SWK 357 03: Human Behavior and the Social Environment II


SWK 357 - Human Behavior and the Social Environment II

2023 Spring Syllabus, Section 03, CRN 8472

Times and Location

T 6pm-8:30pm in UND Online

Instructor Information

Yi-Ping Hsieh, PhD, LBSW

Email: yiping.hsieh@und.edu

Office: Gillette Hall Room#301B or virtual zoom

2023 Spring Office Hours:
By appointment

Office Phone: 701-777-5633

Stephanie Homstad

Course Description

Application of social work theory and research across the life span, with social systems theory as the conceptual framework. Theories regarding development of groups, communities and organizations.

3 credits. Prerequisite: Admission to the BSSW Program.


  1. Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior.
  2. Engage diversity and difference in practice.
  3. Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.
  4. Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice.
  5. Engage in policy practice.
  6. Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  7. Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  8. Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
  9. Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of SWK 357 students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power.
  2. Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups.
  3. Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences.
  4. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination.
  5. Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice.
  6. Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.
  7. Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention and evaluation.
  8. Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment.


This course will focus on the following competencies and practice behaviors: 

  1. C2 Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice.
  2. C3 Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice.
  3. C6 Engage with Individuals

Course Materials

Required Readings

Hutchison. (2018).  Dimensions of Human Behavior:  Person and Environment (6th ed.).  Sage. ISBN: 978-1-5443-3929-0

Additional readings assigned will be posted in Blackboard

Technical Requirements/Assistance

Whether you’re taking courses in the classroom or online, it’s important to have the right technology and equipment.  Visit the UND Technical Requirements webpage for more information. Students are expected to use their official UND email in the course. For technical assistance, please contact UND Technical Support at 701.777.2222. Visit the University Information Technologies (UIT) website for their hours, help documents and other resources.



In-Class Activity & Participation100

Social Work is a professional degree program, and acquisition of professional values and ethics is reliant on participation in class discussions and activities. Participation cannot be made up outside of class.

We will use part of the class time to engage in Class Activities and Discussions of the week’s topics. These activities/discussions are a way to help you see how well you grasp some of the key points from that week’s module and how well you can apply in the real-world situations. I will make notes of your participations throughout the semester. Class Activities and Discussions are worth 100 points. (10 points each x 10).  


Reflection Essays150

A reflection essay (1-2 page) is designed for each lesson. These reflection essays aim to promote critical thinking and reflection on the specific topics and engage reading before the class. Topics and Instructions can be found on Blackboard. Reflection Essays are worth 150 points. (15 points each x 10).

Interview Paper50

This interview is for learning purposes. Each student will interview a social worker or related professionals currently in the field (or recently retired) to answer the following questions and write a 3-page report. You can send the questions in advance to the person before you meet for the interview. You are responsible for choosing and communicating with the person(s) you interview. You may ask the person’s permission to take notes or audio recording during the interview. The information (agency’s name, the person’s name and position) need to be included in your report (unless the person has concerns of listing her/his name). Format: APA 7th Edition Style Requirements. It is worth 50 points.

If it is not possible to meet face to face, you can also use phone interview or Zoom meeting. The person you choose can be a current social worker or formal social worker with experiences.

You can use the following questions as a guideline in your interview.  Feel free to add questions, and to ask follow-up questions. Once the interview is completed, you are responsible to write an interview report using your words, incorporating some direct quotes, and adding your reflections.

Here are the questions to be included in the interview: 

Based on your observation, experiences, and knowledge in the field and the agency/institution,

  1. May I learn more about your job? (What do you do in this position?)
  2. Could you please identify a few problems/issues/challenges you see in the systems, policies, services, or process/procedure?

  3. What is the most rewarding moment in this job?

  4. If there is a chance, what would you like to advocate for or make a difference?

  5. If there is a chance, what would you like to advocate for or make a difference?

  6. Any advice for entering the field?

  7. (Optional) You can create your own, additional, questions for the interview.



We have two graded debates this semester. You will be assigned to one side of the debate teams (For vs. Against team). Each person individually prepares the evidence/statistics and arguments to support your case, and submit your individual one-page note on Blackboard. The grading is based on the individual note you submitted on Blackboard along with the debate participation. The debate topics will be announced. Two Debates are worth 30 points. (15 points each x 2).

Debate Process: We will ask one volunteer to be the judge and decide who win the case based on the information presented. In the class, you will have 10-15 minutes before the actual debate to meet with your small group to discuss and summarize the notes/materials. Everyone is expected to present at least one point/evidence for your case (for or against arguments) in the debate. When it is the rebuttal time, any team member can jump in. It is not a very formal debate but could be a fun one with great learning opportunities.

Group Project

Final Group Paper & Presentation120

You will work in small groups inside and outside the class, to specify an issue people are facing, identify a topic in which you are interested, and conduct a literature-review group Project (include a paper and a presentation). The topic needs to be approved by the instructor. The Final paper and presentation should include introduction, main body of the literature review, conclusion, suggestions/implications/take home messages based on the results of your research, a question to lead for class discussion, and a reference list. The final paper is worth 100 points, and the final presentation is worth 20 points. (120 pts total).

The Final Paper should contain the following sections:


2.Literature Review:



5.Reference List.

Final Paper formatting: Use Time New Roman 12 Font, double space. The expected length: 8-10 pages (not including title page and the reference list). The title page can include the course name and term, the title, group number, your names, and the date.

Final Presentation: 20-25 minutes per group.

*Each group uploads both Final Paper and PowerPoint on Blackboard.

Examples of possible topics:

1.     Children in Domestic Violence and the Consequences.

2.     Child Maltreatment, Coping, and Resilience.

3.     Social Media and Mental Health.

4.     Risk and Protective Factors of Online Victimization.

5.     Protective and Risk Factors of Elderly Abuse.

6.     Human Trafficking in the United State.

7.     Prevention and Intervention of bullying and cyberbullying.

8.     Historical Trauma and Its Impact on Native Americans

9.     Effective Treatments for PTSD in Children and Adolescents

10.  Other topics…

Midterm Group Presentation - Cultural Diversity and Social Justice100

You will work in small groups inside and outside the class, to research on cultural diversity in one of the ten population groups in the United States. Ten population groups include: (1) Latinos/Latinas (Hispanic Americans), (2) African Americans, (3) Asian Americans, (4) Arab Americans and Middle Eastern Americans, (5) Native Americans, (6) White Ethnics and Jews, (7) LGBTQ, (8) Veteran. (9) People with disabilities. (10) Homeless or other groups you are interested. The purpose of this activity is to learn more about a specific culture and advance knowledge about Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice.  This assignment will assess the student’s proficiency in meeting Competency #3 as an embedded measure.

Each team has the chance to select one population group you are interested the most, but no overlapping with other teams. Sign up at the Wiki on Blackboard; this will be available at the conclusion of week 2. It is on the basis of “First come, first select.” The midterm group presentation is worth 100 points. The contents of the presentation will include: 

  1. Define the population group and Provide a brief demographic/statistical overview of the population group.
  2. A brief history overview (keep it short, limited to one slide).
  3. Main values/beliefs/cultural practices. (e.g., gender roles, parenting and child rearing beliefs, family values and social hierarchy, dominant religions, etc.)
  4. Strengths and contributions (can use statistics information in economic/education/art/science and examples of role models).
  5. Identify social, economic, and environmental injustice or stigma/stereotypes facing the population group.
  6. Propose an activity or a letter to raise awareness and advocate for human rights at the individual and systems level to advance social, economic, and environmental justice for this group.
  7. Ask an open-ended question at the end and take the lead for class discussion.
  8. Reference (in APA style). Purdue OWL provides help with APA formatting.

Midterm Presentation: 25 minutes per group. Midterm group presentation is worth 100 points. Submit PowerPoint on Blackboard.



Each exam may include matching questions, true or false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short essay. To prepare for the exam make sure to have read all of the assigned readings, watched the recorded lectures, and reviewed the provided study guide. Three exams are worth 120 points. (40 points each x 3). 

Assessment Summary

Assignment                                               Final Grade

  1. Quizzes (10 @ 10 pts each)                                          100 Points
  2. Weekly Discussion Boards (15 @ 5 pts each)                75 Points
  3. Research Paper                                                            100 Points
  4. Presentation                                                                 100 Points
  5. Presentation Peer Feedback                                         25 Points
  6. Final Exam                                                                    100 Points
  7. Active Participation                                                      100 Points

                  Total: 600 Points

Final Grade Scale

> 89.5% A

79.5-89.4% B

69.5-79.5% C

59.5-69.4% D

< 59.4% F

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

Week of Reading(s): Agenda/Topic: Due:
1/10 Syllabus
Chapter 1
Review syllabus
Social work process model
Form Groups
1/17 Chapter 2 Theoretical Perspectives of Human Behavior
Guest Speaker "Literature Review" by Montanna Barnett
Submit Reflection Essay #1 (due on 1/17 before class)
1/24 Chapter 4
Chapter 5
The Psychosocial Person: Cognition, Emotion, & Self;
The Psychosocial Person: Relationships, Stress & Coping
Submit Reflection Essay #2 (due on 1/24 before class)
1/31 Chapter 7 The Physical Environment
Guest Speaker- “Gerontological Social Work- Communities & Organizations for Long Term Care” by Catherine Stark
Submit Reflection Essay #3 (due on 1/31 before class)
2/7 Chapter 10 Family Submit Reflection Essay #4 (due on 2/7 before class)
2/14 Chapter 13 Exam 1 (Ch 2, 5, 7, 10)
Submit Reflection Essay #5 (due on 2/14 before class)
2/21 Chapter 8 Cultures (Ch8)
Guest Speaker- “Refugees/ New Americans” by Adam Fortwengler (6pm)
Unify Challenge College Bowl (7pm)
Submit Reflection Essay #6 (due on 2/21 before class)
Post the title of the final project (due 2/21)
2/28 Midterm Group Presentations Midterm Group Presentation (due 2/28 before class)
Embedded measure for Comp #3
3/7 Chapter 9 Social Structure & Social Institutions: Global & National -- Political & Economic Systems & Poverty
Guest Speaker- “Culture around sexual violence” by Allison from CVIC
Submit Reflection Essay #7 (due on 3/7 before class)
3/14 No Class
3/21 Exam 2
Submit Reflection Essay #8 (due on 3/21 before class)
3/28 Health Care
Debate #1
Submit Debate #1 note (due on 3/28 before class)
4/4 Education Submit Reflection Essay #9 (due on 3/28 before class)
4/11 Criminal Justice
Debate #2
Submit Reflection Essay #10 (due on 4/11 before class)
Submit Debate #2 note (due on 4/11 before class)
4/18 Sexual Orientation & Gender Inequality
Guest Speaker- “Gender & Sexuality” by Jeff Maliskey
4/25 Exam 3
(tentative) Guest Speaker- “PTSD, Substance Use Disorder, & psychotherapy” by Liz Meyer
5/2 Final Group Presentation Submit PowerPoints for the Final Group Presentation. (due 5/2 before class).
Final Group Project paper. (due 5/9 at 11:59pm).
Interview Paper (due 5/9 at 11:59pm)


This is a place to add things like resources, rubrics, etc.

Course Policies

Late Work

Professional social work practice dictates that social workers are responsive and timely in their work with and on behalf of their clients.  It is expected that all work will be submitted on Blackboard by the designated due date.  Blackboards submission time stamp on your assignment will be verification if your assignment is considered late.  Assignments turned in late may result in a 10% deduction each day

Absentee Policy

According to the UND handbook, Students are expected to attend all classes, precluding emergencies, and participate meaningfully in all learning opportunities.  

Participation includes demonstrating both speaking and active listening skills during classroom activities.  At least as important as speaking, active listening is a powerful and legitimate form of participation and includes screen presence (where applicable) and displaying positive nonverbal body language that reflects engagement with the learning process and respecting the person who is speaking. Speaking includes discreet and appropriate questioning, commenting, and sharing opinions regarding the classroom content. 

Social Work is a professional degree program, and acquisition of professional values and ethics is reliant on participation in class discussions and activities. Participation cannot be made up outside of class. Any student who receives an insufficient attendance grade (less than 70%), for any reason (including illness or athletics) may receive a failing grade or be asked to withdraw from this course.  As a general standard, it is not possible to earn attendance and participation points for missed classes.

If a student is required to isolate or quarantine due to illness or exposure, they need to notify the University through the proper documentation and guidance on the following website: https://und.edu/covid-19/  as well as communicate the information to their instructors.  Due to technological and resource realities, there is no option to offer a hybrid model (such as zoom) to our campus students. 

Technology Statement

Laptops and other electronic devices are allowed in class for educational purposes only. All work and assignments are to be submitted electronically on Blackboard. Students are expected to regularly have access to technology to check email, access announcements and instructions in Blackboard, submit assignments, and engage in regular communication.

College/Department Policies

In addition to Course and University Policies, the Colleges and/or Departments may have some of their own.  Please edit this section to add any polices for your college or department.  This could include things like mission statements, professional standards, ethical statements, etc.

University of North Dakota Policies & Resources

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a serious matter, and any deviations from appropriate behavior will be dealt with strongly. At the discretion of the professor, situations of concern may be dealt with as a scholastic matter or a disciplinary matter.

As a scholastic matter, the professor has the discretion to determine appropriate penalties for the student’s workload or grade, but the situation may be resolved without involving many individuals. An alternative is to treat the situation as a disciplinary matter, which can result in suspension from the University, or have lesser penalties. Be aware that I view this as a very serious matter and will have little tolerance and/or sympathy for questionable practices. A student who attempts to obtain credit for work that is not their own (whether that be on a paper, quiz, homework assignment, exam, etc.) will likely receive a failing grade for that item of work, and at the professor’s discretion, may also receive a failing grade in the course. For more information read the Code of Student Life.

Access and Opportunity, Disability Support, & Medical Services

The University of North Dakota is committed to providing equal access to students with documented disabilities. To ensure access to this class and your program, please contact Disability Services for Students (DSS) to engage in a confidential discussion about accommodations for the classroom and clinical settings. Accommodations are not provided retroactively. Students are encouraged to register with DSS at the start of their program. More information can be obtained by email UND.dss@UND.edu or by phone at 701.777.2664.


UND is committed to maintaining a safe learning environment while providing quality learning experiences for our students. COVID-19’s continued presence within our UND community may necessitate changes in classroom management as the academic year progresses. As such, UND asks students and instructors to be flexible when necessary to promote a safe environment for learning. Please do not attend an in-person class or lab if you are feeling ill, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been directed by health professionals to quarantine or isolate. If you are not able to attend class or lab, please notify your instructor as soon as possible and discuss options for making up any missed work in order to ensure your ability to succeed in the course. If you will have an extended absence due to serious illness or other uncontrollable circumstances, you may request an absence notification through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Similarly, if your instructor is ill they may need to cancel class or temporarily move your course to online delivery to ensure that you are able to complete the course successfully.  Instructors may require students to wear masks in the classroom or in the laboratory as a preventative measure designed to facilitate uninterrupted classroom engagement and to facilitate health and safety in the classroom.   If your instructor does require masks in class or in a laboratory, you are expected to comply with that request.

UND also strongly encourages all members of the University community, including students, to get vaccinated, seek out testing when needed, and model positive behavior both on- and off-campus to foster a healthy and safe learning environment for all students. Individuals who would like to discuss disability accommodations regarding masks should contact the Disability Services for Students (DSS) office at 701.777.2664 or UND.dss@UND.edu. Individuals who are unable to wear a mask due to a sincerely held religious belief should contact the UND Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office at 701.777.4171 or UND.EO.TitleIX@UND.edu.

Religious Accommodations

UND offers religious accommodations, which are reasonable changes in the academic environment that enable a student to practice or observe a sincerely held religious belief without undue hardship on the University. Examples include time for prayer or the ability to attend religious events or observe a religious holiday. To request an accommodation, complete the student religious accommodation request form. If you have any questions, you may contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office.

Pregnancy Accommodations

Students who need assistance with academic adjustments related to pregnancy or childbirth may contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office or Academic Affairs to learn about your options. Additional information and services may be found at Pregnancy Resources.

Notice of Nondiscrimination

It is the policy of the University of North Dakota that no person shall be discriminated against because of race, religion, age, color, gender, disability, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, veteran’s status, or political belief or affiliation and the equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all. Concerns regarding Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, ADA, and Section 504 may be addressed to Donna Smith, Assistant Vice President for Equal Opportunity & Title IX and Title IX/ADA Coordinator, 102 Twamley Hall, 701.777.4171, UND.EO.TitleIX@UND.edu or the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education, 230 S. Dearborn St., 37th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604 or any other federal agency.

Reporting of Discrimination, Harassment, or Sexual Misconduct

If you or a friend has experienced sexual misconduct, such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, please contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX Office or UND’s Title IX Coordinator, Donna Smith, for assistance: 701.777.4171; donna.smith@UND.edu; or visit the Title IX webpage. You may also contact the Equal Opportunity & Title IX office if you or a friend has experienced discrimination or harassment based on a protected class, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, pregnancy, marital or parental status, veteran's status, or political belief or affiliation.

Faculty Reporting Obligations Regarding Discrimination, Harassment, or Sexual Misconduct

It is important for students to understand that faculty are required to share with UND’s Title IX Coordinator any incidents of sexual misconduct or of discrimination or harassment based on a protected class that they become aware of, even if those incidents occurred in the past or are disclosed as part of a class assignment. This does not mean an investigation will occur if the student does not want that, but it does allow UND to provide resources to help the student continue to be successful at UND. If you have been impacted by discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct, you can find information about confidential support services on the Equal Opportunity & Title IX webpage..

UND Cares Program

How to Seek Help When in Distress

We know that while college is a wonderful time for most students, however, some students may struggle or have issues that arise. You may experience students in distress on campus, in your classroom, in your home, and within residence halls. Distressed students may initially seek assistance from faculty, staff members, their parents, and other students. In addition to the support we can provide to each other, there are also professional support services available to students through the Dean of Students and University Counseling Center. Both staffs are available to consult with you about getting help or providing a friend with the help that he or she may need. For more additional information, please visit the UND Cares Program Webpage.

How to Recognize When a Student is in Distress

The term “distressed” can mean any of the following:

  • Student has significant changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, spending, or other daily activities.
  • Student has cut off or minimized contact with family or friends.
  • Student has significant changes in performance or involvement in academics, sports, extracurricular, or social activities.
  • Student describes problems (missing class, not remembering, destructive behavior) that result from experiences with drinking or drugs.
  • Student is acting withdrawn, volatile, tearful, etc.
  • Student is acting out of character or different than usual.
  • Student is talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide.
  • Student has difficulty concentrating or difficulty carrying on a normal conversation.
  • Student has excessive dependence on others for company or support.
  • Student reports feeling out of control of one’s emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

Land Acknowledgement Statement

Today, the University of North Dakota rests on the ancestral lands of the Pembina and Red Lake Bands of Ojibwe and the Dakota Oyate - presently existing as composite parts of the Red Lake, Turtle Mountain, White Earth Bands, and the Dakota Tribes of Minnesota and North Dakota. We acknowledge the people who resided here for generations and recognize that the spirit of the Ojibwe and Oyate people permeate this land. As a university community, we will continue to build upon our relations with the First Nations of the State of North Dakota - the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation, Spirit Lake Nation, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

Additional Resources

It is my goal to foster an environment of mutual respect in which everyone feels comfortable voicing their opinions, sharing their stories, and learning about potentially heavy or personally relevant material. If, at any point, you feel like the information covered in this class elicits thoughts, feelings, or concerns that you would like to discuss further, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or the UND Counseling Center (701-777-2127).

Further, if you experience extenuating circumstances, sexual violence, identity-based harm, or any other personal crisis during the semester, don’t hesitate to reach out to me so we can provide academic assistance and help you in this course, and put you in contact with the appropriate resources and services (if needed).