Courses and Programs

SP2 offers a number of opportunities for students to engage globally and focus on international issues during their course of study. Students may choose from SP2 courses with a global perspective, SP2 courses that take place in other countries, formal linkage programs with other universities, international independent studies, and other opportunities.

Global Courses

A number of SP2 courses take place in global locations. An application is required for global courses. Once a student is accepted to a course, they will be contacted with information about enrolling.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, planning for global courses in Academic Year 2020-2021 is on hold.


MSSP 797: Whose Colony? Politics, Identity and Social Policy in Revolutionary Cuba (1959-2017)

This course is designed to provide students with the critical and analytical tools to dissect Cuban revolutionary politics, policies, and identity mutations within the island’s historical trajectory. It analyzes the notion of Independence – upon which Castro relied to gather massive support – in the context of the 60’s debates on decolonization and underdevelopment, the theoretical foundations of the Revolution, and Fidel Castro’s vision for Cuba. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to critically read and discuss main Cuban social policies such as its famous Literacy Campaign, and other Education, Housing, Cultural, Health, and Immigration policies, as well as the island’s complex relationship with technological development and communications. The course also includes study of identity and race dynamics, which are inextricably embedded in Cuba’s political landscape.

Read more about MSSP 797.


SWRK 748: Microfinance and Women’s Empowerment in India

This course examines microfinance and its engagement with marginalized communities, such as those in India. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the phenomena of microfinance and its role in poverty alleviation. By studying the use of self-help groups with NGO facilitation, their impact on women’s empowerment will be examined and understood through interaction with women engaged in microfinance activities.

Read more about SWRK 748.

SWRK 772: Postcolonial Social Work Practice: International Social Welfare in India

Pre-approved for the Global Human Rights certificate.

In this course, students examine the global welfare system and its engagement with marginalized communities. This six-week course in Kolkata, India, centers around a sex workers’ collaborative in Sonagachi, one of Asia’s largest red light districts. Interviews with the collaborative’s workers and study of their grassroots movement are combined with class discussions and research projects in which students engage with texts on HIV, sex work, feminist postcolonial theory and international social work.

Read more about SWRK 772.


SWRK 749: Civil Society Addressing Conflict in Israel/Palestine

Pre-approved for the Global Human Rights certificate.

SWRK 749 offers a unique opportunity to experience the challenges and complexities of coexistence in Israel, the Holy Land for Christians, Jews and Muslims; a key point of interest and dispute for the international community, and the homeland shared and claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. The course will focus on activities carried out by nonprofit organizations operating within the Israeli civil society, dealing with issues related to co-existence and to the protection and advancement of the civil and social rights of different populations, with special emphasis on the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel. These activities include educational and social services programs, community work and advocacy activities, aimed at creating dialogues and building co-existence among the different populations in the Israeli society and in Palestine.

Read more about SWRK 749.


NPLD 752: Social Impact and Enterprise in Kenya

This is a course for those who are interested in becoming social entrepreneurs, particularly in developing countries.  It will reveal the nuances of operationalizing these ventures and provide a business toolkit for designing and launching a social venture.  The course will equally be topical for those who are simply interested in better understanding the innerworkings and implications of this fast-growing and alluring model of alleviating poverty and disease.

Read more about NPLD 752.

The Netherlands

NPLD 750: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Partnerships and Practices

NPLD 750 examines the relationship between business and society using the prevalent framework of corporate social responsibility (CSR) with a focus on corporate philanthropy. The large question that we focus on is “What is the responsibility of business to society, if any?” We examine how it is conceptualized, its practice, the societal partnerships forged, and its impact. Businesses performing philanthropic activity often use their platform of CSR activities to engage with society, directly, via a corporate foundation, or through partnerships with nonprofit organizations. Although such philanthropic activities are not directly related to profit-making ventures, they may boost their reputation, be used in marketing their products, talent recruitment, increase employee engagement and commitment, and thus contribute to the profit indirectly. Many businesses undertake their CSR related philanthropic activities using strategic partnerships with nonprofits or public sector organizations to meet their goals. This provides opportunities to nonprofit and public sector leaders in achieving social and sustainable change.

Read more about NPLD 750.


SWRK 798: Social Work in a Global Context

Not offered in 2020. The International Summer program in Rovaniemi, Finland, provides a unique opportunity for students and professionals in social work and related human service fields to explore the meanings, practices and implications of social work and social welfare from a global perspective. A multinational cohort of students and faculty create an enriching environment for expanding and deepening understanding of global issues. Through lectures, small group discussions, agency visits, excursions, and informal interaction, students and instructors from different countries learn about the issues and challenges faced by human services professions and organizations and the innovative programs to meet and enhance individual and social life. In addition, participants have opportunities to learn about the progressive social welfare system and social work services in Finland.

Read more about SWRK 798.


NPLD 751: Widening the Aperture: Assessing Global Social Impact Interventions

Not offered in 2020. This course offers students a unique, experience-based opportunity to assess an organization’s work from afar, then on the ground in Malawi. The course will provide students with a practical framework for analyzing social impact interventions through three important and complementary lenses: sector practice, environmental factors and organizational implementation. Students will use the immersive travel experience in Malawi to engage directly with a service organization to apply the framework. They will also use data collected about these organizations through the Lipman Family Prize selection process, a University of Pennsylvania-based social impact prize, combined with their own research, both primary and secondary, to better understand the organizations, staff, and forces influencing the intervention.

Puerto Rico

SWRK 788: Harm Reduction on the Borders: Substance Use and HIV Treatment in Puerto Rico

Not offered in 2020. This course examines the U.S.-based substance use and HIV treatment system, and its engagement with injection drug users in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. It is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the political economy of harm reduction initiatives, and the manner in which it is shaped by the complicated relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. Students are expected to gain an understanding of Puerto Rico’s welfare environment, the role of social welfare and social workers in such a context, and the interweaving of social control and social change embedded in welfare initiatives in “borderlands” such as Fajardo. During the four week course in Fajardo, students will complete a placement in a needle exchange program, and engage with texts on HIV, substance use, postcolonial theory and international social work.

Courses at SP2

Students interested in international issues may choose to take a semester-long course on Penn’s campus. These classes provide a global focus without the need to leave Philadelphia.

SWRK 755: International Social Work: Practicing in the Global South

Pre-approved course for the Global Human Rights Certificate. This interdisciplinary course will introduce students to societal problems in the developing world; familiarize them with global professions in social work, education, public health, etc.; and help prepare them for overseas/cross-cultural practice. Through the course students will identify numerous strategies and skills social workers and other professionals have used to collaboratively build interventions within the human rights, social welfare, education, health care and sustainable community development arenas. The course will expose students to views of development as they relate to individual, interpersonal, family, community, societal and international change. Students will learn about the history of specific global problems, how cultures affect response, different social services delivery systems, and initiatives aimed at resolution. Students will explore a specific development issue within a country and community.

Students who have taken this course have come from graduate programs in Bioethics, Social Policy, Social Work, Education, Liberal Arts, African Studies, Law, Public Health, Nursing, and Engineering.

SWRK 763: Global Human Rights and US Immigration: Implications for Policy & Practice

Pre-approved course for the Global Human Rights Certificate. This course will begin with the history of migration to the US, as well as legal definitions of newcomers, including obtaining documents for lawful permanent residence, refugee status, as well as grounds for exclusion and deportation, and paths to naturalized citizenship. We will then review how a framework of cultural competence, and a strength or asset-based approach can inform service to immigrant clients. The core portion of the course will then focus first on the intersection of immigrants and health, mental health, employment, crimes, public entitlements, and public education.  The course will conclude with family issues relevant to immigrant families: women, children, lesbian and gay, and elderly immigrants. Public policy issues will be integrated throughout, and the course will end with specific suggestions on systems change at various levels.   By the end of the course students should be able to identify strategies for individual clients advocacy (micro); agency and community strategies (mezzo), and  government advocacy (macro) to empower immigrant clients to become full community participants.

NPLD 582: NGOs and International Development

The first part of the course offers a broad perspective on development, aid, and the role of NGOs. The latter half of the course focuses on issues in NGO management: fundraising, staff (expatriate and local), monitoring and evaluation (including randomized controlled trials). The course is aimed at students with zero to moderate experience in international development, but students with extensive work experience with NGOs or development work are also welcome.

Other Opportunities

Eligibility: Eligible students must be enrolled in the MSW, MSSP, or NPL program, fluent in Spanish, and interested in doing research.

The goal of this initiative is to conduct a formative evaluation of an NGO program that provides training in information and communication technologies for low-income women. Through the systematic involvement of the SP2’s faculty and master’s degree students, participants will create an evaluation system to assess the success of a Venezuela-based NGO and build a measurement instrument that will help the organization in achieving greater efficacy and long-term sustainability.

The initiative will include three research fellows, one from each SP2 Masters degree program (MSW, MSSP, and NPL). The research fellows will work with Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Román throughout the academic year doing research on Venezuela and the NGO program. Then, in the Summer of 2016, the research fellows will join Professor Dixon-Román in Venezuela for a month-long research experience. Under the direction of Dr. Dixon-Roman, students will receive 1 course credit for an independent study on evaluation research in Latin America. (MSW students may fulfill the Research Option requirement with this independent study.) Travel expenses for the Venezuela portion of the trip will be covered. Research fellows will also be provided with a stipend during the academic year in order to cover their worktime. Students pay regular course tuition for the independent study.

Penn’s Global Research & Internship Program (GRIP) provides opportunities for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to intern or conduct research  abroad for eight to twelve weeks over the summer. GRIP partners with for-profit, non-profit and non-governmental organizations around the world. Each intern will receive an award to offset their internship-related expenses, funded by the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, students who have already secured an internship or research opportunity abroad can apply for funding.

Learn more about Penn’s Global Research & Internship Program.

About the Opportunity
The Botswana-UPenn Partnership offers ten-week summer internships in Botswana from late May until late July for approximately 2-4 Penn students across various schools at Penn. Through Penn’s Global Internship Program, one of the internship sites is Stepping Stones International in Botswana, and preference is given to 1-2 SP2 students.

SP2 students who are accepted to the internship at Stepping Stones International may be able to receive course credit for one elective in the form of an independent study, with permission from Dr. Joretha Bourjolly. Independent studies require formal course registration and tuition is at the same rate as a regular course.

About Stepping Stones International
Stepping Stones International is an innovative after school and community outreach program serving orphaned and vulnerable adolescents (ages 12-18+) and their caregivers. SSI’s Mission is to unlock the potential of orphaned and vulnerable adolescents by nurturing their mental, physical and emotional well-being and creating realizable opportunities for them to become self-sufficient. Located in the village of Mochudi about 45 minutes commute from Gaborone, the program is the only initiative in Botswana that focuses exclusively on the underserved needs of teenagers. SSI works with local school counselors to identify teens who under-perform academically, have lost one or both parents, have experienced abuse at home, and or their basic needs are unmet. SSI uses a holistic program model, which combines life skills, leadership, psychosocial support and community mobilization to enable youth to heal the scars of the past, reconnect with their lost childhood, while growing into self-sufficient young adults.

Additional information is available on the Botswana-UPenn partnership page.

Program Dates: visit the ACCE website for upcoming offerings.

The Language and Cultural Immersion Program for Social Workers, offered by Academia Centroamericana de Espanol (ACCE), is a two week program that takes place in Costa Rica several times per year. The program gives social workers “the opportunity to improve their Spanish language skills, enhance their cultural competency, and learn about the social work profession in Costa Rica.” During the two-weeks, students spend 40 hours in language classes and 16 hours in cultural classes and activities, attend lectures about the Latin culture, and visit local social work agencies.

Students may choose to participate in this program without linking it to their SP2 degree program. In these situations, students will not receive course credit for the program, will not be assessed any tuition or fees by SP2, and will not be eligible for a travel award. Students who wish to receive course credit towards an SP2 elective will need to enroll in an SP2 Independent Study under the supervision of Dr. Joretha Bourjolly. In these situations, students will pay tuition for 1 CU at SP2 in addition to the ACCE program fees. In these situations, students are eligible for the SP2 travel award.

ACCE usually offers two or three sessions per year and the program dates vary. It is possible that some or all of the yearly ACCE sessions will overlap with the SP2 academic calendar and conflict with the start or end of classes as well as required field placement days. In all cases, students may not miss class or field placement for the ACCE program without permission from their instructors and the Office of Field Education. Students who are interested in session dates that have minor overlap with the academic calendar should begin by contacting their academic advisor.

    The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships program provides allocations of academic year and summer fellowships to institutions of higher education or consortia of institutions of higher education to assist meritorious undergraduate students and graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and related area or international studies or with the international aspects of professional or fields of study.

    The goals of the fellowship program are:

    • To assist in the development of knowledge, resources, and trained personnel for modern foreign language and area or international studies.
    • To foster foreign language acquisition and fluency.
    • To develop a domestic pool of international experts to meet national needs.

    FLAS fellowships are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the University of Pennsylvania’s Title VI National Resource Centers to assist students in acquiring foreign language and either area or international studies competencies, including the international aspects of professional or other fields of study. FLAS awards are available only for specific languages, and are contingent on federal funding. Please direct any questions to the FLAS Coordinator of your chosen language.

    Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applications by students in professional fields are encouraged. Preference will be given to applicants with a high level of academic ability and with previous language training.  Academic Year and Summer FLAS awards are two separate competitions requiring two complete and separate applications.

    Students receiving Academic Year Fellowships must be enrolled in full-time study for the duration of the FLAS award and must take one language course and one related area or international studies course each semester. Academic Year Fellows must be admitted to or enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, or professional programs at the University of Pennsylvania. FLAS awards may be used in some cases for students participating in official overseas language programs and in very limited cases for dissertators.

    Summer Fellowships are for intensive language programs either domestically or abroad and require a separate application from the Academic Year Fellowship (minimum contact hours and duration of summer courses are outlined in the FLAS FAQ section).

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