SW-641: Community Organizing

1-3 credit hours
Many academics and activists define community organizing in many different ways. Social workers typically are involved in macro practice in organizing activity in social service agencies, with community groups, with faith communities, with indigenous populations, and even with union memberships. This practice course will explore the major assumptions and methodologies used by social workers and activists as they seek to promote change through organizing activity. Among the major approaches that will be compared and contrasted will be (1) historical and contemporary social work, (2) Industrial Areas Foundation [IAF], (3) ACORN, (4) independent, hybrid models. SW 641 will first distinguish between community organizing and other community activities. Learners will next explore the historic models of organizing activity. In addition, learners will discover the most salient ingredients or properties of community organizing that are essential to making this activity work. Knowing what goals community organizers pursue will be another consideration and will provide an important understanding of the distinctions in the five major models explored in the course. While the literature does not usually document them, the course will also explore the barriers to community organizing so that learners can fully recognize the difficulty and validity of this important social work enterprise.