The Master of Social Work, MSW, offered by the Department of Social Sciences at Bethlehem University, is a rigorous three-year community based program that is designed specifically to meet the needs of the Palestinian society. The program has three components.
The first is a core curriculum composed of thirty four credits; it provides the students with a foundation in and understanding of the Palestinian society and its main concerns from a macro perspective. This component focuses on mezzo and macro levels of community social work.
The set of theory courses
provides the students with basic knowledge regarding community organizing, participatory approaches, and organizational leadership. The second component is composed of twelve credit hours of research. In this component, the student learns the skills and methods necessary for academic field research.
The focus is on quantitative and qualitative research methods and program evaluation. The third component is the practicum. It is composed of four one-credit courses that allow the student to practice the knowledge and skills s/he has acquired throughout the program. In addition to the basic program components, the students are expected to take four credit hours of English language and computer skills as university and program requirements.
The program is crowned with six credit hours of research to produce a master’s thesis, in which the student demonstrates knowledge of the subject and practical field research results. Once the program is completed, the student is expected to have the competence to contribute and advance the field of community social work in Palestine.
The mission of the Master in Social Work Program stems from BU’s commitment to provide Palestinians with quality education, research, scholarship, and community outreach. The program was developed in response to the need for more social workers in the due to their scarcity in the Palestinian society. The program integrates BU’s educational philosophy that fosters a pedagogical approach in producing and accumulating knowledge, and implements the concept of critical thinking to enhance leadership skills. The main mission of the Masters in Social Work Program is to graduate motivated and trained professionals who will promote the values of the social work profession and demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to address the needs of their communities and work on empowering the marginalized.
It is our aim to prepare and qualify social workers who can advance innovative and effective initiatives to empower the Palestinian community and propose remedies to its chronic psychosocial problems resulting from six decades of systematic neglect and marginalization by the Israeli the occupation. Nonetheless, it is important to focus on issues of injustice, inequality, and oppression among various social groups and classes. Our MSW Program also concentrates on the grassroots and their potential and capitalizes on their existing social capital, entrepreneurship and capacity to promote social enterprises. In order to realize this vision, the MSW Program was developed so as to promote and maintain a careful balance between research, theory, and practice.
Our goal is to lay a strong academic foundation for achieving the transformation from micro social work to macro social work practice in Palestine; by shifting the focus of social work practice from clinical treatment to community-based practice and mobilizing the resources and policy needed to achieve this goal. This core goal corresponds with the needs assessment study which was devised by the advisory committee and which aimed at identifying the needs of the developing social work profession in Palestine.
The MSW program was designed to focus on enhancing community development and leadership efforts as well as organizational capacity building of the Palestinian social service agencies. This goal can only be achieved by empowering social workers with the educational tools, knowledge, values and skills, which meet to the Palestinian community’s growing needs. This goal can only be achieved by empowering social workers with the educational tools, knowledge, values and skills, which meet the Palestinian community’s growing needs.
The graduates of the MSW program also demonstrate the following abilities to meet the program’s objectives
- Graduates are able to apply the knowledge, skills, and values of advanced social work practice with groups, organizational and community contexts of their practice settings.
- Graduates are able to critically select, appraise, and apply appropriate evidence based and practice derived knowledge to their advanced social work practice with groups, organizations, and communities.
- Graduates are able to enhance their practice effectiveness through systematic evaluation of their interventions and application of evidence-based and practice-derived knowledge.
- Graduates are able to initiate, design and implement advanced practice interventions with groups, organizations, and communities.
- Graduates are able to bring organizational efforts directed at helping poor and other powerless groups remove the sources of their oppression, such as people directly or indirectly affected by the occupations and war in Palestine.
- Graduates are able to initiate and promote new social institutions such as, self-help groups, mutual aid societies, community welfare centers, and seed banks.
- Graduates are able to initiate reform of existing institutions to make them more responsive to the needs of those whom the institutions were designed for.
- Graduates are able to generate efforts that seek to accelerate the pace of development in local communities, villages, cities, that ultimately enhance and empower the entire Palestinian society.
- Graduates are able to identify needs and interventions suitable for transitional communities, marginalized/ disadvantaged communities and groups, and communities in disasters.
- Graduates are capable to promote practices that advances social justice, through their own work and that of the larger social work profession.
- Graduates are capable to analyze sociopolitical factors that shape policy and services formation in their area of practice and influence existing policies and services.
Graduates are able to utilize their acquired knowledge and skills to organize and empower communities to improve their situation.