Human rights advocates may consider different approaches to specialize a social work degree in race and ethnicity. Social work is a field that helps individuals, families and communities cope with life challenges that have to do with mental health, emotional issues and socioeconomic challenges. With advance credentials, social workers can offer therapy and counseling services to individuals and communities who may require these services due to traumatic events or long-term issues. Social work is a service-oriented career, and it is the ideal jumping-off point for those who are committed to advocating for at-risk, disadvantaged and marginalized communities suffering from race-based discrimination.
Core Mission of Social Work
Social work is an interdisciplinary study that covers psychology, social sciences, human ecology, biological sciences and social policy. Social workers aim to help target populations cope with various short-term and long-term challenges of daily living. The curriculum for a social work degree may be specialized to focus on key advocacies such as child welfare, geriatric care or ethnicity-based challenges. Typically, the social work major will have to complete core courses in social welfare policy, human behavior, social justice and ethics, and social work practice on top of traditional course work in writing, research and subjects in the humanities.
Focusing on Race and Ethnicity Issues
A few social work programs offer coursework that would help direct undergraduate studies toward a social work career that focuses on race and ethnicity. These courses may be taken as electives to supplement the Bachelor's in Social Work program. It may also be worthwhile to incorporate race and ethnicity courses from the sociology department as well as ethnic studies offered by the humanities division.
Social work majors can focus their course work on race and ethnicity by choosing these topics as the subject of their research and writing projects even during the pre-major years as freshmen or sophomores. These are hot-button issues that affect personal attitudes, social norms and legislative policies. Enhance the experience by participating in extracurricular activities that support ethnic groups.
How Race and Ethnicity Impact Social Work
According to job descriptions by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers are involved in identifying individuals and communities that may be in need of mental, emotional, financial and social assistance. Social workers are tasked with assessing their needs and environment to determine the best strategies to provide meaningful support, including adjusting to new situations and accessing helpful therapies and programs.
It is difficult to ignore the race component when identifying individuals and communities that may require social welfare services. In fact, it is helpful to consider race and ethnicity as factors that help define the needs of certain demographic groups. More importantly, developing workable solutions and implementing programs for social problems such as poverty, unemployment and health challenges will work more effectively when the racial context is considered.
Related Resource: Top 10 Online Social Work Degree Programs 2018
Outlook for Social Workers
Social work is a broad field that covers a wide range of services for diverse groups. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment outlook for this field will continue to expand by 16 percent between 2016 and 2026. This growth is much faster than the average expansion rate for other occupations and understandably so. Access to social services and delivery of programs that help disadvantaged groups will remain a top priority in benevolent societies. For those advocating for social justice and racial equality, it is wise to consider specializing a social work degree in ethnicity and race because these two issues will continue to impact social and legislative policies.