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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Criminal Justice Administration and Human Services Department
Course Prefix and Number: HUMS 365
Course Title: *American Social Policy
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Emphasis on the nature and development of American social policy, including the history of current structures of social welfare services, the role of policy in service delivery and analyses of current social policy issues including family policy, health care policy, drug policy, tax policy and other topical issues. Cross-listed as SOCI 365. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Junior standing.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Spring.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Textbooks listed are not necessarily the textbooks used in the course. The textbook(s) chosen should include theory and technique appropriate for baccalaureate level practice.

Foundations of Social Policy - Social Justice in Human Perspective
By Barusch, A. S. (Brooks/Cole)
Creating the Welfare State: The Political Economy of the Twentieth Century Reform
By Berkowitz, E. D. and McQuaid, K. (UP of Kansas)
Dimensions of Social Welfare Policy
By Gilbert, N. and Terrell, P. (Allyn and Bacon)
From Poor Law to Welfare State
By Trattner, W. (Free Press)
The Social Divide: Political Parties and the Future of Activist Government
By Weir, M. ( Brookings Institute Press)
Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare 1890-1935
By Gordon, L. (Free Press)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Disposable Children: America’s Child Welfare System
By Golden, R. (Wadsworth)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Controversial Issues in Social Policy
By Karger, H. J., Midgley, J. and Brown, C. B. (Allyn & Bacon)
Category/Comments - Supplemental text
Course Objectives

  • To explore the historical roots, and the social, political, and economic structures that currently form the foundation of social welfare programs and services in the United States.
  • To understand the role of social welfare policy in service delivery, practice and the attainment of optimal individual and social well-being.
  • To understand the political process and various sources of information that are useful to understanding contemporary American social welfare policies.
  • To explore the concepts of distributive justice, human and civil rights, and the global interconnectedness of oppression.

    Measurable Learning

  • Identify and describe major social welfare policies and programs.
  • Describe the policy making process from the initial stages through implementation.
  • Identify values that shape contemporary social welfare policy.
  • Describe major historical trends in a changing American political climate.
  • Identify how social programs are funded.
  • Discuss how social policy has impacted and continues to impact various vulnerable populations.
  • Discuss how social welfare policies have been used as a mechanism for oppression and discrimination.
  • Discuss how social welfare policies have been used to advance social and economic justice.
  • Describe strategies of advocacy and social change.
  • Describe the process by which policies are formulated and implemented on the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Describe social policy following course specific guidelines and from a social justice perspective.
  • Demonstrate skills in policy research.
  • Compare American social policies to the social policies of other nations.
  • Write a research paper using the American Psychological Association (APA) format for writing a paper.

    Topical Outline:

    Note: This class will emphasize writing in the APA format and students are expected to improve their research and writing skills.

  • Distributive justice
  • Universal declaration of human rights
  • The policy process
  • Historical perspectives
  • Funding social welfare programs - tax policy
  • The Social Security Act
  • Social insurance programs
  • Public assistance programs
  • Social services
  • Family policy
  • Poverty
  • Nutrition/hunger
  • Health care policy
  • Mental health policy
  • The drug war and drug policy
  • Child welfare policy
  • The elderly
  • Women, minorities, and immigrant policies
  • Civil rights policy
  • Sexual orientation - gay rights
  • Affirmative action
  • Native Americans
  • Policy analysis
  • Global issues and comparisons
  • Advocacy
  • Implementation and evaluation


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Yngve Digernes Date: August 25, 2014
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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