Social Work Between Systems

Applied Community Studies
Social Work
Course Code
SOWK 4100
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course will assist students to work with communities to negotiate with and mobilize people to address problems that are of common concern, overcome systemic barriers, and promote human rights and social justice. Students will apply a macro perspective to understanding the working nature of systems and community organizations, and the extent that they meet community needs. They will explore strategies and tactics that support change efforts by identifying needs and strategically supporting change implementation and evaluation. Introduction to literature on community organization and change management from a social work perspective, as well as the use of practical and theoretical case examples will allow students to develop a community support and practice framework.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  1. Social workers best serve their clients and the community when they are able to negotiate for resources and services across all formal and informal systems.
  2. Canadian social work practice began with communities and continues to support the fundamental rights of people in communities to develop and manage their environment.
  3. Competing interests and needs will always challenge coherent and planned community response and development.
  4. Social work knowledge and skills are directly applicable to working with communities and other systems.
  5. Social work practice can provide support and leadership to broad based community and social change particularly where resistance and/or conflicting views are present.
  6. The values of social work feature the inherent capacity and resiliency of individuals and their right to self-determination. This value also applies to community work.
Learning Activities

Small group discussion.


Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of assessment may include some or all of the following:

  • Written papers
  • Exams
  • Presentations (individual or group).


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: 

1. Describe how core social work skills, both analytic and process, apply to work within and between systems, community development, and problem-solving;

2. Describe how to apply principles of collaborative dialogue as a vehicle for change in a variety of community settings, including within and between formal systems;

3. Describe and apply knowledge and skills to work with resistance in organizational settings and the community, while working towards consensus;

4. Analyze the historical impact of Canadian social work practice in community support, organization and change;

5. Apply a variety of social work community practice models to case examples;

6. Apply knowledge and skills related to community practice, including the following practical tools:

  • strategies to conduct a community needs assessment/analysis,
  • identification of options for community mobilization and empowerment,
  • an understanding of the principle of individual and systemic advocacy;

7. Demonstrate an ability to identify the strengths and limitations of alternative approaches to community social work practice, and advocacy and negotiation between systems.

Textbook Materials

Texts and papers such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:
Brown, J., & Hannis, J. (2011). Community development in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pearson.
Fauri, D., Wernet, S., & Netting, F. (Eds). (2004). Cases in macro social work practice. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Wilks, T. (2012). Advocacy and social work practice. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.



Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOWK 4100
Simon Fraser University (SFU) No credit

Course Offerings

Summer 2023