Article published in Journal of Social Work Education, Volume 56, 2020 , Sup 1
The Policy Advocacy and Social Change course is a specialized practice course offered in the Master of Social Work Program (MSW) at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. The course is designed to introduce MSW students to a variety of policy frameworks (i.e., Kingdon’s policy window, political model of reasoning) and analytical approaches (i.e., intersectionality and stakeholder analysis) that focus on developing their policy advocacy practice. Both the instructors and students are challenged to develop new ways to engage, distribute, and share knowledge about improving the lives of homeless individuals. Through the course assignments, which include a social issue report, policy brief, and policy advocacy campaign using social media, social work graduate students gain the skills and competencies needed to activate their agency and build capacity to become effective policy advocates.
The purpose of this article is to offer a pedagogical approach for developing a multifaceted policy advocacy practice addressing the Grand Challenge for Social Work to end homelessness. The article is also intended to add to the emerging dialogue about the ways to develop a policy advocacy practice (Hoefer, 2016; Jansson, 2016; McNutt & Hoefer, 2016) and advance the role social workers can play in preventing and eliminating homelessness (Padgett & Henwood, 2018).