About this Specialization

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Flexible Schedule

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Beginner Level

A basic understanding of US government. Concerns about the needs of fellow residents. Interest in understanding the US social policy system

Approx. 2 months to complete

Suggested 6 hours/week

English

Subtitles: English...

What you will learn

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    Compare historical, intellectual and cross-national perspectives on the size, structure and outcomes of U.S. social policy

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    Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. social welfare policy and its economic, social, and political contexts, in order to be an engaged citizen

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    Differentiate the various levels and structures of public benefits, and the social justice impact on people receiving them

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    Formulate skills in social policy implementation in order to be more effective in professional practice

Skills you will gain

Formulate practice strategies to overcome the historic biases in social welfare programsdistinguish the values inherent in each social policy initiativedifferentiate alternative approaches to social policy problemsCritique components of a social policy based on their effectiveness at meeting the goals stated in the initiativedevelop social welfare policy analysis and reform proposals

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible Schedule

Set and maintain flexible deadlines.

Beginner Level

A basic understanding of US government. Concerns about the needs of fellow residents. Interest in understanding the US social policy system

Approx. 2 months to complete

Suggested 6 hours/week

English

Subtitles: English...

How the Specialization Works

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Hands-on Project

Every Specialization includes a hands-on project. You'll need to successfully finish the project(s) to complete the Specialization and earn your certificate. If the Specialization includes a separate course for the hands-on project, you'll need to finish each of the other courses before you can start it.

Earn a Certificate

When you finish every course and complete the hands-on project, you'll earn a Certificate that you can share with prospective employers and your professional network.

how it works

There are 5 Courses in this Specialization

Course1

What Is the Welfare State? A Cross-National Comparison

In all nations, social policy is a very large public investment. Course 1 will explore the size, structure, and outcomes of U.S. social policy and compare this policy to those of similar developed countries. The course will also probe the values this policy represents and the values debate regarding about how big our welfare state should be— in other words, how much of our education, housing, health, income support, and social services the government should supply and how much individuals should supply for themselves. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments....
Course2

The Welfare State: Where Did It Come From?

The course probes the formation of social policy in the United States from its very first cultural and religious roots. Starting with the transition from hunter-gatherer groups to agrarian villages, the course will examine the passage of the Poor Laws that shaped social policy through the colonial period until the beginnings of the 20th century, when the challenge of making the industrial city livable gave rise to the development of the welfare state. As part of this transformation, the provider of social welfare shifted from the local community to the state to the federal government. The course ends with an exploration of the debate regarding the role of government in the late 20th century: should it foster entitlements or self-sufficiency? This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments....
Course3

Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy

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This course has four modules, or foci. The first is to understand the categories of social welfare—populations, income, earnings, and assets— and some related concepts that play a very large role in shaping policy decisions: unemployment, inflation, and the minimum wage. The second deals with the central institution of social welfare—the labor market, which largely determines how many resources a person has. The labor market also establishes hierarchy, both through meritocracy and through categories of privilege. The third is poverty: the differing ways we define who is poor, and how effective U.S. anti-poverty efforts have been. The final module looks directly at federal decision making, the political organization of ideas, the structure of U.S. government, and the legislative process that shapes much of our social policy. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments....
Course4

Income Transfer Policies for Families, People with Disabilities, and the Aging Population

Course 4 discusses four populations: families, poor families, people with disabilities, and people as they age. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. -The first module identifies the needs of children and the role of the state in child development. We will explore changes in the family and the resulting debates about how to best support families and child development. We’ll appraise family leave and child care programs for their role in supporting paid work and in strengthening child development, as well as income support efforts including the child tax credit and proposals for a family allowance. -The second module begins with a description of child poverty—both the forces leading to it, and its effects. This module also describes public support programs and critiques the debates surrounding them. -The third module focuses on persons living with disabilities, evaluating the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. We will also critique the processes of establishing a disability social insurance program and the public aid programs that make people with disabilities eligible for income support and health support. -The final module begins with a report on the aging of the U.S. population. Building on this, we’ll examine social insurance programs and public aid programs for seniors for their longterm viability, and assess the various reforms that have been proposed to stabilize these programs. The course is part of a sequence in social policy that has an HONORS TRACK. This track will prepare the learner for masters-level work in policy, which involves reading the literature, writing concise summaries and probing critiques. Over the sequence the learner will develop a policy analysis that will create a foundation for professional policy analyst assignments....

Instructor

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John Robertson

Policy Lecturer
School of Social Work, Columbia University in New York City

About Columbia University

For more than 250 years, Columbia has been a leader in higher education in the nation and around the world. At the core of our wide range of academic inquiry is the commitment to attract and engage the best minds in pursuit of greater human understanding, pioneering new discoveries and service to society....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes! To get started, click the course card that interests you and enroll. You can enroll and complete the course to earn a shareable certificate, or you can audit it to view the course materials for free. When you subscribe to a course that is part of a Specialization, you’re automatically subscribed to the full Specialization. Visit your learner dashboard to track your progress.

  • This course is completely online, so there’s no need to show up to a classroom in person. You can access your lectures, readings and assignments anytime and anywhere via the web or your mobile device.

  • Yes, the courses are in order

  • If you complete the honors requirements and register in the Masters of Social Work program at the Columbia University School of Social Work, you will be given credit for this course

  • Yes, learners can interact in the discussion forums.

  • The United States has an ongoing national debate about the welfare state and the role of government. This sequence tries to present both sides, but it springs from the pro government point of view that believes the welfare state is essential in the modern world.

  • -Any educator, government employee, or health or social service provider

    -Concerned citizens who want to know more about the U.S. social welfare system

    -Learners with the skills to analyze and synthesize a great deal of information

    -Learners with the willingness to expand their views of social welfare policy

    -For the HONORS course, learners with skills to develop a topic, complete research, and interpret findings

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.