Community, Policy and Political Social Action (CPPSA)


Despite the unprecedented economic growth over the past 60 years, today 1 in 5 children in the US live below the federal poverty line, incarceration rates are the highest in the world, and rates of social and economic mobility are stagnating. Aging populations, globalization, and disruptive technological change are further deepening the economic and social inequalities that are rooted in historical oppression and injustice.

The Community, Policy, and Political Social Action Specialization recognizes that social workers must work to eliminate social and economic inequalities and advocate for social policies that advance social justice. The goal of the Specialization is for each student to obtain the tools needed to be effective change-makers. 

This Specialization will develop competencies for students interested in practice, research, policy and systemic change in areas such as:

  • Community Organizing
  • Community Development
  • Social Activism
  • Policy Advocacy Elected Office
  • Policy Analysis and Research
  • Management and Leadership 


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. 


Elective Courses 

  • HWC 527- (SB) Social Work in the Political Process: Campaign School
  • HWC 547- (SB) Managing Conflict:  Groups, Organizations and Communities
  • HWC 551- (SB) Law and Social Change
  • HWC 556- (ONLINE) - Proposal Writing in Health and Human services
  • HWC 577- (ONLINE)-  Program Evaluation in Health and Human Service Programs
  • HWC 579- (SB) LGBT* in Social Work Practice: Micro Interventions and Political Change
  • HWC 579-  (SB) Forensic Social Work: Psychosocial and Legal Issues
  • HWC 579- (SB) Social Work in Higher Education
  • HWC 579- (NYC) Social Work Practice with Immigrant and Refugee Families
  • HWC 579/HBC 511- (SB) Disability, Bioethics and Communities
  • HWC 579- (SB) Dynamics and Therapeutic Interventions with People Impacted by Trauma
  • HWC 581- (SB) Public Health and Community Health Intervention
  • HWC 584- (SB) Social Work Practice with the Military and Military Families



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