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Concentration-based Curriculum

The UConn School of Social Work is unique. Here, you have the opportunity to pursue a concentration in social work practice. You can choose an area of concentration: Community Organization, Individuals, Groups & Families, or Policy Practice. Within your chosen area of concentration, you will learn specific skills and practices as they apply in a variety of professional settings.


Click on a concentration below to learn more:

Community Organization

The Community Organization concentration is a social work method that combines direct service with advocacy, education, and social action to empower communities to work for change. Community organization is part of a process that brings people together to collectively address problems, concerns or issues with the goal of enhancing self-determination, achieving greater equality, and affecting a shift in power relationships to benefit members of oppressed communities. Using a broad repertoire of skills including conflict, community building and planning, and collaborative models, community social workers examine political, social, and economic factors as they relate to issues of power, inequality, culture, values, and problem-solving.Community Organization is based on the assumption that social problems such as poverty, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism and other social ills are primarily a function of institutionalized oppression and thus must be addressed collectively and institutionally. Consequently, the efforts of community social workers focus on helping to build community, create solidarities, and deliver services at the grassroots level to empower people working together to make their own changes, meet their own needs, and participate more fully in public life and the democratic process.

Community Organization knowledge and skills can be applied to a variety of social work sites in creative ways. The context of practice within which community social workers direct their efforts and have field placements include grassroots settings such as neighborhoods, non profit and advocacy organizations, social change coalitions, and government agencies. Students are also placed in non traditional sites such as universities, labor unions, congressional offices, and with international organizations such as the United Nations.

Individuals, Groups & Families

Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families (IGF) is the advanced practice method through which individual clients, family and group members are helped to improve the level of fit between personal and environmental strengths and limitations; empower themselves personally and politically to meet their needs, ensure their rights and entitlements; maintain, restore or enhance their social functioning; or resolve life stressors as these arise at all points in the life course.  This may be achieved through work with individuals, with groups, or with clients in families.  The family and group are viewed as a mutual support system in which the social worker’s role is to convey the belief that individuals have the potential for helping each other and to facilitate the group processes that create conditions in which mutual aid can occur.  In all of these modalities, the social worker views the person and the social and physical environments as a unitary system within cultural contexts.

Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families teaches students knowledge and skills in mobilizing, sustaining and creating personal, interpersonal, and environmental resources. In all modalities, the use of a professional relationship to nurture and release the personal potential of those being served is emphasized.  Clients are helped to understand and cope with specific life situations or stressors, to influence their physical and social environments, and to find effective forms of expression to influence large social systems.  In the group and family modalities, students also learn to help members to support each other, to develop positive interpersonal relationships, and to utilize the group experiences to affiliate with others.

IGF social workers are involved in preventive activity at practice and program levels, in both urban and rural settings, and in activity to improve access to social services and enhance their quality.  IGF social workers find career opportunities in child welfare agencies, family service agencies, schools, mental health clinics and hospitals, health care settings, youth and children’s services agencies, community and neighborhood centers, criminal justice settings, senior citizen centers and facilities, neighborhood development and citizen action programs, and other private and public settings.  Student field education experiences are within one of these settings with populations that include racial, ethnic and socioeconomically diverse people of all ages, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations, with an emphasis on marginalized populations.  We prepare students to work with diverse and oppressed populations including the poor; the elderly; women; children and youth; persons with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender orientations; refugees and migrants; and persons with physical and developmental disabilities.

IGF students are required to take a minimum of three method concentration courses, one concurrently with each of the last three semesters of field education: Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families (IGFP 5301), Advanced Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families: Theoretical Approaches (IGFP 5302), and Advanced Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families across Settings and Populations (IGFP 5303).  In addition to, and concurrent with, these method concentration courses, students are also required to take one of the following four courses: Clinical Conditions with Children and Adolescents, Clinical Conditions with Adults and Older Adults, Group Work in Clinical Settings, or Clinical Assessment and Interventions with Families.

Policy Practice

The Policy Practice Concentration prepares social workers for practice involving the formulation, adoption, implementation and evaluation of all types of social service and social welfare policies. Typical Policy Practice activities include defining social problems, assessing needs, developing and implementing programs and forecasting future problems, needs, policies and programs. Policy Practice involves designing, implementing and evaluating programs involving a range of clients and citizens, with special emphasis on oppressed individual and groups. A critical element of Policy Practice is the ability to leverage the sources, allocation and mechanisms of transfer of resources and money for social service programs. Grant writing is a special skill needed by Policy Practitioners. Another important skill is the use of research methodologies, data and information in the policy-making process.Students and graduates of the program are trained for and meet their professional responsibilities in a variety of macro practice jobs. Typical career opportunities for Policy Practice graduates are found in public and private agencies as policy analysts, evaluators, planners, program and grant developers, legislative analysts, lobbyists and advocates, and as elected officials or the staff of elected officials. Because the School of Social Work is located near the state capital there are a large number of excellent field work placements that enable students to learn and practice Policy Practice skills. Graduates of the program work in a variety of leadership and important Policy Practice positions in the state, regional, national and global contexts.