If you’re strongly committed to social justice and working with people to help them find solutions, social work may be the ideal field for you. Social workers often serve people whose problems are closely related to being on the margins of society, for many reasons. Private problems often have social dimensions. Addressing those is a core component of social work, often through roles in mental health and counseling, corrections and criminal justice work, hospital social work, school social work, child welfare, community work and policy change, work with domestic violence, work with youth and families, etc.
Social work requires good listening skills, ability to think critically and willingness to collaborate with others to help people improve themselves and their lives. Social work is both demanding and rewarding. People are incredibly interesting, and social workers are privileged to learn from those they assist.
Social work requires the knowledge and skills to work with human systems (individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities) to enhance people’s problem-solving skills; connect them with resources; make resource systems more responsive; and create new resources when none exist. An underlying objective of social work is to help marginalized people achieve social and economic justice.
If you study social work at Bethel College, you’ll gain a heightened awareness of the social inequality and social justice issues that are often behind personal issues and problems. Personal and family problems frequently reflect larger public issues – you’ll find ways to identify and begin to remedy those issues.
Social work rests on the liberal arts as a foundation for understanding humans in the context of their social, cultural and economic environment. The liberal arts also help you develop skills necessary to be an effective professional social worker: oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to think analytically and synthesize information from a variety of sources.
Our graduates are highly sought after by employers. Through our network of faculty contacts with professional social workers, we can link you with internship placements as well as potential professional positions.
Some distinguishing characteristics of Bethel’s social work program are:
- A record of excellence among employers for preparation of graduates – employers have noted that our graduates are especially well prepared for ethical practice as well as in assessment and intervention planning.
- Research and practice partnerships with local organizations and agencies that take advantage of the community as a learning lab.
- Local, national and international internship settings, through which every graduate has the opportunity to develop professional competence.
- Being able to develop expertise—and earn a certificate—in conflict resolution along with a Bethel social work major, ideal for those interested in restorative/criminal justice.
- Practice-based senior thesis research, through which you can be mentored individually by a member of the social work faculty.
- Experiential learning opportunities—locally and in Mexico—about social injustice, with marginalized populations.
The Bethel social work program’s mission is to prepare social workers whose practice embodies the following core values:
- an ethic of discipleship that creates a compassionate presence in solidarity with marginalized people;
- an ethic of service that equips the social worker to help people solve problems in their daily lives;
- an ethic of scholarship that strives for continued excellence in social work practice;
- an ethic of integrity that is a social worker’s foundation for holistic personal and professional relationships;
- an ethic of community that values social connectivity and shared endeavor with others;
- an ethic of peace and social justice that builds commitment to a peaceful and just society;
- an ethic of diversity that prizes all individuals for their unique combination of heritage, personality and talents.
The primary objectives of the social work program are:
- to prepare graduates for entry into professional practice
- to prepare graduates for continued social work education at the graduate level
- to provide opportunities for continuing education for practicing social workers and other human service professionals