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The Graduate School of
Social Work and Social Research



Message from the Deans

Today the School is reaching out to many individuals, organizations, and communities in diverse and powerful ways. The Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI) provides specialized learning opportunities to the region’s non-profit leaders. Our Career Changers seminar invites individuals from a range of professional and life experiences to explore social work education. Our partnership with the borough of Norristown encourages students to participate in a critical dialogue around issues of community. Our gerontology initiative in Upper Bucks County allows students to influence programs that address the needs of a rural population of older adults. Our specialization in Child and Family Wellbeing provides an impetus for students and practicing professionals to engage the challenges that confront individuals and families across the lifecycle.

Whether the energy that fuels each of these programs emerges from a substantive area of interest, a common geography, a commitment to shape programs, or a determination to explore a new career path, the School becomes more inclusive and vital by forging these partnerships. As we talk with our alumnae/i across the country and ask them about the most valuable aspect of their Bryn Mawr education, they cite repeatedly the strength of the integration between the field and the classroom.

Each of the programs described here and those we have highlighted in past issues introduces students and graduate social workers to a comprehensive way of understanding practice through both knowing and doing. Indeed, that is a hallmark of social work education in general and exists at the very foundation
of a Bryn Mawr social work education. The boundaries between the classroom and the surrounding communities and organizations must be permeable, and we continue to develop models of learning that assure that our students as well as the individuals, families, organizations, and communities with which they work, benefit from that cross-fertilization so integral to responsible practice.

For more information about what’s happening at the School, visit our website or give us a call at 610.520.2600

—Marcia Martin and Raymond Albert


Career Changers

In the fall of 2001, the Graduate School of Social Work began offering a five-week noncredit course, Introduction to Graduate Social Work Education, to individuals who are exploring a career change and considering a graduate degree in social work. Some prospective students may have work or volunteer experience in the social service field while others may not. The course provides an opportunity for students to learn more about social work education and the field of social work.

The course is offered three times a year, in the fall, the spring and the summer. Faculty members of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research discuss foundation content in curricular areas including: social work practice; social welfare policy; human behavior and the social environment; and research and evaluation. Students also visit several social agencies.

More than100 students have participated in the program over the past four years with 65 percent ultimately enrolling in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. With an average age of 40 years, participants have come from such diverse fields as business, law, engineering and
the arts.

Recent graduates are now employed in such settings as mental health, hospice, and program development.

Recent participants have commented:

“This has helped clarify what I want to do. I have spent the past few years trying to make a decision about graduate school/career and I finally found the answer!”

“I feel like I came in as a blank slate to social work and know enough to evaluate the program and the field now.”

“The class was a wonderful experience. It clarified my goals and inspired me at the same time.”

For more information, please visit our website.


Norristown initiative

The Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research is developing a field placement unit in Norristown, Pennsylvania, that will collaborate with Community Partnership in Action (CPIA). CPIA is a project that was established in 2003 by the College and several community-based organizations in Norristown and includes a reciprocal sharing of assets and resources.

Norristown. Photo by Paola Nogueras '84

The borough of Norristown is the county seat for Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in Pennsylvania. Norristown’s demographics, however, vary greatly from those of its home county. The median household income in Norristown is just over half that of Montgomery County. In comparison to Montgomery County, more than four times as many families living in Norristown are living below the poverty line, and the percentage of residents of color is almost five times that reported for the county as a whole.

Norristown is a geographic area of concentrated and diverse social services and will provide opportunities for clinical, management, and policy students to participate in monthly Inter-Agency Council meetings as well as monthly enhanced group supervision and integrative seminars focusing on the range of issues facing individuals, families, organizations, and the entire community. In addition, the GSSWSR anticipates that students will identify and undertake advocacy initiatives that emerge from their involvement with clients, agencies, and community groups.

Students placed in this Norristown unit will be well prepared to address broad ecological factors in their assessment of clients and organizations and will become quickly engaged in a critical dialog around issues of “community”—what is a community, who is the community, who speaks for the community, what is the difference between a neighborhood, a community, and a geographical area.

The common thread of community, and the strengths and challenges that the Norristown context provides, will be woven through the work of all students regardless of their concentration or substantive area of focus. Most importantly, this community-based practicum initiative supports the School’s continued commitment to educate social workers whose approach reflects a strong integration of practice, policy, and advocacy.


Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute

Graduates of the inaugural Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI) at their November 19, 2005 graduation ceremony. The 23 nonprofit and public sector leaders received a Certificate in Executive Leadership from the eight-month program. Below left: 2006 NELI Fellow Dwayne Wharton, who is director of Red Cross House in Philadelphia, and Raymond Albert at the opening of the 2006 NELI program on March 30. Keynote speaker was noted scholar and writer Paul C. Light, Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University, who discussed his two years of travel conducting research on the U.S. nonprofit sector. Attending the lecture were the 21 2006 NELI Fellows, their agency CEOs and members of their boards of directors, as well as graduate social work students, and graduates of the 2005 NELI Class. For more information, contact





Return to May 2006 Highlights





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