Preparation for generalist practice is the primary organizing theme of the BSW Curriculum. All courses in each sequence area directly contribute to the generalist perspective and skills for planned change and problem solving. The generalist social work model educates students for practice in a metropolitan environment. It is practice oriented and strives to instill specific values and skills within th estudent drawing upon knowledge and perspectives gained in the liberal arts and social work courses. The generalist model serves as a template for the type of generalist practitioner we seek to graduate. There are nine primary characteristics of the generalist model which, together, form the definition of generalist practice that will be described later in this section. These characteristics consist of attitudinal, knowledge, and skill attributes. The generalist model is linked to the ability to work at multiple levels of practice, with diverse populations, using varied practice roles and change processes that are directed toward problem solving and enhanced social functioning.
The development of professional identity is particularly relevant to a metropolitan setting where there is convergence of many professional disciplines and roles. Generalist practitioners must have a strong sense of professional identity in a fluid agency and service environment. The development of professional identity is one of the overriding themes of the BSW program. As a generalist, a social worker must be able to view a problem from multiple perspectives, but must understand the problem from the perspective of a skilled and knowledgeable professional. Every course in the curriculum addresses some aspect of professional identity and use of self, in direct and indirect roles, in exercises that raise self-awareness, or in content that illuminates the history and stance of the profession.
Content in all sequence areas explores the application of social work values and ethics to a generalist model of practice. Through role plays, readings, discussions, policy analysis, and practicum experience students engage in the application of the Code of Ethics to direct and indirect services. In terms of the generalist model, social work generalist practitioners must demonstrate respect for the individual and for the client self-determination, and must be committed to ethical and empowering practice and social justice.
The second integrative theme of the curriculum is human diversity in the context of generalist practice in a metropolitan environment. The curriculum includes content on all aspects of diversity noted in the Code of Ethics and accreditation standards (age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation). However, because of our metropolitan setting, a strong emphasis is placed on content related to communities of color, women, and gays and lesbians. Content on age, disability, national origin, and religion are found in each sequence but not necessarily in all courses. The theme of diversity is tied to the generalist model through that model's emphasis on understanding all aspects of the client's situation and environment. The theme of diversity finds expression in several related aspects:
- Self awareness of personal belief and biases,
- Understanding and respect for diversity including similarities and differences,
- Knowledge of institutionalized oppression,
- The ability to engage clients in an empowering helping process that involves both individual and social change,
- Application of generalist knowledge and skills to work with diverse populations.