Human Behavior

  • SSW HB 720: Human Behavior in the Social Environment
    Graduate Prerequisites: Required of all students. Permission of SSW registrar for non-SSW students.
    This course constitutes the foundation course in the Human Behavior Department and is a prerequsite for all other courses in the HBSE sequence. The goal of the course is to enable students to develop a framework for analyzing human behavior in order to create empathic, empowering relationships with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. A select set of theories is presented to enable students to examine how individuals and communities develop and interact. We also consider how oppression, power and privilege, and culture and cultural contexts can shape individual values, beliefs, worldviews, and identities, all of which play a role in the helping process. Finally, we examine human development throughout the lifespan, considering the developmental scientific knowledge base regarding opportunities and vulnerabilities present during the different stages of the lifecycle, and the biopsychosocial and cultural factors that can influence individual development. The ability to analyze human behavior in the social environment, drawing from theoretically and empirically grounded evidence bases is essential for all forms of social work practice.
  • SSW HB 723: Adult Psychopathology
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720 or permission of department chair.
    The goal of this course is to provide students with a framework for understanding human behavior when challenges to healthy adult functioning overwhelm coping mechanisms and resources. A biopsychosocial model of psychopathology is emphasized as we study some of the disorders classified in the DSM-5, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, PTSD, dissociative disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse/addictions. Complex factors in the etiology of various disorders are considered, including genetic, neurochemical, biological, developmental, familial, sociocultural, and political variables that affect the occurrence, presentation, course, and treatment of a problem. While learning the perspective and language of the phenomenological approach outlined in the DSM-5, we also highlight weaknesses and blind spots in the traditional approach to diagnoses. In particular, we explore the impact of oppression and bias on the naming and treatment of mental disorders, including the influences of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, religion, and ethnicity on the diagnostic process. Students learn to consider the DSM-5 classification system as a social construction that reveals as much about the society and its views of human behavior as it does about the clients with whom social workers have contact. While this course is not designed to focus on treatment, students have the opportunity to consider how diagnoses inform treatment and review current research on both biological and psychosocial treatments for different disorders. Finally, we seek to enhance empathic understanding of our clients experiences and the experiences of their families and loved ones, remembering that people are not their diagnoses, that what is labeled individual pathology may be an adaptive response to oppressive external circumstances, and that people who experience a breakdown in functioning demonstrate not only difficulties but also compelling strengths. This course employs lecture, large and small group discussion, case presentations, and videotapes. Clinical vignettes from instructors and class are used to illustrate mental disorders and theoretical perspectives, and make material relevant to clinical practice, particularly with urban populations
  • SSW HB 727: Child Psychopathology
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720; Or permission of department chair.
    Grad Prereq: SSW HB 720 or permission of department chair. *This course uses a developmental psychopathological model to explore complex psychological disturbances in children, adolescents, and families with a focus on the urban family experience. It addresses multiple research and theoretical perspectives that promote a way of understanding ?normal? and ?pathological? child and adolescent behaviors that change over time in the context of their genetic make-up, biological processes, interpersonal relationships, culture, and available community resources and support. In this course, developmental, systemic, psychodynamic, neurobiological and behavioral theoretical perspectives inform students? understanding of children and adolescents? adaptive and maladaptive patterns of behavior, which evolve over time in the context of their complex developmental histories and socio-cultural relational experiences. The course promotes the importance of assessing in children and families both the historical and present risks for disturbed behavioral development and the historical and present protective factors that promote healthy and resilient behavioral development. Implied throughout the course curriculum is the perspective that a deep understanding of children?s adaptations to stress and trauma is central in the social worker?s role of making informed and accurate assessments and diagnostic evaluations of children, adolescents, and families. Discussion of clinical case material and relevant research assists students in learning to assess children and adolescents? current, unique developmental needs and strengths with a goal of empowering them to find pathways of behavior that better meet these developmental needs and give freedom to the deepening of these strengths. 3 cr.
  • SSW HB 735: Racial Justice and Cultural Oppression
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720 or permission of department chair. Required of all students.
    This course examines the social psychological, and institutional causes and implications of racism as a dynamic force influencing social work. The course builds on and integrates concepts presented in foundation courses. It analyzes and evaluates the social, cultural, political, economic, and interpersonal contexts of racism that bear on our current policies and institutional arrangements. The course is designed to familiarize students with 1) theoretical overviews of race and racism; 2)historical accounts and contemporary experiences of racism; 3) the formation of racial identity; 4) multicultural contexts and fundamentals of cultural competency; and 5) effective social change efforts based on organizational analysis.
  • SSW HB 743: Social Work with Refugees and Immigrants
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720; Or permission of department chair.
    Social workers and other mental health and social service practitioners find themselves increasingly called upon to work with refugees and immigrants from around the world. Social workers are also becoming sought after by international development agencies and non-governmental organizations. In this course we gain an understanding of the refugee and immigrant experience and of the continuum of the acculturation process. We examine the potential problems facing these individuals and families as they seek to rebuild their lives; we learn to recognize and utilize their strengths, cultural resources and natural support systems; and we increase our cultural competence by learning skills for culturally appropriate relationship-building, clinical assessment, and intervention.
  • SSW HB 744: Spirituality and Social Work Practice
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720; Or permission of department chair.
    The goal of this course is to acquaint the student with current theories regarding religion and spirituality and their role in clinical work. Particular attention is given to the function of spirituality and religion in bridging internal and external adaptations throughout the life cycle. Utilizing psychodynamic and narrative frameworks, this course addresses ways of assessing and working with an individual?s spiritual and existential belief systems and attending to the ways in which spiritual beliefs and practices provide a window into a client?s inner world. In addition, the course addresses issues of transference and countertransference as they arise in the exploration of religious and spiritual material in psychotherapy. The course draws heavily on case material, film, and fiction.
  • SSW HB 746: Resilience Across the Lifespan
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720; Or permission by department chair
    Humans have an amazing capacity to adapt well to adversity?a phenomenon known as resilience. This course uses a resilience framework to explore development across the lifespan, with implications for social work practice. The approach presumes that resilience results from dynamic interactions between individuals and their environments, and that every person has the potential to overcome significant challenge at any point in the life course. The construct of resilience has become well-used in social science fields, perhaps as a reaction to deficit models of development, or as part of a renewed focus on human strengths. As a result, greater attention is paid to those who do well ?despite the odds,? and on the environmental contexts that support these adaptations. The course examines conceptual, empirical, and applied work on resilience, including new and sometimes controversial applications of resilience theory to social work practice with individuals, families, and communities.
  • SSW HB 749: Social Perspectives on Health and Illness
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720; Or permission by department chair.
    This course is designed to orient students toward major contemporary health issues and to foster an understanding of the way that social, environmental, and cultural contexts can contribute to either health or illness. The course is premised on the notion that understanding how context influences these outcomes is of direct importance to social work practice in a variety of domains. The course is organized into three modules. The first introduces students to important historical, theoretical, and current perspectives on health and illness and provides the groundwork for the rest of the course. The second module focuses on health and illness using the social ecology of health model. The last module focuses on emergent issues in health and illness, integrating the knowledge from the first two modules in order to demonstrate to students the multitude of ways in which social contexts can jointly promote health-related outcomes.
  • SSW HB 750: Organizational Behavior and Culture
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720.
    This course familiarizes the student with basic concepts related to organizational behavior and culture in human service organizations. The primary focus is on how human service organizations function, with a particular focus on the influence of internal and external factors, and methods for achieving change within these settings.
  • SSW HB 751: Human Neuropsychology
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720.
    Students develop foundational knowledge in the structure and function of the nervous system with special emphasis on processes underlying common neuropsychological disorders. The course is designed to make basic neuroscience accessible and interesting for students with a minimum of basic science background.We cover basic neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry and nervous system development in the context of neuropsychological disorders to provide a clinical context for material that might otherwise seem overwhelming.
  • SSW HB 752: Exploring Ethnicity, Race, and Culture through Narratives: Clinical and Human Behavior Perspectives
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB 720 and SSW CP 759.
    A major purpose of this course is to deepen students' knowledge of the role of culture in lifespan development and human behavior. Building on knowledge and skills from the foundation courses Human Behavior, HB 720 and Clinical Practice, CP 759, that apply ecological and systems frameworks to themes of identity formation, risks and resiliency, loss and death. In addition, through narrative stories themes such as dual cultural identity, oppression and diaspora are explored, and students will leave the class able to (1) identify various expressions of cultural identity, (2) articulate the strengths of cultural affiliation, (3) distinguish between behaviors that represent psychopathology and behaviors that are expressions of cultural values and/or traditions, and (4) describe the distinct experiences of individuals living in the context of diaspora; (5) determine the role of systemic oppression on individuals whose experiences are not part of dominant cultural perspectives in the United States, and (6) recognize the value of cross-cultural theoretical and research literature that describes how to approach work with groups discussed in the narratives presented in the course.
  • SSW HB 755: Ferguson is Everywhere: Lessons for Racial Justice
    The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement offers an opportunity for political and moral inquiry about social justice, democracy and social welfare in the 21st century. The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to engage in this inquiry and explore its implications for racial justice practice. Learning experiences will include analysis and discussion of primary and secondary sources written and electronic sources, small and large group activities, multimedia presentations and an out-of-class activity.
  • SSW HB 756: Theories And Issues In Aging
    Graduate Prerequisites: HB 720
    This course examines a broad range of theories and contemporary issues in aging that relate to social work practice with older adults and their families. Domains of inquiry include biological, psychological, and sociological perspectives of aging and older adults. There is a critical examination of the social constructions of old age, social work values and ethics, and social work practice within an aging society at the individual, community, and institutional level. Specific consideration is given to heterogeneity of the older adult and aging population in the areas of age, gender, race and ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religious, physical or mental disability, and national origin. Additionally, the diversity of experiences, activities, roles, and responsibilities of older adults are evaluated as they related to aging theories and issues such as productive aging, intergenerational relationships, and cultural norms. Social and economic justice, evidence-based practice, and capacity building are highlighted throughout the course. Students will participate in community/applied learning projects as an integral part of this course. Professional communication skills will be practiced. Throughout the course, we will discuss how to apply the tenants of evidence-based practice to the theories and issues that impact aging.