From the beginning of its interest in undergraduate instruction, the Council on Social Work Education has stressed the importance of a broad liberal education for baccalaureate social workers . Such emphasis was restated twice in subsequent CSWE documents, and more recently in other materials which enunciate the standards for the new undergraduate accreditation process commencing in 1974. It is much easier to state the notion of a general education than it is to describe its content and character and there is a tendency to become ambiguous. We are prone to resort to a high level of generalization in characterizing a "general education" and in delineating its parameters. When discussants do achieve specificity and become explicit, then lack of consensus often appears, e.g., should or should it not include foreign language, the fine arts, natural science, and so forth. It is nonetheless important that serious consideration be given to this matter since the majority of social workers in the nation continue to be persons holding only the undergraduate degree.
In the study reported here there has been the attempt to examine what content, in fact, has been part of the student's formal work as an undergraduate. No presumption is made that such courses collectively constitute an ideal liberal education, whatever that may be, but rather hopefully it will be instructive as to what has happened recently in one social work program in a school which purports to be liberal arts in orientation and is, perhaps, fairly representative of baccalaureate programs. The question is restricted to formalized courses per se, not because this is all of education within a college or university nor necessarily the majority of it, but because it is easiest and most feasible to objectify and survey. This writer is convinced that much education and learning, perhaps most, takes place outside the academic paraphernalia of courses, classrooms, texts, and lectures, but this larger experience almost escapes measurement because of its fluid and open qualities.
Johnson, H. Wayne
"Electives and Undergraduate Social Work Education in a State University,"
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 1
, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol1/iss4/7