Bachelor of Social Work Program

Our BSW program is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Our undergraduate program has been in existence since 1974. Since then we have grown to include almost 200 majors studying to become the social workers of the future.

Mission of the BSW Program

Social Work is much more than an academic major. For many social workers it is a way of life which embraces a concern and caring for others demonstrated through practice based on values, skills, and knowledge which define Social Work. It is not the most highly paid profession nor the most glamorous, but it is one in which each day brings new challenges and opportunities to make the world a better place.

The mission of the Shippensburg University BSW program is to provide comprehensive preparation for competent entry level social work practice and/or graduate study. This program includes (1) a curriculum grounded in the generalist approach; (2) a special emphasis on the respect for diversity and human rights; and (3) involvement and leadership in the practice community from the local to the global.

In order to fully understand the mission and implement it through goals, it is necessary to operationalize some of the terms. We use the term generalist approach instead of such terms as generalist, as a noun, or generalist perspective. This is in keeping with our programmatic and professional view of the concept. Each social work program, and indeed, each social worker, defines generalist in a manner unique to themselves but containing common threads that the profession associates with generalist. As the Social Work Encyclopedia states there is no one agreed upon definition of generalist in the social work profession. Rather there are elements of generalist practice or approach that pertain across a variety of situations and definitions.

Our definition draws on the extensive experience our faculty has in being practitioners as well as educators who use the generalist approach. We utilize not only the person-in- environment/systems perspective to know/view a situation but also put emphasis on the selection of the appropriate practice method and level of intervention as key components of this approach to practice. So, as the definition states, it is not only the "knowing" or the "doing" but the combination of the two that make this an approach to the practice of social work.

Flowing from the mission statement are the goals of our program. We have separated our goals into two broad categories that reflect both the education focus and the overall programmatic intent of our department. We see ourselves as educators and Social Work practitioners who work to achieve the purpose of educating future professionals and furthering the broad purposes of the Social Work profession. Our goals reflect this dual approach which is consistent with our belief that educators act as professional role models to students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Goals

  1. To prepare students to use the generalist approach to become competent entry-level Social Work practitioners and/or to prepare students for graduate study in Social Work
  2. To provide leadership about diversity and human rights issues to the University and the region in order to work towards greater inclusion and social justice.
  3. To collaborate with the practice community for mutual professional growth and development, with an emphasis on regional partnerships.

Definition of Generalist Approach

A generalist social worker uses critical thinking and self-awareness to draw on the profession's knowledge, core values and skills to engage in ethical practice. Practice activities include assessment, prevention and intervention with client systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities) across diverse populations. These activities are informed by research and focus on client strengths. Generalist social work is grounded in a liberal arts foundation and guided by a systems approach that emphasizes person-in-environment; professional social work values; empowerment; and commitment to social and economic justice and human rights.