Community, Policy and Political Social Action (CPPSA)


Social work is a profession that is deeply committed to social justice and human rights. So many of the problems faced by people who are our clients are the result of and affected by the way that our society is structured. The impact of inequality, oppression and the denial of human rights results in profound struggles in the daily lives and the denial and diminishment of people’s lived potentials and opportunities. What are just some of these impacts?

  • Segregation in housing and employment
  • Unequal access to quality education
  • Police brutality 
  • Homelessness 
  • Lack of access to nutritional food
  • Human trafficking
  • Lack of access to quality healthcare
  • Gang violence…

While these are just some of the impacts, social workers play significant and varied roles in working to foster change in these and other social problems. 

Thus, the Community, Policy and Political Social Action Specialization (CPPSA) prepares social workers to 

  • Work as community organizers working with and supporting the empowerment of people in neighborhoods, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, immigrants, etc. to gain capacity and reclaim their rights to lives characterized by human dignity and equal access to resources necessary for decent and fulfilling lives;
  • Work in advocacy for legislative and corporate policy changes that result in increased equality and social justice;
  • Run for elected offices, from school boards to the US Senate, thereby having a direct impact on the policies that directly and indirectly shape our society and people’s lives;
  • Work in elected officials’ offices helping to shape policies and assist communities and constituents;
  • Conduct research necessary to provide data to support communities and community based organizations in their efforts to fight for change;
  • Lead progressive, empowerment based community organizations that help to foster change in people’s lives and communities; 
  • Engage in community education and outreach also using print, video and social media to increase civic engagement, critical consciousness, knowledge and skills that enable communities to come together to work for social change; 
  • And, more…

Social work is dedicated to social justice and human rights and CPPSA is a specialization in the Stony Brook School of Social Welfare that prepares you to be social work leaders in the fight for social change for a more just and equal world.


HWC 502 - Field Education III HWC 503 - Field Education IV
HWC 570 - Advanced Tools for Social Change: Practice I HWC 571 - Advanced Tools for Social Change: Practice II
HWC 572 - Leadership for Social Change HWC 573 - Social and Political Change
HWC 519 - Psychopathology & Psychopharmacology Elective
Elective Elective

*Psychopathology and three electives may be taken in any semester after the successful completion of the First Year. 



Required Courses and Descriptions

HWC 570 - Advanced Tools for Social Change: Practice I
Building on foundation knowledge, values and skills, this course will deepen student capacity to work for social change. Students will build their expertise using interpersonal communication, relationship building, organizing skills in select areas such as visioning, problem analysis, community engagement, assessment, action research and mobilizing communities to work for change. This course expands upon the students’ learning in their first year policy courses to utilize advanced critical theories to analyze social problems and develop tools for social change with a special emphasis on community and empowerment. (Must be taken concurrent with HWC 502) 3 credits Fall Semester 

HWC 571 - Advanced Tools for Social Change: Practice II
Building on the knowledge and skills in the first semester of Advanced Tools for Social Change, Part II focuses on developing students’ skills in analyzing issues, developing powerful arguments and communicating persuasively with multiple audiences using multiple media platforms. Using a lens of critical theories, students will learn to engage with and mobilize constituents, form coalitions, lobby policy makers and leverage political power to challenge systemic structures of power and privilege and effect positive social change in the areas of students’ passion. (Must be taken concurrent with HWC 503)   3 credits, Spring Semester

HWC 572 - Leadership for Social Change 
Leadership is widely understood as a critical success factor for advancing social change. In this class, students are educated to develop advanced leadership skills to create and sustain social-change organizations that address societal inequities. The course covers the many facets of social change leadership, including effective communication, strategic planning, and program development.  The course will consider what it means to be a leader, the kinds of skills leaders need to succeed in diverse community settings, and what are the necessary preconditions for social change. Additional focus will be on anti-oppressive organizational and program development, management, resource development and financial management. Specific focus will be devoted to providing students with opportunities to develop their presentation and analysis skills and to receive peer feedback. 3 Credits, Fall Semester

HWC 573 - Social and Political Change (Hybrid)
By its nature, social and political change is action oriented. This course will provide students with the opportunity and value, knowledge and skill based guidance to undertake an actual advocacy/community change oriented capstone project. Students will work with community based social change organizations on a social change project for approximately 35 hours during the semester in lieu of classroom meetings. During the 5 in-class meetings and online discussions, students will act as consultants to one another, reflecting on learning from project work, readings and other courses in the specialization. 3 credits, Spring Semester