Approved by University Studies Sub-Committee. 

Approved by Faculty Senate 10/21/02



University Studies Course Approval


Department or Program: Sociology Dept./Social Work Program

Course Number: SOCW 410 Number of Credits: 3 s.h.

Course Title: Analysis of Social Welfare Policy

Catalog Description: The focus of this course is the ideology and content of social welfare policy, the process by which it is developed, its implications for social work practitioners at all levels and methods of affecting change. Prerequisite: SW380. Grade only. Offered each semester.


This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2- yes

This is a new course proposal- NA (If this is a new course proposal, the WSU Curriculum Approval Form must also be completed as in the process prescribed by WSU Regulation 3-4.)


Department Contact Person for this Course:

Ruth A. Charles, MSW, PhD


A2C2 requires 11 copies of the proposal


This course is designed to satisfy the requirements for the critical analysis flag.


University Studies Program

Critical Analysis Flag

SOCW 410: Analysis of Social Welfare Policy

This course includes the requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to:

1. Recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim.

In order to do a policy analysis paper, students are to complete research on their chosen topic. To begin their research, students are assigned to do an annotated bibliography of academic journals that addresses their topic. For their policy analysis paper, they are to supplement this information with additional sources of evidence, including but not limited to newspaper articles, journal articles, congressional documents, popular press, and interviews with key informants. Students are constantly challenged to evaluate whether sources and arguments are appropriate for a policy analysis paper. Class time is dedicated to completing internet research on their topics. Students learn to identify the source of the information and the political ideology each web site may represent. Students are expected to gather divergent viewpoints on their topics.

2. Apply critical analytic skills in making decisions or in advancing a theoretical position.

Each student is assigned to "lobby" the class on the policy of their choice. This exercise requires students to strategize how to best argue their point and win the audience over to their side. The emphasis is on persuasive speech, but it must be done in a tactical way. Students provide feedback to each other on whether their argument was successful.

These same strategies are used when writing their policy analysis papers. Students are expected to develop arguments and present research that supports their conclusions. Students review each other’s papers during the classroom time and give feedback on whether arguments make sense.

3. Evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework.

A framework for policy analysis by Gilbert and Terrell, in the book Dimensions of Social Welfare Policy, is taught in this class. Each student learns to distinguish the key parts of the framework, that include "who gets what, how, and who pays". Issues of adequacy, equality and equity are also to be addressed. The framework is taught by sections in the class and then used by the students to evaluate a single policy on their own. In class exercises also use the framework to evaluate topics of discussion.


Winona State University

Analysis of Social Welfare Policy- SOCW 410

Spring 2002

Meets Critical Analysis Flag Course



Instructor: Ruth A. Charles, MSW, Ph.D.

Office: Minne 127

Phone: 507-457-5674 (office); 507-452-9244 (home, before 9 PM please)

FAX: 507-457-5086

Office Hours: Monday 1:30-2:30; Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-2:00; Friday 9:00-12:00 or by appointment


Course Prerequisite- SWK 380 Social Welfare Policy


This course is designed to enable students to increase their understanding as generalist social workers of social welfare policy and to learn how to become involved in the political process! The focus is on content of social welfare policy and the process by which policy is made by either the government or agencies. An analytic framework will be presented to assist students in assessing existing social welfare policies. Specifically we will look at policy development and its relationship to and implications for the generalist social work practitioner. We will also experience the impact of policies when we work in a cross disciplinary/collaborative way. Students will analyze selected existing social welfare policies and programs in the areas of poverty, gender, minority issues, immigration, criminal justice, international issues, disability, and areas of their personal choice.


Upon completion of the course, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

1. Define the policy making process, the role of practitioner in that process and how the generalist social worker can influence changes made in existing policies. [C.O. 1,2,4,7]**

2. Recognize the need for generalist social work practitioners, as professionals, to analyze and advocate work for needed changes in policies at all levels of intervention. [C.O. 11,13]

3. Articulate the different dimensions in policy making, and demonstrate their use in analyzing program policies in class assignments. [C.O. 5,6]

4. Recognize and discuss the role of values and choices made in the development of policies, who made those choices, and how those values relate to the student's own values, and those of the profession (NASW Code of Ethics). Evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework. [C.O. 2,8]

5. Demonstrate knowledge of some of the major social welfare programs developed around issues of poverty, discrimination, gender, etc. as they relate to individuals, groups, and society from a generalist perspective. [C.O. 3,5,6]

6. Apply critical analysis skills in making decisions or in advancing a theoretical position by describing and analyzing in depth, one or a portion of a particular social welfare policy, or a specific program. [C.O. 9,14]

7. Know how to find, use and analyze government and program documents for understanding policies. [C.O. 6,11,15]

8. Recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim, in the area of social welfare policy, and be able to debate these issues. [C.O. 11,12,14]

9. Describe the present structures and funding mechanisms for social welfare in the United States and trend towards privatization of social welfare policy. [C.O. 6,10]

** Corresponds with the Curriculum Objectives as found in the Student Handbook


Karger, H. and Stoesz, D. (2001) American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach. New York: Longman.

Gilbert, N. and Terrell, P. (2002) Dimensions of Social Welfare Policy (fourth edition) Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Handouts will also be required reading. The majority is listed in the class schedule. Others may be added.


Attendance/Class Participation

Attendance is required and will be taken, please be prompt. Participation in class discussion is expected. Come to class prepared to discuss the assigned reading and participate in class exercises. Missing 5 classes will result in failure.

Written Assignments

All written assignments are to be word-processed, double-spaced, and grammatically correct. Misspelled words, typographical errors, and grammatical errors will result in significantly lowered grades. All papers will be due at the beginning of class on the date assigned, late papers are discouraged.

Late assignments: With the exception of an official or emergency excuse, grades of late assignments will be reduced by a point for each 24 hour period late, with the initial penalty being assessed from the start of the class meeting in which the assignment is due. If you are significantly late or miss class on the day an assignment is due, you will be penalized twice: for an absence and for a late assignment. If there are any questions, please see the instructor before the assignment is due.

Academic honesty: You will be expected to write your own papers. The principle of respect also demands that we give others credit for their work. To do otherwise may either constitute cheating or plagiarism that is serious violations of University rules. We will talk about how and when to use sources in class and during office hours.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center, located in Minné 340, offers WSU students free, individualized instruction in writing. You may visit the center on your own or on the recommendation of a teacher; you may "drop in," or you may sign up for a scheduled appointment; you may seek assistance with any aspect of your writing for any class or purpose. A schedule and sign-up sheet is posted on the Writing Center door each term. Call x5505 or email for appointments and information.


**Students are requested to obtain an e-mail account to facilitate communication between members of the class (i.e. group work) and myself. WSU e-mail is the administration’s only official way of communicating electronically with students.

We will also be using Blackboard for assignments. Your access to a Winona State University account will be necessary for that as well.

Special Circumstances

If you have a disability or need extra help please see the instructor at the beginning of the semester.


There are a number of varied assignments designed to assist the student's mastery of policy work and analysis. Each assignment is weighted as indicated and will contribute to a final grade which will be based on 100 possible points.

"A" Work

The student has perfect attendance, is prepared for every class and shows interest in the subject. The student does not sit silent but actively contributes to class. The student also knows that excellent participation requires a balance between listening and talking. The student takes responsibility for their education by claiming--not passively receiving--knowledge.

Grading Scale

A=100-90 D=60-69

B= 80-89 F- 59 and below



A. Internet Exercise 5 points

(due 1/29)

B. Annotated Bibliography 5 points

(due 2/5)

C. Exams (10 & 20 points) 30 points

(due 2/14 & 4/11)

D. Agency OR Collaborative Project 10 points

(due 3/19 or 4/9 )

E. Lobbying Presentation to Class 10 points


F. Policy Analysis Paper 20 points

(due 2/28)

H. Letter to Elected Official/Editor 5 points

(due by April 2, 2002)

G. Final 10 points

H. Class Participation/Attendance 5 points

100 points

Detailed instructions will be provided for each assignment so that expectations will be clear. Do not hesitate to ask for clarification and repeat instructions. The goal of these assignments is to prepare you adequately for work as a competent generalist social work professional, not to reward or punish performance. Students will assume a great deal of responsibility for their learning in this course.

Policy Analysis Paper Overview

The major assignment for the course is the analysis of a particular policy (or a portion of a large policy) using the Gilbert & Terrell "Framework for Policy Analysis". This involves each student searching out the actual policy and/or legislation as well as information from hearings, journal articles, advocacy groups, etc. Students must have their policy text in hand by January 29, 2002 in order to participate in the class exercises. The following assignments are designed to help you move through the process.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim; apply critical analytic skills in making decision or in advancing a theoretical position; evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework. (20% of grade)

Internet Exercise

We will have an instructional session on using the internet for obtaining government and policy institute documents. This exercise is to allow students to begin research on the policy of their choice. A short report on sources will be handed in focusing on the validity of your internet resources.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim. (5% of grade)

Annotated Bibliography

Develop an annotated bibliography of at least three journal articles (preferably social work) that address your social welfare policy issue. The articles should be no earlier than 1998. Use the American Psychological Association (APA) style for citing literature. Keep in mind this literature review should be directed towards your policy paper. If you are having difficulty finding journal articles, see me for acceptable alternative sources. The goal is to find research material on both sides of your issue to help you critique the policy.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- recognize and evaluate appropriate evidence to advance a claim; apply critical analytic skills in making decision or in advance a theoretical position. (5% of grade)


In-class Exam (2/14)

This exam will use the Gilbert and Terrell framework for policy analysis. Students will be given a piece of legislation and will have the class time to critically analyze the bill and advance a position. Students will evaluate the proposed legislation and give alternative arguments.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- apply critical analytical skills in making decisions or in advancing a theoretical position; evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework (10% of grade)

Lobbying Presentation

Each student will write a short paragraph to be read to the class introducing the bill to be presented. The student will then have 3-5 minutes to present and "lobby" the group on the issue. The emphasis is on effective communication.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- apply critical analytic skills in making decisions or in advancing a theoretical position; evaluate alternative arguments, decision strategies, or theories within a systematic framework. (10% of grade)

Collaborative/Agency Project

Information for these projects will be handed out during class. Students will sign up for which project they would like to participate in.

Letter to Elected Official/Editor-

Find a social welfare issue that concerns you professionally. Write a letter to the elected official or newspaper editor documenting your case. Information regarding this will be provided. It may be handed in at any time during the semester before April 2, 2002.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS FLAG- apply critical analytic skills in making decision or in advancing theoretical position. (5% of grade)



1/8- Class Introduction- How do you get heard?

1/10- Why do we have a welfare system? Read Gilbert chpt. 1


1/15- What is a welfare state? Read Gilbert chpt.2

1/17- How does a bill become a law? Read Karger chpt 8 and Handouts


1/22- Internet Research Class- Library Room 102

1/24- Who gets what, how and who pays? Read Gilbert chpt 3


1/29- Who is affected by this policy? Read Gilbert chpt 4; Must have policy text in hand (Internet Assignment Due)

1/31- What benefits do we give to people? Read Gilbert chpt 5


2/5- How are services, goods or rights being delivered? Read Gilbert chpt 6 (Annotated Bibliography Due)

2/7- Who is paying for all of this? Read Gilbert chpt 7 & Karger chpt 9


2/12- Assessment Day- No class

2/14- Exam- in class


2/19- Individual Appointments- Bring bill and outline

2/21- Individual Appointments- Bring bill and outline


2/26- No class- CSWE conference

2/28- Policy Analysis Papers due

WEEK NINE: Spring break


3/12- Who makes the choices with our policy ideas? Read Gilbert chpt 9

3/14- Are there other options to nailing and jailing them? Read Karger chpt 14 and handout on restorative justice


3/19- How do non-profits work? Read Karger chpt 6 (Agency Projects due)

3/21- What is big business doing in human services? Read Karger chpt 7 and chpt 8.


3/26- Field Trip to State Capitol

3/28- Where should people live? Read Karger chpt 16


4/2- Does hunger only exist in third world countries? Read Karger chpt 17 (Letter to Elected Official/Editor due)

4/4- What can we learn from other countries’ experiences? Read Karger chpt 18 and handouts- on Bangladesh, & France


4/9- Lobbying- what works, what doesn't! Report on Collaborative Project. Read handout on lobbying. (Collaborative Projects due)

4/11- Exam


4/16- Lobbying Presentations & Critique

4/18- Lobbying Presentations & Critique



4/23- What is our vision of the future? Read handouts

4/25- Wrap-up of course, evaluation/critiques; Get Final Questions

Final- Turn in final paper, class will meet: Wednesday, May 1, 1:00-3:00