Human Behavior

  • SSW HB 720: Human Behavior in the Social Environment
    Graduate Corequisites: Graduate Corequisites: HB 735; Or permission of department chair. Required of all students.
    Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) is designed to help you chart a knowledgeable course through the complexity of human experience. We will explore a select set of theories that help us understand how individuals and communities develop and interact. Because empathic and skillful interventions with individuals, groups, and communities require understanding ourselves as well as others, the course provides an opportunity for increased self-awareness. At the beginning of the course, we focus on the key theories that help us understand the dimensions and expression of human behavior in the social environment. This discussion is followed by an examination of how dimensions of culture and cultural contexts can shape individuals values, beliefs, worldviews, and identities, all of which play a role in the helping process. Through discussion and analysis, we will explore areas of universality and difference in the context of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, and socioeconomic class, as well as the realities and influence of multiple forms of oppression. Finally, we will examine human development throughout the lifespan, considering the developmental scientific knowledge base regarding opportunities and vulnerabilities during the different stages of the lifecycle, and the biopsychosocial and cultural factors that can influence individual development. HB 720 constitutes the foundation course in the human behavior department and is the underpinning of all courses in the HBSE sequence. The ability to analyze human behavior in the social environment, drawing from theoretically and empirically-grounded evidence bases, is essential for social work practice, whether the primary focus is clinical or macro. Social work has a distinct perspective that emphasizes the interconnection between individuals and their environments. The framework draws from other disciplines, including anthropology, economics, psychology, biology, and sociology. The course will provide an understanding of the interactions among biological, social, and psychological, and cultural systems. Forces that facilitate optimal growth and development will be contrasted with forces that impede development. The course will build on your undergraduate knowledge of basic human behavior theories, adding theoretical breadth, critical contextualization, and professional application.
  • SSW HB 723: Assessment and Differential Diagnosis with Adults
    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.
  • SSW HB 727: Assessment and Differential Diagnosis with Children
    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.
  • SSW HB 735: Racial Justice and Cultural Oppression
    Graduate Corequisites: Graduate Corequisites: HB 720; Or permission of department chair. Required of all students
    This course examines the causes and implications of racism as a dynamic force influencing social work, and the Intersectionality of racism with other forms of oppression. 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 racism and oppression; 2) historical accounts and contemporary experiences of racism, 3) the formation of complex 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 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 756: The Aging Experience: Theoretical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues
    Graduate Prerequisites: HB 720
    We are living longer. Population aging is one of the most important determinants of global health. Yet, there is tremendous variation in how we experience aging in the U.S. and across the globe. To examine the contemporary contours of aging and health, this course draws on theories and perspectives from sociology, demography, social work, and public health and probes: How do we think about aging? What does it mean when we talk about promoting "healthy aging?" and How is the aging experience shaped by the current social, economic, and political climate? Specific consideration is given to heterogeneity of the U.S. population in the areas of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, social class, sexual orientation and identity, religion, and disability. We will look at the factors contributing to the different opportunities and challenges experienced by some persons and populations as they age.
  • SSW HB 758: Black Lives Matter: Lessons for Antiracism
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW HB720
    The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement offers lessons for 21st century antiracism. The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to acquire this learning. This will include analysis and discussion of primary and secondary written and electronic sources, small and large group activities, multimedia presentations and out-of-class activities.