The Handbook of Community Practice


Edited by: Marie Weil, Michael Reisch & Mary L. Ohmer

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: The Context of Community Practice

    Part II: Major Approaches to Community Practice: Development, Organizing, Social Planning, and Social Change

    Part III: Issues, Areas, and Fields of Community Practice

    Part IV: Global Issues and Approaches

    Part V: Community-Based Organizations, Community Building, Service Coordination, Program Design, and Resource Development

    Part VI: Research, Evaluation, and the Use of Technology in Community Practice

  • Dedication

    To those current and future students who will carry on community practice—in work to foster social and economic development, in mutual work with people to improve the conditions and quality of their lives, to advance the profession's mission to press unwaveringly for human rights, and to work always toward social justice.


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    MarieWeil, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Community practice has been an integral part of social work since its inception in the Settlement House Movement and Charity Organization Societies in the Global North in response to pressures caused by the Industrial Revolution. In the Global South, community practice as a formal process typically began in reaction to the pressures of colonization and efforts to rebuild communities and societies in its wake. Across both hemispheres, community practice—in its grassroots organizing, interagency planning, and social justice aspects—engages citizens in problem-solving work to improve quality of life for vulnerable groups and communities and enacts the profession's social justice mission through a variety of practice models, from community development to political action. While practice emphases varied in many nations over the course of the 20th century—sometimes with greater focus on organizing services, grassroots organizing, planning, or social action—the essential purposes of strengthening communities and services and pressing for access, equality, empowerment, and social justice have not wavered.

    Indeed, community practice is expanding globally in the 21st century. At the same time, major new contexts are developing that will impact community practice work everywhere: the increasing interaction of multiple cultures within and among nations; the continuing struggle to make human rights for everyone—including women and children—a reality throughout the world; and the far-reaching impact of globalization on the poor and working classes in both the Global South and North. Many practice strategies are likely to prove tried and true, others will need modifications for diverse settings or changing populations, and doubtless new strategies will be developed in the future as needed.

    All communities are and will continue to be affected by the global economy and by the social, economic, and political shifts that will continue interactively. Community practitioners will need to be cognizant, proactive, and seriously engaged to bring forth close global connections that support human and sustainable development, rather than witnessing the increase of already-evident risks and damage to local economies, social structures, and the environment. Community practice approaches, from grassroots organizing to policy and social action, must take into account new complexities, challenges, and opportunities in this period of unparalleled global change. Indeed, community practice is the critical component of the profession that can help citizens, groups, communities, and organizations enlarge civil society, increase grassroots political clout, advocate for human rights, and work for positive social change to support those most disadvantaged by macro changes.

    This second edition of The Handbook of Community Practice has been reorganized and reworked, and many new chapters have been added to present a strong global perspective supported by knowledge, theory, and practice examples from the Global South and North. This book is intended to assist current and future community practice, social work, and community development students, faculty, and practitioners in many parts of the world as they confront the challenges posed in the coming decades. It is also intended to help students in industrialized nations understand and recognize how much they have to learn from practice, theory, and knowledge developed in industrializing nations. Likewise, it is intended to provide current knowledge and theory from industrialized and post-industrial nations, marked by concerns and practices that stress inclusion, social justice, and human rights concerns that recognize the critical importance of local knowledge and contexts, free of the academic imperialism that has presumed other nations should follow Western-developed approaches to practice (Dominelli, 2007; Hall & Midgley, 2004; Midgley, 1997). There is much to be gained through mutual and egalitarian transnational learning, and while much more sharing, knowledge building, and research are needed, this handbook seeks to establish and encourage this transnational and mutual approach to learning and testing practice approaches.

    The first edition of this text was encouraged by Jim Nageotte (then SAGE's human services editor) and Professor Charles Garvin of the University of Michigan. I greatly appreciate the work of the authors for the first edition and particularly the writing and excellent initial editing of selected chapters by associate editors Michael Reisch, Dorothy N. Gamble, Lorraine Gutiérrez, Elizabeth A. Mulroy, and Ram A. Cnaan. The positive response to the book owes much to the quality of their work. Happily, SAGE has made the original edition of the handbook available online through libraries so that readers can continue to refer to it and faculty can access chapters for their classes.

    Given the very positive reception of the first edition of this text and the need for such a community practice volume to provide greater focus on global issues and broader ranges of theory, practice, and knowledge, I was delighted when Kassie Graves, senior acquisitions editor for SAGE, proposed a second edition. Kassie has been unfailing in her encouragement and support of this work. One could not hope to work with a more knowledgeable and skilled editorial team than Kassie, Megan Granger, and Libby Larson.

    Most especially, I am immensely appreciative of the creative chapter development and astute editing of Michael Reisch of the University of Maryland at Baltimore and Mary L. Ohmer of Georgia State University, who graciously consented to serve as associate editors for the second edition. Their intellect, extensive knowledge, commitment, and editorial skill made them outstanding partners in the development of this text. They assisted in author selection, offered support in chapter planning, and reviewed and edited multiple drafts of numerous chapters for this edition, providing support for authors and excellent editorial skills. I extend heartfelt thanks to Mary and Michael for their work and to the contributors to the second edition, who expanded the concept of the book and deepened the knowledge, theory, and practice examples for students.

    Chapter Authors

    A total of 66 distinguished authors contributed to this second edition, with some involved in more than one chapter. With regard to multinational experience, 8 authors were born or now live in nations other than the United States. These authors all have experience working in multiple nations. A number of authors from the United States have considerable experience in multinational practice, teaching, and research; at least 20 have been involved in international work, and 1 works full-time for an international nongovernmental organization.

    While a number of the authors are university faculty, these are not ivory tower people. Almost all are involved in work with communities, groups, and organizations, or advocacy and policy practice. Some are guiding comprehensive neighborhood initiatives. Several have developed research and study centers that tie them to communities in multiple nations. One has developed a women's community organizing center that supports organizers in communication and collaborative work. Several have been called on to conduct research on asset development in multiple nations; a number have led study-abroad programs; several have taught in countries other than their own; some have been involved in multinational research for international organizations; and many have been involved in volunteer consultation for organizations in multiple countries. They bring extensive knowledge and practice experience to their writing.

    To heighten the focus on the realities of practice, this second edition has added more practitioner authors who bring current, on-the-ground experience to vital areas of community practice. Sixteen second-edition authors are experienced practitioners/leaders: Six of these are CEOs or directors of nonprofit organizations they founded and built, and others lead nonprofit development programs. Still others work as community organizers, advocates, and program and organizational consultants, and one is assistant to the president of a national U.S. labor union. At least 14 contributing authors are now or have previously been heads of university research, policy, or practice-research centers, and another 10 have led complex university/community partnership development and research programs.

    In addition to international representation, some of the diversity of the U.S. population is represented, including American Indians, Latino/as, African Americans, and Indian Americans, as well as others from the myriad ethnicity and nationality groups that make up the U.S. population. While a full survey has not been taken, the table below reflects some of the nations in which contributors to the book have worked or volunteered.

    This second edition has provided these contributors the opportunity to compose a comprehensive summary of their favorite subjects and practice areas. In combination, the handbook builds strongly on the earlier literature on community practice and on theory and perspectives from multiple nations. Michael Reisch, Mary L. Ohmer, and I have worked to ensure that the second edition builds on the current literature and presents both the breadth and depth of community practice.

    As a result, this volume provides unprecedented opportunities (1) to examine the range of practice methods employed currently in community interventions; (2) to consider the political, economic, social, and global shifts affecting and changing the context of practice across the world; (3) to explore theory and practice theorizing; and (4) to analyze ways in which knowledge, methodology, and research can provide direction and inform leaders, facilitators, community members, and practitioners about ways to strengthen communities and service systems as well as to organize, plan, and act for needed change. Authors have critically examined knowledge, theory, practice, and methods, and have worked to define and interpret emerging issues that future students, practitioners, scholars, and researchers will need to confront in coming years.

    Organization of the Book

    The handbook is organized into six sections. Part I provides analysis of the contexts of community practice and presents central issues that impact the practitioner's work. Four new chapters introduce this edition. Chapter 1 examines global contexts and a range of issues facing community practitioners across the world. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the complex history of community development, organizing, and planning in the United States. Chapter 3 analyzes challenges in the global economy for both the Global South and North, and Chapter 4 probes central issues and principles of social justice, human rights, and values that can assist community practitioners in determining courses of action. Two new theory chapters conclude this section: Chapter 5 analyzes theories of community and provides essential knowledge, and Chapter 6 explores types of theories that relate to and support practice, as well as central practice theories of development, organizing, planning, and social change. Beginning with relevant explanatory theory, the process of theorizing, and the importance of applying critical perspectives, this chapter moves to examination of theory focused on scales of intervention—from interpersonal to inter-organizational—through which practitioners engage members of communities and organizations. The chapter concludes with central practice theory for major methods of community practice and the process of moving theories into action.

    Part II begins with the evolution of practice models in Chapter 7 and specifically examines eight current models used in many parts of the world and adapted for local context and issues. These models relate to organizing; community, social, economic, and sustainable development; program and service development; social planning, coalition building, political and social action, and policy practice; and movements for progressive change. Analysis of each model is provided, along with discussion of outcomes, change strategies, constituencies, and scope of concern as well as identification of major roles needed for effective practice in each model. Chapter 8 presents a vital history of development theory and development work infused with knowledge and critical perspective from the Global South. It provides historical analysis of the outcomes of application of particular theories and carefully analyzes whose interests were met by dominant theories, some of which emerged in conjunction with colonial exploitation or followed colonialist ideologies. Chapter 9 presents central issues of practice for sustainable development to promote progressive social and economic change and environmental protection of the earth for future generations. Chapters 10 and 11 examine contemporary community organizing practice—one compares and contrasts conflict and consensus approaches, and the other provides examples and issues related to organizing in communities of color. Chapters 12 and 13 examine social planning, the first presenting theory and case examples of planning with communities and the second illustrating principles and examples of larger-scale planning in communities and cities, as well as particular issues related to planning for service development. Both these chapters take a global perspective, providing examples from both the Global North and South.

    The next five chapters (Chapters 1418) examine practice to promote progressive social change. Chapter 14 addresses essential participatory methods that are adaptable to many practice settings and ground practice with those who have been marginalized. Chapter 15 focuses on strategies for social, political, and legislative action. Chapter 16 skillfully differentiates radical community organizing from other types and illustrates the need for practitioners to employ strategies and tactics that address root causes of major social problems. The increasing importance and methods of practice in coalitions, collaborations, and partnerships are analyzed in Chapter 17, along with illustrations of these central interorganizational practice approaches. Chapter 18 analyzes eight models for engaging in policy practice—a central means of initiating and solidifying needed social change.

    Part III engages readers in diverse issues, areas, and fields of community practice. The first two chapters in this section examine issues of diversity and multicultural communication in different ways: Chapter 19 explores what needs to happen for organizations to develop cultural competence for effective work with diverse groups and communities of color, while Chapter 20 analyzes issues related to multicultural communication and collaboration and documents the principles, skills, and practice strategies needed for effective cross-cultural communication. The fields of practice discussed present issues and challenges in rural community practice (Chapter 21), in reviving social work's commitment to workplace justice (Chapter 22), and in the skills needed now for effective community economic development (Chapter 23). Chapter 24 examines social problems in major U.S. cities, exacerbated as funding for comprehensive community initiatives has been scaled back, and what approaches are needed to rekindle this type of broad-ranging, collaborative initiative and rebuild supportive communities in low-income areas. Chapter 25 demonstrates the development of a model children's service system and what is required to promote needed services in major urban areas. Chapters 26 and 27 concentrate on community practice focused on youth. Chapter 26 examines the promise of youth-led organizing and the mutual benefits to communities of “growing their own leaders,” while Chapter 27 focuses on the needs for and positive outcomes of adopting methods of restorative justice for youth and their communities.

    Part IV delves deeper into global issues and practice approaches, examining in Chapter 28 the power of social development indicators in identifying and understanding problems and impediments to positive and healthy human development. Chapter 29 confronts pivotal issues for humankind's survival—the scourge of global poverty, the need for effective welfare regimes, the consequences of absolute poverty, and promising strategies to create assets and promote sustainable livelihoods. Chapter 30 provides discussion of the major areas of international community practice and leads us through consideration of serious issues, illustrating the interconnections of problems and populations across the world and the need to act to protect the most vulnerable. The section concludes with presentations of women's leadership in community development, planning, organizing, and social change. Chapter 31 treats major issues related to the current lack of equal rights for women and girls in many areas of the world and demonstrates that even in the face of familial and communal discrimination, women rise as powerful leaders who invest in the holistic development of their communities and families. This chapter examines women's leadership and empowerment work on four continents and is written by a woman originally from Colombia, a woman from Mumbai, a woman originally from Zambia, and two women from the United States—all invested in opportunities and advancement for women as a major step in the advancement of humanity and more egalitarian societies.

    Part V examines issues related to community building and connections among community-based organizations, and addresses major challenges in service coordination, resource development, and the design of effective programs. Chapter 32 explores the role human service nonprofits can play in community-building efforts. From a global perspective, Chapter 33 demonstrates effective approaches to building local capacity for rural development in nations across the world. World Neighbors, an international nongovernmental organization, is committed to sustainability; when the organization agrees to work with a community or a cluster of villages, it commits to stay and work directly with community members for 10 years to ensure that the population can maintain positive changes—improved crops and livelihoods, better health, and gender equity. The next two chapters examine serious service issues and the need for family- and client-driven service systems. Chapter 34 investigates the growth of and the distance to go in constructing culturally competent youth- and family-driven services and well-coordinated systems of care, and Chapter 35examines the history and current challenges of creating a holistic and healing system of care for adults with mental health and other social problems. As has been echoed over decades, the way a nation treats its most vulnerable teaches us volumes about the ethic of care and our level of humanity. Chapter 36 views these issues from a planning perspective, illustrating differing ways to design programs that effectively address community needs and involve community members in that planning. Chapter 37 provides innovative ways of approaching resource development to fund programs and organizations, and seeks to establish a broader framework focused on a stakeholder model.

    Part VI addresses the criticality of research and evaluation, along with the promise of newer technologies to strengthen the capacities of organizations and community associations to build new knowledge and assist productive practice. Chapter 38 provides a strong analysis of community-based research, with special attention to community practice. Chapter 39 guides readers through considerations of optimal use and application of technology in the digital age, and Chapter 40 demonstrates how mapping using geographic information systems can be used to support positive, community-led change. In combination, these 40 chapters seek to ground readers in community practice, to promote understanding of our increasing global connectedness—even in the face of major social and economic problems—and to provide perspective on the essential needs for equal human rights, multicultural understanding, and social justice.

    Dominelli, L. (Ed.). (2007). Revitalizing communities in a globalizing world. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.
    Hall, A., & Midgley, J. (2004). Social policy for development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Midgley, J. (1997). Social welfare in global context. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Initially, I extend great appreciation and respect to my colleagues Michael Reisch and Mary L. Ohmer, who have been associate editors extraordinaire. Their knowledge of the field and intellectual acumen helped make the chapters both engaging and challenging. Special thanks to Dee Gamble, Clinical Professor Emerita of the University of North Carolina, for our long writing and research partnership, for our friendship, and for what I have learned from her about principles and values for community practice, which she embodies. Again, many thanks to our remarkable editor, Kassie Graves. I offer great appreciation and deep thanks to all the authors who contributed to making this edition even stronger than the first. Together, we have provided a much expanded global perspective for the volume and incorporated cutting-edge theory, research, and practice knowledge that is ready to be tested in many practice environments.

    My deep thanks to the wonderful women who have worked with me as research assistants during their MSW studies: Emily MacGuire, who again skillfully reviewed and edited chapters; Colleen Jeske, who has assisted with logistics and background research and contributed the Kibera case study; Alison Doernberg, who took on editing from Montana, insightfully critiqued and edited chapters, and coauthored one chapter; Cassandra Chugh, who has provided back-up and research for the case study of Rainier Beach in Seattle; and Hannah Popish, who helped initiate the project, connecting with authors and setting up logistics and procedures that provided a smooth working process. Special appreciation goes to Robert Pleasants and Susan White for clear-eyed initial copyediting, and to Jong-Gyu Paik and Andrea Meier who have provided technical, research, and moral support. Finally, I express great appreciation to my partner, Charles Weil, who has cheerfully endured this long process and remained stalwart, supportive, and loving.


    I dedicate this volume to our grandson, Nathan Charles Weil, and our granddaughter, Le Xin Clare Weil, and their parents, David and Kristen, who bring great joy to our lives; and to the inspiring mentors who have been models and guides for my life and work: to the memory of Paul Schreiber, former dean of the Hunter College School of Social Work—my model of scholarship and integrity—and to Barbara Solomon of the University of Southern California, who has brilliantly led social work toward empowerment practice.


    To Jennifer and Nikki, whose generation will create more just and vibrant communities.


    I dedicate this book to my brothers and sisters—Bob, Tom, Cindi, and Rose—who have always loved and supported me in everything I do; to my 22 nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews, who are the joy of my life; and to all my students, who are always challenging me to learn and grow.

    Mary L.Ohmer
  • Appendix A: Macro Practice Concentrations in Schools of Social Work in the United States


    Macro practice concentrations in schools of social work are critical for the people we serve and for the relevance of social work in a globalizing world. In their various forms, these concentrations are the incubators for future leaders in social policy, social research, leadership in community practice and administration in both the nonprofit and public sectors, and social advocacy. The Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA), the organization of macro faculty in the United States, has continuing concerns about the need for active recruitment of macro-oriented students and for strengthening and expanding macro curricula in social work programs at bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. More intensive recruitment efforts and strengthening of macro curricula are vital to maintain social work leadership in its historic domains, especially as graduates of at least five other professional schools and graduate disciplines increasingly seek leadership positions in both nonprofit and public sectors.

    Social workers have worked in host settings—such as hospitals or schools—for generations, inevitably subject to the dictates of medical models or the strictures of educational systems. Earlier literature has referred to social work practitioners in such settings as acting as “handmaidens” to administrators from other professions. It will be a serious problem for social work and for the people we serve if schools of social work fail to educate enough community practitioners and organizational leaders for local, state, and national needs; indeed, it will mean that we abandon our historic mission focused on social justice and human rights. This issue is rendered more serious because of the efforts of schools of business, public administration, law, community psychology and urban studies, and free-standing nonprofit leadership programs to move ever more aggressively into educating their students for leadership in nonprofit and public agencies.

    Given the seriousness of current social problems, we need to provide more rigorous education for our students to prepare them for the realities of leadership in the 21st century. If we do not provide our own leaders—professional and academic—for these sectors, others will. And if we do not prepare our graduates with the range of specialized macro practice knowledge, theory, competencies, and skills needed for effective organizational leadership, policy analysis and advocacy, community development, organizing, social planning, and social research, they will not be able to compete successfully for these roles. We do not presume that only social workers can provide administrative leadership or fulfill macro practice roles; however, there are realistic concerns, especially in relation to marginalized and low-income populations, if these critical areas of civil society and government services operate without social work's professional values and its commitments to empowerment, social justice, citizen participation, and human rights.

    We hope that the basic information in this appendix, drawn from the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) 2010 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States: A Summary (the most recent CSWE annual survey of social work programs, published in 2011) and current data about macro concentrations from the websites and published materials of a sample of 65 schools—in combination with the ACOSA Competencies presented in Appendix B—will be useful to social work faculty, practitioners, and academic leaders in considering ways to strengthen macro curricula and to grapple with the serious issues related to professional leadership and influence in public and nonprofit sectors. We hope also that these discussions can promote more in-depth research on these and other macro practice issues and provide ground for strategies to maintain social work's leadership in its historic domains of practice.


    Very early macro practice concentrations and current programs share essential similarities. Macro practice curricula in the United States grew out of the work done in the Settlement and Charity Organization Society movements, and the focus of their work did and continues to shape the content of macro practice curricula. Macro practice was a central part of these early curricula, both because community work was a major form of engagement to help improve the living and working conditions of immigrant populations and the poor and because new types of social agencies—public and nonprofit—were being formed to address specific and complex overlapping social problems. The early university-based programs clearly were pioneers in establishing the canon of knowledge that master's-level and, later, doctoral-level social workers were expected to acquire. There is a rich history in the early development of social work education and the move from free-standing training programs into universities—a move that has provided great benefits and also challenges.

    An early forum for development of knowledge for applied sociology, social work, and sociology was The Journal of Social Forces, founded in 1923. This periodical was edited by Howard Odum of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, founder of that university's School of Public Welfare and a scholar committed to development of research and intervention knowledge for social work. In the journal's fifth issue, an article documented the curricula of schools that were members of the American Association of Training Schools for Social Work. Table A.1 presents these early macro practice concentrations and course specializations.

    Other early schools, including the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh, also offered similar macro practice curricula. When Jane Addams and other leaders of the Settlement Movement founded what was to become the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, they brought with them the community practice, group work practice, organizational, and administrative knowledge and skills and the research approaches they had developed in settlement work. Their previous research on community studies and analysis of social problems and social policy issues served as grounding for curriculum. These original methods—community practice, administration and organizations, social policy, and social research—remain constants in graduate social work education. They serve as lasting anchors for macro practice education, now accompanied by additional specified practice methods.

    Sources of Information for Current Analysis

    In the first edition of this handbook, we reported on data from the CSWE annual survey from 2000 and from MSW program–level data. For this volume, the CSWE statistical report of data collected in 2010 was available. The CSWE data in this appendix can be compared with the data reported in Chapter 1 of the original Handbook of Community Practice (Weil, 2005, pp. 23–29) to see curriculum shifts. We are grateful for the support that CSWE has provided for this curriculum analysis in both editions of the handbook.

    Table A.1 Early Macro Practice Concentrations Reported on 12 Schools of Social Work in the September 1923 Issue of Social Forces

    As of February 2012, there were 215 MSW programs accredited by CSWE. The report on the 2010 statistics presents data from 197 of the 203 MSW programs in operation at the time of data collection. The report provides a range of valuable information on social work programs, including dual degrees and certificate programs and students' demographic characteristics. Here, we are focused on data related to macro practice curricula.

    In addition to the basic information available in the CSWE statistics, we wanted to provide a more in-depth view of the current types of macro practice methods offered in MSW programs, and since we did not have resources to conduct a full-scale study of all programs, we decided to examine a sample that would provide a snapshot of methods offered in current macro concentrations. Seeking to obtain information from a variety of programs, we selected as our sample the schools of social work that had been ranked from 1 to 60 in the 2012 social work education survey by U.S. News & World Report, conducted to rank graduate and professional schools (rankings available at Since multiple schools can be assigned the same numerical rank in this survey analysis, the sample of schools ranked from 1 to 60 totaled sixty-five. These rankings are based primarily on the perceived reputations of the schools as reported to surveyors by deans and professional leaders. There is, of course, considerable difference of opinion as to what these rankings represent and how accurate they can be given the methodology. Nevertheless, they provide a geographically diverse sample from public and private universities and are often used as a marker of schools' reputations, with expectations that they are grounded in quality curriculum and faculty expertise in scholarship and research.

    Current Macro Practice Concentrations

    Current macro practice concentrations for MSW programs in the United States are varied and designed to fit the missions of schools, the populations they serve, and their faculties' expertise. Basic aspects of social work curricula, such as offering a sequence of courses in social work practice, theory related to human behavior and the social environment, and social policy and research, are curriculum requirements of CSWE, the accrediting body for social work education in the United States. The first year of MSW programs offers courses in the above areas to provide generalist knowledge of the field. In the advanced curriculum, schools determine the curriculum while still including practice, theory, policy, and research courses. Schools determine what kinds of concentrations or specializations to offer. In the 2010 statistical report, CSWE (2011) notes:

    Almost half (46.7%) of master's programs offered a single-tier (method only) concentration. About one third (29.9%) of the programs offered a double-tier (method and field of practice) concentration. The remaining programs offered single-tier (field of practice only; 15.7%) or some other type of concentration system (7.6%). (p. 12)

    Schools are expected to respond to CSWE's annual surveys and the most recent data available are from 2010. To ensure that we had current, accurate data on macro concentrations, we conducted website research on the selected sample of schools. Table A.2 presents the concentrations described on the websites of each of the 65 highest-ranked schools, according to the U.S. News & World Report (2012) survey. Our interest was in macro methods currently being emphasized and, for simplicity, we determined to use the names of the concentrations as identifiers of the major macro methods taught. The table is organized to present the names of macro concentrations (as a proxy for methods taught) categorized by the number of macro methods specified in the names of concentrations. We list, therefore, single-method concentrations, two-method concentrations, three-method concentrations, four-method concentrations, and a category of schools that offer macro practice concentrations without specifying the practice methods offered. This final column also illustrates concentrations that use relatively new terminology—some of which have not historically been used to name “methods” of practice and some of which combine content in new ways.

    The left column of Table A. 2 presents curriculum concentration information on schools from the 65 highest-ranked schools that offer concentrations “other than macro.” To categorize these curricula, we have identified (a) combined concentrations developed by schools to combine components of macro practice and direct practice; (b) advanced generalist concentrations—which are expected to combine macro and direct practice; (c) schools that do not specify a macro concentration on their websites; and (d) schools in this top-60 ranking that offer only clinical concentrations.

    As Table A.2 illustrates, 12 schools offer a single macro method concentration—and these are quite varied, encompassing community practice; social, economic, and international development; and community partnerships, as well as administration and management.

    A few schools offer more than one macro practice degree. In Table A.2 it is interesting to see that Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research offers both an MSS in policy, practice, and advocacy and a long-established Master of Law and Social Policy. At the University of Pennsylvania, as a result of recent expansion and curriculum revisions, the School of Social Policy and Practice now offers three macro practice degrees: an MSW in macro practice, an MS in social policy, and an MS in nonprofit leadership.

    Sixteen schools offer two-method macro practice concentrations, including (for simplicity of presentation) the two Bryn Mawr macro practice degree programs. Boston College now offers two distinct macro concentrations, having recently added a new concentration in global practice and maintaining its macro practice concentration. These sixteen schools offering two-method concentrations often have community and administration/management concentrations, while others offer strong focus on policy practice, advocacy practice, international practice, program development, and leadership—often in conjunction with either community or management practice. Columbia University has now reorganized its long-established macro practice curriculum into two concentrations—one well

    Table A.2 Macro Practice Concentrations Offered by Sample of 65 Schools of Social Work Ranked From 1 to 60 in 2012 U.S. News and World Report Survey

    established in policy practice and a new concentration focused on social enterprise administration.

    Fourteen schools offer macro curricula specializing in three macro practice methods. The macro practice program at the University of Chicago retains the strong macro focus with which it was founded, and the School of Social Service Administration appropriately calls its macro concentration social administration. However, with greater resources than many programs and in accord with its tradition, this concentration offers three distinct specializations: community planning, organizing, and development; nonprofit management; and policy planning, analysis, and advocacy. The clusters of courses for each of these specializations could form the core of separate concentrations in many schools. Therefore, we have categorized the Chicago program according to these three specializations. As noted, the University of Pennsylvania offers three specific macro practice degrees.

    The three-method schools represent strong concentrations in major macro methods, with most reporting emphasis on community, administrative/management, and policy practice, while others offer policy planning, analysis and evaluation, community planning and development, nonprofit management, and leadership. The University of Texas at Arlington offers two macro concentrations—one in administrative practice and one in combined administrative and community practice. Hunter College School of Social Work, CUNY, offers methods in community organizing, planning and development, and organization management and leadership and is one of the schools that require students to specialize in both a practice method and field of practice. Students select a major method, a minor method, and courses in the field of practice they choose.

    Throughout the nation, many schools provide a concentration focus on management or administration, and now three schools in our sample specifically note “nonprofit” as part of the name of their concentration: University of Pennsylvania (degree in Nonprofit/NGO Leadership); University of Chicago (Nonprofit Management Specialization), and Rutgers, which offers a concentration in Nonprofit and Public Management. A number of schools offer certificates in nonprofit management. This focus seems a vital concern for macro practice; however, it raises questions regarding the degree of focus given now to management and administration in the public sector. This is an important item for discussion among faculty and schools.

    The two schools counted as offering four methods both offer community practice; one adds policy, planning, and administration and the other policy advocacy and development, organizational practice, and international social development—research focus.

    The column on the right of Table A.2 lists the five schools that offer macro practice concentrations (without specifying particular methods). It also notes schools offering macro concentrations that have adopted some newer terminology. Four of these schools include “leadership” in their macro concentration title, as do seven schools in other categories. With at least 11 schools modifying their concentration names to include leadership, it will be intriguing to learn more about the scope and focus of this content. While leadership is surely a cardinal component of macro practice, it is interesting to note the rapid increase in the use of the term and somewhat problematic to identify specifically what content is being taught without examination of course syllabi. This topic can promote useful discussion among faculty and within ACOSA.

    It is encouraging to see schools now identifying global practice (Boston College), International and community development (Monmouth), social and economic development (with strong international content; Washington University), community and social development (with considerable international focus; Case Western and the University of Kentucky), and community and international practice (University of Louisville) as major concentration content. As discussed in multiple chapters of this book, the editors and several authors urge greater focus on global issues and international practice, as well as international field placements and mutual learning and research with both faculty and student colleagues in other parts of the world—particularly the Global South. An increasing number of U.S. schools are offering one or two courses that focus on international practice and policy, and some have—with even more establishing—international practice or development certificate programs, as well as developing international field placements and formalizing study-abroad programs.

    As illustrated in the left-hand column of Table A.2, four schools, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, University of Maryland—Baltimore, and Fordham, offer both a macro concentration and an additional concentration that combines components of direct practice and macro practice. In its direct practice concentration, the University of Alabama provides an optional emphasis on program planning and administration, and Tulane offers a “clinical-community” concentration. Simmons College, long established as a clinically oriented school, has added a second MSW called Urban Leadership—providing two specialized leadership courses and four skills-based noncredit mini-courses.

    Within the higher-ranked schools of social work included in this sample of 65, only 2 offer advanced generalist concentrations (these concentrations provide macro practice required and elective courses). The websites for three schools in this sample did not indicate a macro concentration or advanced set of macro courses. Within the schools of social work ranked from 1 to 60, only four identify themselves as clinical schools.

    Macro practice is flourishing within this sample of 65 schools and is offered in an interesting variety and range of combinations related to the schools' contexts and populations served.

    We recognize that categorizing curriculum content by the methods specified in concentration names is a rough measure. In the 2005 analysis of concentrations from CSWE's Summary Information on MSW Programs, 1999–2000 data, we illustrated the number of methods offered in the 74 schools in that sample that identified macro specializations. In the table “Macro Specializations in Schools of Social Work, 2000,” we did not identify individual schools and instead indicated the number of programs offering each macro practice method. With information from the larger CSWE data set, that table provided a different perspective on ways to examine macro concentration content. Table 1.2 in the first edition of the Handbook of Community Practice (Weil, 2005, p. 25) presents this data. SAGE has made the entire first edition available online through libraries.

    Table A.3 presents the number of schools that offer each of the macro concentration methods offered by the 2012 sample of 65 schools.

    Community Practice methods were noted more frequently than any other single method—reported by 27 schools. As is evident in Table A.2, there was variation in terminology—including, for example, community, community practice, community organization, partnerships, and community empowerment. Administration was noted by 16 schools, and management by 9. The descriptions of concentrations do not indicate a clear distinction between the two terms or any differences in practice emphasis. However, many responsibilities in administration and management do overlap even if levels of responsibility differ. If these two methods are combined, a total of 25 schools offer one or the other. In addition, 5 schools note a concentration emphasis in organizations or organizational practice, which would seem to relate to work within public and nonprofit organizations and community-based organizations—and so connect to both community and administrative/management practice.

    Sixteen schools list a policy emphasis in their macro concentration—variously described as policy, policy practice, social policy, and social policy advocacy and development. The number of schools listing development has increased, and some now specify social development or international development. Given the types of practice undertaken, we classified the “global practice” concentration from Boston College under development since so much of global practice, particularly in the Global South, is community development at multiple levels. For some schools in the sample, including Monmouth, Washington University, Case Western, University of Kentucky, and University of Louisville, it is clear that their focus is on community development and/or international development—perhaps encompassing both social and economic development. For several other schools, the term development seems more connected to planning. Clarifying terminology about development would be very useful, particularly since the U.S. usage seems at variance from the usage in the Global South. Seven schools reported planning as one of the methods taught in their macro concentration, and six reported advocacy. It would be very interesting to learn the scope and range of planning methods currently taught. Macro practice concentrations—with unspecified methods—are offered by seven schools in the sample. Leadership, a relatively new term in concentration names, has grown rapidly and is now listed by 10 schools. It would be useful for ACOSA to offer time to discuss the terminology for concentrations and differential content. Among concentration components listed as “other” are program development, evaluation, social change and social justice, and community health. In addition, one school offered both a macro practice concentration in “administrative practice” and a separate macro concentration that combines “administrative and community practice,” while a third offered a degree in non-profit/NGO leadership.

    Table A.3 Concentration Methods Offered in a Sample of 65 Schools of Social Work—Aggregated by Number of Schools Offering Each Method

    Concentration Information from 2010 Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States, Collected and Analyzed by CSWE
    Field of Practice Concentrations

    As noted, in 2010 almost half of responding schools indicated structuring their curricula with concentrations focused only on methods of practice; about one third have adopted a curriculum structure that employs both methods concentrations and concentrations by field of practice, and 15.7% organize their advanced curricula around field of practice concentrations only. Table A.4 presents CSWE's data from 2010, which indicate what types of field of practice concentrations were offered by responding schools, along with information about the number of schools offering each field concentration type and the number of students enrolled in each type of field concentration. Since schools determine their own fields of practice, they are quite varied, with some field of practice terminology overlapping with the practice methods categorization. For example, among the macro-oriented fields of practice specializations, community and social systems, administration, and research are reported in the 2010 survey.

    Table A.4 Master's Programs Offering Concentrations by Fields of Practice and Total Student Enrollment (data from the 2010 CSWE survey with a sample of 197 schools)

    In examining this table, there are at least three distinct issues for those concerned about macro practice. First, the noted fields of practice do not seem to connect adequately to many of the most serious social problems or other areas that have strong needs for macro practitioners. For example, the list is thin on social justice organizations, or advocacy organizations working with the poor, and with immigrant and refugee groups. Basic kinds of community services and activist community-based organizations did not make the list. Political social work placements seem to be missing and, as the list is constructed, it is not possible to ascertain whether legislative or social action coalitions are included.

    Second, there is a great need for macro practice – educated social workers in the fields related to serving highly vulnerable populations that are a major part of the service populations for the first seven fields noted. The needs of people served by the child welfare, mental health, and health systems cry out for advocacy-oriented leadership and skills in organizational collaboration and coalition strategies. People vulnerable because of their stage of life—primarily children and older adults—need advocate planners and leaders who connect to members of the populations and their families, as well as to service systems. There is a rich literature in macro practice about systems work, community building, system rejuvenation, and participatory- and empowerment-oriented practices. Many students interested in macro practice have a special concern for a particular population, but sometimes those “concentrations” do not offer the policy and macro skills needed. And students in these fields are told—sometimes by faculty, sometimes by field supervisors—that they have to “pay their dues” (in years) and work their way up through the system. Schools and field agencies need to give serious attention to the macro skill needs for practice with vulnerable populations and communities.

    Likewise, macro practice knowledge and skills are greatly needed to effectively serve and empower members of immigrant and refugee communities and members of the disability community, as well as being necessary for competent work in rural settings. In each of these arenas, staff are needed who can negotiate service, funding, and political systems; design and carry forward new programs; obtain grant funding; and lobby for the people they serve.

    A systems issue that schools and local professionals should be able to solve is the need to find field supervisors for advocacy- and community-based organizations that do not have MSWs on staff. For many students, their field experience is their opportunity for greatest learning and growth. We need to find more effective ways to provide support for macro students interested in these field areas and, equally, to find support for students who have envisioned themselves doing “direct” or clinical work only to discover that they do not want to learn how to help people accommodate to unjust and punishing systems. In addition, the number of students interested in international work is growing, and schools need to find sound ways to connect in mutually supportive and beneficial ways to programs and projects in other nations to provide placements that offer mutual learning. Several of the concerns noted here relate also to concentrations focused on practice methods.

    Methods Concentrations

    Table A.5 illustrates the dominance “by numbers” of programs offering specific concentrations in direct practice, clinical practice, and advanced generalist practice. A total of 192 (out of 197) of the programs responding to the 2010 survey offer one of these concentrations. High-quality direct practice is, of course, a great need; of concern is the disparity in concentration offerings between direct practice and macro practice—and therefore, also of concern is the need to have practitioners equipped to work with the most vulnerable and to deal with systems as well as symptoms.

    Twenty-five programs offer combined direct and macro concentrations, described in the table as a “combination of direct practice/clinical and community planning or management/administration.” This kind of preparation is of considerable value to students who wish to serve low-wealth communities or populations that have multiple vulnerabilities that require good macro skills. While many smaller schools have difficultly marshaling the resources for a macro concentration, a number of schools that offer the advanced generalist concentrations probably could support a macro concentration to provide the pipeline for leadership in management, administrative, community, and policy practice needed in their geographic areas.

    With regard to macro practice concentrations, 32 programs are reported as offering a combination of community planning and management/administration and another 32 as offering community planning/organization. An additional 31 provide concentrations in management or administration. Ten schools are reported as offering a concentration in social policy. Eight schools are reported as offering a concentration in program evaluation and another seven as offering a “combination of social policy and program evaluation.” In 2010, there were a total of 120 macro practice concentrations with varying emphases being offered among the 197 schools in the CSWE sample.

    The table reports that nine schools offer a concentration that combines “direct practice/clinical and social policy or program evaluation,” which brings the total number of programs offering combined methods concentrations to 34. This combination is also useful for students to be able to move from “case to cause” and employ policy analysis and advocacy skills. Despite these useful “combined concentrations,” the disparity between 192 direct practice/clinical concentrations compared with 120 macro practice–focused concentrations raises concern given the growing need for strong community practice and community-based organizations and leadership in nonprofit and public agencies. Without macro practice preparation, graduates who are “promoted up the line” into supervision, planning, management, administration, and external relations are practicing without the education and experience needed for optimal performance in a wide range of leadership positions.

    Table A.5 Master's Programs Offering Concentrations by Methods of Practice and Total Student Enrollment (data from 2010 CSWE survey with a sample of 197 schools)

    Indeed, this discrepancy in educational and experiential preparation for leadership is likely one cause that leads boards of directors of nonprofits and city and state officials to hire people other than social workers for leadership positions in both sectors. Given changes in the economy as well as career interests, increasingly, graduates with master's in business administration, law degrees, public administration degrees, and public health seek and are hired for positions that, 8 to 10 years ago, would have been presumed to be “social work positions.” The numbers of directors of county departments of social service and state-level leaders in departments of human services who are social workers are in serious decline—at least in the Southeastern region of the United States (North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Work, 2008).

    As business schools and public administration programs adapt to changing times and initiate nonprofit management programs, leadership positions in the nonprofit sector are at ever greater risk for social workers. There are multiple reasons for this growing problem, including that many people serving on boards of nonprofits are likely to assume that applicants with a JD or an MBA are better prepared to deal with social programs in times of fiscal austerity than are social workers. Public agencies face the same—or more severe—challenges. And, unfortunately, many people who serve on nonprofit boards or public commission are aware of social work only as preparing graduates for clinical or direct practice work. This complex issue demands responses from schools of social work and increased commitment to prepare graduates for leadership positions. Perhaps this issue offers one explanation for why schools are officially selecting for their macro practice concentrations names that focus on leadership.

    In this appendix, we have examined multiple types of macro practice concentrations and specializations that can assist educators in designing optimal macro-focused courses and concentrations to fit the needs and strengths of local communities and regions, to educate students for facilitative and direct leadership, and to extend social work education's vision for both local and global practice. We hope this discussion and the competencies presented in Appendix B can provide some guidance and direction for strengthening education for professional leadership to ensure social work's continued role and engagement in building civil society.

    Marie Weil
    Council on Social Work Education. (2011). 2010 statistics on social work education in the United States: A summary. Alexandria, VA: Author. Retrieved from
    North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services. (2008). Opening panel. Presented at annual statewide conference.
    U.S. News & World Report. (2012). Best social work programs. Retrieved from
    Weil, M. (Ed.). (2005). The handbook of community practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Appendix B: ACOSA Competencies

    Dorothy M.Gamble
    Preface: Acosa Competencies for Schools of Social Work in the United States by Marie Weil

    The Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA) has recently developed a set of competencies for consideration by macro-concentration faculty in the United States to strengthen specializations and concentrations in macro practice, which includes the following methods: community practice, administrative practice, social planning, advocacy, research, social and political action, and policy practice. When the U.S. Council on Social Work Education completed the latest revision of its educational policies and accreditation standards, the competencies listed were so general that ACOSA felt it had to step up and prepare community practice competencies, while, contemporaneously, the National Network for Social Work Managers developed competencies for social work management so that faculty would have competencies to consider and work from that were designed by macro practice faculty.

    Dorothy N. Gamble and an ACOSA committee, led by Tracy Soska and Sondra Fogel—then ACOSA's chair and chair-elect, respectively—did initial work on planning for development of competencies. Dee Gamble has persevered for several years in refining and having the proposed competencies reviewed in multiple meetings and at a National Council on Social Work Education Conference ACOSA forum, as well as through a survey of ACOSA members. ACOSA leaders and members extend heartfelt thanks to Dee for her excellent work and stamina in this valuable project, and to Tracy and Sondra for their leadership. We are happy to share the final document in this volume and hope that U.S. schools will give serious consideration to these competencies and related skills in further curriculum refinement and renewal. A more detailed article by Gamble (2011), “Advanced Concentration Macro Competencies for Social Work Practitioners: Identifying Knowledge, Values, Judgment and Skills to Promote Human Well-Being,” has recently been published in The Journal of Community Practice: Organizing, Planning, Development and Change, sponsored by ACOSA.

    By including the ACOSA Competencies material, we do not presume to recommend this set of competencies to faculty in other nations, because we believe that macro practice–focused faculty and practitioners in all nations should construct practice competencies appropriate to their own contexts and cultures. In addition, macro practice competencies for any nation need to be considered in light of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles for ethical guidance and in relation to their own national professional code of ethics. We are pleased to note that similar work on competencies is already occurring. At a recent E.U./U.S. symposium at the University of Pittsburgh, representatives from several countries reported on similar development of community work competencies in response to the resurgence of community work/practice in E.U. nations (Soska, Teixeira, Legault, Crawford, & Hardoby, 2011).

    We would be interested to hear from faculty in other nations about their own curriculum development work and to receive comments related to this first effort by ACOSA to establish practice competencies for macro practitioners in the United States. Such information about curricula and practice can be shared on the ACOSA website or newsletter (

    Gamble, D. N. (2011). Advanced concentration macro competencies for social work practitioners: Identifying knowledge, values, judgment and skills to promote human well-being. Journal of Community Practice: Organizing, Planning, Development and Change, 19(4), 369–402.
    Soska, T. M., Teixeira, S., Legault, S., Crawford, K., & Hardoby, M. (2011). EU-US Symposium on Community and Social Development: A transatlantic dialogue on comparative perspectives on the state of community work and social inclusion—A summary report on the proceedings of May 5–7, 2011 at the University of Pittsburgh. Journal of Community Practice: Organizing, Planning, Development and Change, 19(4), 438–455.
    Introduction to Acosa Competencies
    Dorothy N.Gamble

    The following Table B.1 was approved by ACOSA in January 2011. It is the culmination of many years of work to describe and validate a set of competencies that would be expected of advanced community practice students in U.S. schools and departments of social work.

    We define competencies as “knowledge, values, judgment, and skills.” Understanding that all community practice is connected to complex culturally, historically, and meaning-based understanding of social problems, we drew from Dominelli (2002), Jordan (2007), Mullaly (2007), Finn and Jacobson (2008), Gamble and Weil (2010), and Weil, Gamble, and McGuire (2010) for guidance. Every day, the judgments made by community practitioners and social administrators depend on the wise use of practice knowledge, coupled with the application of social justice and human rights values and grounded in ethical behavior.

    The competency lists were shared with members of ACOSA on several occasions, as well as with members of the National Network of Social Work Managers, students and former students, and community and management practitioners at local and national meetings to refine and incorporate more specific skills and to ensure the inclusion of international perspectives. The list is divided into 10 areas, the first group of 5 with a focus on social administration and the second group of 5 with a focus on community practice. The column labeled “Competencies” describes the knowledge, values, judgment, and skills social workers in macro practice should have in preparation for engagement in community practice. The second column, labeled “Practice Behaviors,” describes how community practice professionals should act in their work as they demonstrate ethical judgment and skills in practice. The document leaves to educators and supervisors the task of determining how these behaviors will be demonstrated, measured, and evaluated.

    This set of competencies may not cover all the specific knowledge, values, judgment, and skills offered by particular schools of social work or planning and development educational centers. We assume all educational programs organize their macro course content in ways suitable for their context and goals and will, therefore, select or adapt the most appropriate set of competencies for their approach to community practice education. Our intent was to make the task easier for instructors, and we hope this list will indeed do so.

    Dominelli, L. (2002). Anti-oppressive social work theory and practice. London: Palgrave.
    Finn, J., & Jacobson, M. (2008). Just practice: A social justice approach to social work (
    2nd ed.
    ). Peosta, IA: Eddie Bowers.
    Gamble, D. N., & WeilM. (2010). Community practice skills: Local to global perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.
    Jordan, B. (2007). Social work and well-being. Dorset, UK: Russell House.
    Mullaly, B. (2007). The new structural social work (
    3rd ed.
    ). Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.
    Weil, M., Gamble, D. N., & MacGuire, E. (2010). Community practice skills workbook: Local to global perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Table B.1 Resources for Building Curriculum Language for Macro Practice Based on MSW/ACOSA Competencies

    Author Index