Social Work

Mission

Preamble

The St. Thomas University Bachelor of Social Work program is located in a small liberal arts institution whose mission statement includes values and beliefs that are congruent with the teaching philosophy and structural perspective adopted in our social work program.

We are a university primarily concerned with people, ideas and values. We are an institution with a social conscience. We are united in the belief that women and men of divergent backgrounds and abilities should have an opportunity to learn and practice critical thought and to realize their intellectual potential in an academic setting that is both responsive and stimulating. St. Thomas University Calendar

Within the context of the practical and philosophical mission of the larger university, the School of Social Work subscribes to humanitarian and egalitarian goals. Our Mission Statement provides an ideological foundation and is a step in the evolution of our teaching philosophy and in our efforts to make the social/political structures of the BSW program more congruent with the values espoused in the curriculum. There is an intrinsic understanding of the diversity of people attempting to work collaboratively in the educational endeavour as well as an acceptance of the conflictual nature of growth and change. The Mission Statement informs behavioural objectives which flow from the structural social work value base and also provides clear guidelines for conflict resolution. It attempts to clarify a continually developing program vision for teaching and work practices that are congruent with the structural perspective taught in this BSW program.

Mission Statement

The primary objective of the BSW program at St. Thomas University is to facilitate student development to a beginning level of practice competence in the profession of social work. As a School of Social Work we are committed to the teaching and development of a structural social work perspective among faculty, students, staff and with the larger community. In order to achieve this, the School of Social Work has adopted an approach based on the values of openness, respect, collegiality, mutuality, accountability and reconciliation. First, faculty endeavour to prepare students to practice structural social work by fostering critical thinking and critical self-reflection skills and by teaching the values, ethics, knowledge and skills required in order to promote social justice within their practice. Second, we emphasize our responsibility as social workers to assist people in achieving their human potential and to work for the development of the social and material conditions which would enable this growth. Third, we understand that this can only occur within a context that seeks ecological justice and life long learning.

Within the School of Social Work, we strive to create a community-oriented environment based on inclusion and mutual respect. Giving voice to all members of the community is intrinsic to the recognition of diversity and necessary to sustain the partnership required to support an empowering learning and teaching experience and to foster the development of structural social work theory and practice. An ethic of interdependence is central to our perspective and is integral to the curriculum, facilitating the capacity of all members to grow.

Philosophical Principles

It is our belief that community fosters a healthy environment for learning and teaching. Developing a sense of community based on the values of mutual respect, open-mindedness, acceptance, compassion, flexibility, and creativity are essential to a learning environment that is empowering for all those who participate in the BSW community.

In the context of a learning community, we strive for student/faculty relationships based on mutuality and reciprocity. Thus, students are involved extensively in the governance of the Department. While we strive to operate by consensus among faculty and with students, this is not always possible in working collectively. However, we are committed to resolving issues through constructive and creative problem solving.

Even though we strive for optimum standards in our teaching environment, we understand that conflict is normal and that confusion and uncertainty are a natural part of the learning process. These challenges help us to appreciate our humanity and acknowledge our limitations, thus motivating us to foster healing and reconciliation on a personal and collective basis.

We believe that learning is a collaborative, social process. Students derive many benefits from participating in the classroom learning process with other students. Students' sharing, questioning, and exploration of issues are a critical element in the integration of concepts presented by faculty. Paradoxically, it is through collaborative learning that individuality and diversity are revealed. This provides us with rich opportunities for learning in which we address the differences in a respectful manner.