Course Syllabus - 910:342: Contemporary Social Welfare Policies


910:342:Q2 SPRING 2015

Department of Social Work     Rutgers University - Newark


Instructor: Michael Eversman, MSW, Ph.D.                        Email: m.eversman   

Office Hours: By Appointment – Hill Hall Rm. 418 Department #: 973/353-1144

Class Location: Conklin Hall, Rm. 352                     Class Times: Mon/Wed., 6:00-7:20


Course Description:

This course focuses on the development of the social work profession from the 1930s through the present, and offers a portrait and analysis of modern U.S. social welfare programs and policies.  The course provides a framework on how to identify and analyze social problems and social policies, as well as how to examine and evaluate the impact of, and conflict between, societal and professional social work values, social policies, and programs on vulnerable populations (i.e., children, the elderly, immigrants, minorities, women, and people in poverty).


In addition, the course will investigate the economic, social, and cultural factors that have induced changes.  This includes political trends, the roles of social workers and the social work profession in the development and change of policies, programs, and their applications to social problems.  Some alternative responses to national social needs and issues will be examined, including examples from other societies.  Finally, possible directions for future social policy and program development will be explored.



The course is open to any student, but is required for social work majors.  Successful completion of a writing course or competency exam is required.  All students must have taken and passed English 101 and 102.



As designated by the Rutgers-Newark Writing across the Curriculum Committee, this course has been selected as a “writing intensive course.”  Therefore, students should be cognizant of the writing expectations for the course: substantial writing, multiple writing assignments, revisions of work, and receipt of critical feedback.  These criteria are designed to improve students’ writing and their ability to convey their thoughts in a clear, coherent manner.



This course is designed for the student to gain further knowledge and competence in the following core social work competencies:


·         Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (C1)

·         Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication (C1.3)

·         Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice (C2)

·         Apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping

life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels (C2.1)

·         Apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies (C2.3)

·         Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice (C3)

·         Apply their understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels (C3.1)

·         Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice (C5)

·         Identify social policy at the local, state, and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery, and access to social services (C5.1)

·         Assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services (C5.2)

·         Apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice (C5.3)

·         Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities (C6)

·         Use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage diverse clients and constituencies (C6.2)


Required tEXTBOOKs:

Karger, H.J., & Stoesz, D. American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach, Brief Edition. Pearson.



Additional materials (slides, handouts, and website/magazine articles) may be added as we progress.



Attendance and participation are important aspects of the course.  The assignments are based on the readings and your interpretation of the material; participation in class discussion allows for a deeper understanding of the topics.  Therefore, attendance and participation are required.  It is understandable students might be absent from class; however, five or more absences will adversely affect your final grade.  Please speak to me if you have a personal emergency that hinders class attendance.  Attendance will be taken each class and it is your responsibility for signing in. Consistent lateness hinders learning, is disruptive to fellow students, and will adversely affect your final grade. Complete readings and assignments prior to each class session and participate actively and thoughtfully in the discussion of the designated content. Class participation will be considered as part of your final grade (see below).



In today’s technologically oriented society, students are connected to their cell phones more than ever; however, texting, checking social media accounts, etc. is NOT allowed in class. PLEASE SEE ME REGARDING LAPTOP POLICY.  Unless you anticipate an important communication of some sort (and speak to me prior to start of class) please mute and put away all communication devices during class. So that everyone is on the same page and there are no misunderstandings, the following is implemented: (i) A warning will be issued for the first infraction, and (ii) Points will be deducted from your final course grade for every subsequent occurrence. Lastly, no taking pictures in class without permission.


RESPECT for one another regardless of whether you agree or believe in your classmates’ stated opinions is the accepted and expected rule of the day.



This course utilizes Blackboard and in order to access Blackboard you must have an active university computer account on Pegasus.  Once registered on Blackboard you may change from your Pegasus account to the email address you use regularly but continue to check Blackboard daily for course announcements and syllabus updates.



As stated in the Manual for Students and Coordinators of Services for Students with Disabilities (, Rutgers University “is committed to providing equal education opportunity for persons with disabilities in accordance with the Nondiscrimination Policy of the University and in compliance with § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.”  For students with disabilities, review the manual and contact Genevieve Sumski, the Student Disability Coordinator, or her assistant, Jason Khurdan at 973/353-5300.  Both Genevieve and Jason are located in room #352 in the Robeson Campus Center.



If you experience psychological or other difficulties as a result of this course, or because of other issues that may interfere with your performance in the course, please contact the university’s psychological and counseling service center (; 973/353-5805), which is located in Blumenthal Hall, room #101.  The center offers a variety of free, confidential services to part-time and full-time students who are enrolled at Rutgers.



Students are expected to adhere to the University’s Policy on Academic Honesty, (See University Student Handbook and SW Student Handbook).  Please pay special attention and follow proper protocol with regard to citations and documentation of reports.  Plagiarism/cheating are issues taken very seriously by the Department for academic and professional reasons.  If not resolved within the Department, will be reported to the Dean of Student Affairs Office and may be grounds for dismissal from the major and/or the college.  Please review and familiarize yourself with the SW Student Handbook on Rutgers University Newark SW website; (link at top of page).  Student is responsible for knowing the information therein, including student’s rights, grievance process and dismissal from the program procedures.





Quizzes (40%): There will be five quizzes worth up to 10 points each; the highest four of these will count toward your final grade and the lowest discarded. Quizzes will be on the assigned dates and will cover ALL readings and content as indicated. The format will be written answers (1-2 sentences). Quizzes will be given at the start of class and will last 25 minutes. (WE WILL HAVE CLASS AFTER). Only 1 missed quiz can be made up in a timely manner determined in consultation with the instructor..!!  Assignment meets Core Competencies 5.1, 5.2, 5.3

Guidelines for all quizzes:

-          Writing must follow rules of Standard English grammar (spelling, punctuation, etc.).

-          Written answers must contain a minimum of one complete sentence.

-          Any factual error takes away from otherwise factual validity.

-          You may write only within the space/lines provided.

DUE: See dates on syllabus


**Please note the Worksheets and Final paper must be submitted via Blackboard (using the “Assignments” button) in addition to an in-class hardcopy. I will NOT accept these assignments unless submitted in this manner.**


Policy Research Paper Worksheets (12%): To help students organize and prepare their final paper, four (4) worksheets (up to 3 pts. each) are to be submitted by the designated due dates. Worksheets will be made available on Blackboard. Submissions (BB and hardcopy) are due start of class on the dates listed on the syllabus. YOU MUST USE YOUR OWN WORDS NOT THOSE OF OTHERS. Submissions not received by the due date will be graded 0% unless discussed prior with the instructor. Assignments meet Core Competencies 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.2

DUE: See dates on syllabus


Final Paper (18%): The papers will be structured by the completed worksheets and should incorporate the feedback given to you by the instructor on the worksheets. The paper MUST read as a narrative summary NOT a reiteration of information on the worksheets. The final paper will show your understanding and integration of the policy area of interest. USE YOUR OWN WORDS AND CLEARLY CITE THE WORDS OF OTHERS. Final page length will vary but must include all questions reflected in all worksheets. More details will be provided by the instructor. Assignment meets Core Competencies 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 6.2

DUE: See dates on syllabus


Policy Paper Presentation (10%): Each student will give a 10 minute one on one presentation on their Policy research papers. No Powerpoint slides. Students can use their notes for reference but as you’ll be working on this assignment all semester, you should be able to discuss it with limited notes. Students need to demonstrate they are knowledgeable in an area of social welfare policy relevant to a social problem of interest. Be prepared to answer questions. Assignment meets Core Competencies 1.3, 2.1, 2.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3

DUE: Students will sign up (via Blackboard) for presentation dates and timeslots. I’ll announce in-class when sign-up is to be made available.


Cumulative Final Exam (10%): The final includes ALL material covered throughout the semester (unless otherwise indicated). It will consist of 20 multiple choice questions and will last 30 minutes. 

DUE: See University Final Exam Schedule. Assignment meets Core Competencies 5.1, 5.2, 5.3   


Class Participation (10%): Student participation is key to a lively class.  As noted above, 10% of your final course grade is based on contributions to our class sessions.  Class participation provides the opportunity to practice speaking and persuasive skills, as well as the ability to listen.  The quality of your comments to class discussion is most important, not necessarily how often or how long. Assignment meets Core Competency 1.3

Outstanding Contributor (8-10 points): Contributions in class reflect thorough preparation.  Ideas offered are substantive and provide one or more major insights as well as direction for the class. Challenges are well substantiated and persuasively presented.  The individual is never/almost never absent or late to class, or leaves class early.   


Good/Adequate Contributor (4-7 points):  Contributions in class reflect satisfactory preparation. Ideas offered are sometimes substantive, provide generally useful insights but seldom offer a new direction for the discussion. Challenges are sometimes presented, fairly well substantiated, and are sometimes persuasive. Individual has minimal absences, lateness or early class departures.

Unsatisfactory Participant (1-3 points):  Student says little in class and their contributions

reflect inadequate preparation. Comments offered are seldom substantive and provide few, if any, insights; no constructive direction for class discussion. Also result from excess absence/lateness. 



Quizzes                                                40 pts. (Four of five highest quiz grades, 10 pts. each)

Policy Paper Worksheets                     12 pts. (Four worksheets, 3 pts. each)

Final Paper                                           18 pts.

Presentation:                                        10 pts.

Final Exam (Cumulative)                     10 pts.

Class Participation:                              10 pts.______________________________________

Total                                                   100 points


** Extra Credit: Up to 5 points can be earned. Details TBA.



93–100 = A, 85 –92 = B+, 80–84 = B, 75-79 = C+, 70–74 = C, 65-69 = D, 64 and below = F


Plan to complete all work by the scheduled end of the semester.  Temporary (“T”) grades will only be considered under extreme circumstances and with the Instructor’s prior agreement.  Discussion with the Instructor regarding any concerns related to the course and/or difficulties the student may be having is encouraged.