HUM 213 – Child Welfare
This course is a survey of child welfare as a field of social work practice. Course content includes the relationships of parents, children and society; the development of old and new governmental programs for children; the impact on the family of child welfare policies, and the future of child welfare programs in the United States.
In this project, I wanted students to reflect on their identity and their experiences of belonging or alienation from systems (e.g. child welfare, criminal justice, college etc.). I aimed to explore these through semi-structured questions both online for individual reflection and for group discussion. Some of the questions I asked students to reflect on for exploring identity were:
What are your key identities (e.g. racial, spiritual, familial, gender-based, sexual, professional, educational etc.)?Is there a difference between how you see yourself and how others see you? What are the key values (e.g. respect, empathy, hard-work etc.) that follow from these identities? Read the posts from other students and describe how similar or different your identities are from that student.If possible, post a picture of something that represents your identity or that you connect with in any way.
Some of the questions I asked students to reflect on about Institutions and systems were:
All of us interact with multiple systems/ institutions (e.g. familial, educational, political, economic, religious, courts, child welfare, cultural, medical etc.) every day of our lives. Choose any two of these systems/institutions and describe ways that these systems could make you feel a sense of belonging or alienation.
Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?
This is a course on the child welfare system which has not always served all groups of people with an even hand. Many students at BMCC have experienced alienation from the many systems around us (e.g. child welfare, criminal justice and educational system). I included these discussions so that students could have the chance to reflect on their identity and how that contributed to their inclusion or exclusion from the benefits of various institutions in society.
What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?
I would recommend that faculty remain flexible and modify their project according to the needs of the students. For instance, I started out by including a few online discussion questions on blackboard early in the semester. The amount of sharing I found was quite limited and lacked depth. I realized that issues such as identity, belonging and experiences with institutions are quite personal to students and these are better discussed when we meet. Therefore, I modified my assignments and gave students more time in class to discuss and reflect on these rather than giving them these questions for personal reflection.
Sample discussion prompts and excerpts from student responses.