it done?. Journal of Social Work Education55(2), 238-250.                                    
  • Pashang, S., & Gruner, S. (2015). Roots and routes of displacement and trauma: From analysis to advocacy and policy to practice. Rock’s Mills Press. (Chapter 1)     

Student Evaluation & Assessment

Memoir and Organization Portfolio Part 110 %
Class Project Part 120 %
 Memoir and Organization Portfolio Part 230 %
Class Project Part 240 %

Course Schedule

ModuleTopic(s) ReadingsAssignments / Remarks
Unit 1: International Social Work: Course DesignMapp and Gabel (2019); Gray (2005) 
Unit 2: International Social Work: Glocal Social IssuesIves, Denov and Sussman (2015) Chapter 13Memoir and Organization Portfolio Part 1 is Due
Unit 3Displacement and International Social Work: Critical and Decolonizing ApproachesPashang and Gruner (2015) Chapter 1Class Project Part 1 is Due (20%)
Unit 4Critical Reflection in International Social WorkHeron (2007) Chapter 2 
Unit 5Ethics and Values for International Professional ActionHealy (2008) Chapter 9 
Unit 6 International Profession: Organizations and Institutions Involved in International Social WorkMapp (2014) Appendix AMemoir and Organization Portfolio Part 2 is Due (30%)
Unit 7The Integrated-Perspectives Approach to International Social WorkCox and Pawar (2013) Chapter 2Class Project Part 2 is Due  (40%)

Course Notes and Files

To be Posted

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