Mission and Philosophy of the Social Work Program

Mission: “Educating caring, skillful generalists to be ethical agents for global and local change.” The Pacific Lutheran University Department of Social Work is dedicated to educating individuals for social work practice with individuals, families, households, groups, communities and organizations within a generalist framework that is based on a philosophy of social justice, egalitarianism, pluralism, and compassion for the oppressed.

The historical mission of the social work profession is dedicated to both personal development and social change; to the enhancement of individual, group, and community problem-solving capacities; and to the design and construction of a society committed to social justice and compassion for oppressed, vulnerable, and diverse populations. Professional education that prepares practitioners to pursue such a mission effectively must encourage not only intellectual rigor and professional ethics and standards, but also the qualities of courage, commitment, and compassion. It must prepare professionals for direct practice as well as providing them with knowledge and experience as they relate to group, community, and organizational structures.

Contemporary social work education and practice are grounded in the profession’s social purpose, which calls for a dual, simultaneous focus on the strengths of individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities as forces for growth and social change and on those organizational structures and social systems that provide the context for human growth, interaction, and change. Social work’s person-in-environment approach reflects its emphasis on the ecological perspective, which provides an adaptive and evolutionary view of human beings in constant interchange with all aspects of their social environments.

The Social Work education at Pacific Lutheran University draws on the liberal arts. We recognize that social issues and social problems are always complex, interconnected, and interrelated. Therefore, social work education is strengthened and enriched by a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective on social problems, social issues, and social inventions. It encourages a commitment to informed social action to remove structurally-based inequities and the use of a multi-method, evidence-informed approach to social work practice in order to meet a wide range of individual, family, group, organizational, and community

PLU’s MSW Program Mission

The mission of the Master’s in Social Work Program at Pacific Lutheran University is to prepare skilled, ethical, professional service-oriented leaders and change agents who work toward just, equitable, and empowerment-based service provision, policies, and systems on local and global levels. The program emphasizes critical consciousness, critical thinking, scientific inquiry, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive theories and methods to promote social, economic, and environmental justice and advance human rights and well-being, particularly in underserved and marginalized communities.

The mission and objectives of the MSW program are based on the purpose and values of the social work profession such as integrity, dignity and worth of humankind, respect for human diversity, the significance of human relationships, and the importance of viewing problems and solutions through a person-in-environment lens. The mission and objectives of the MSW program articulate how students will be prepared to competently and effectively engage in change work in various political, geographical, socioeconomic, and other settings.