Transformative Social Work

Transformative social work is the main concentration of the MSW Program. It is formed by weaving together three philosophical strands: 1) human rights and social justice, 2) a strengths perspective, and 3) social constructionism. Intertwined, these strands form a commitment to the traditions of our profession and the relational, profound and generative elements of transformative social work.

Transformative social work explores the promise of social work as 1) a relational practice that provides welcoming and reliable contexts for individuals of all ages, families, groups, communities and organizations to explore the unprecedented challenges they face with dignity and respect, 2) a profound practice that understands and engages an ever broader array of viable solutions to inform meaninful change, 3) a generative practice that meets the challenges of people through a full range of of policy, research and direct social work initiatives that seek national and global as well as local influence.

A transformative social work engagement of human suffering and social problems places UVM social work graduate students at the intersection of innovative theorizing, creative policy and practice advances, and an assemblage of viable contexts for helping individuals, families and local and global communities.

Program Features

Vermont’s progressive traditions and predominantly rural character offer unique opportunities for student practice within small grass roots organizations, as well as in more traditional state human service agency and private non-profit agency settings. Our program emphasizes community and family-centered practice through a variety of professional roles and such diverse settings as schools, medical centers, mental health centers, government agencies, and community based organizations.

Small classes and accessible faculty make the learning experience at UVM exciting, relevant, and rewarding. Students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty on research, community projects, and through independent study. A student body of less than 70 graduate students fosters relationships that support a student’s educational experience and can lead to life long professional associations.

Our students are diverse in age, background, life experience, and come from all parts of the United States . Each entering class traditionally includes people just entering the field, people making career changes at mid-life, and experienced practitioners who are returning to school for education to enhance their career in human services. Many of our students have international experience. Most choose the MSW program at UVM for its unique commitment to social justice, human rights, strengths oriented practice, and critical social construction, as well as for its reputation for scholarship.

Faculty Expertise

Our faculty is nationally and internationally recognized for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and practice. Particular areas of interest and expertise of our faculty include:

  • Aging
  • Child Welfare
  • Culturally Sensitive Practice
  • Feminist Practice
  • Gender and Family Violence
  • Human Rights
  • International Social Work
  • Inter-Professional Collaboration
  • School Social Work
  • Social Construction Social Justice
  • Social Work in Health Care
  • Social Work in a Global Context
  • Social Work in Mental Health
  • The Strengths Perspective
  • Teamwork and Participatory Decision Making
  • Welfare to Work Policies
  • Social Work Education