Understanding Privilege and Engaging in Activism: Elevating Social Justice in Social Work (1 credit hour)

Program Summary:  This course examines the social work profession’s commitment to social justice with a research study of 310 MSW students, exploring which individual factors were most associated with activism and engagement.  The concept of intersectionality is highlighted and provides a framework for understanding how individuals hold multiple, overlapping identities that result in various combinations of discrimination, oppression, and privilege.  The course finds that an increased understanding of privilege, power, and the intersecting systems of oppression is required in our efforts to elevate social justice. Social justice is a core value of the social work profession, and the NASW Code of Ethics establishes the ethical principle to challenge social injustice.

Value: Social Justice
Ethical Principle:
Social workers challenge social injustice.  Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people.  Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice.  These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity.  Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.  
NASW Code of Ethics

This course is recommended for social workers and is appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.  This course is not recommended for NBCC ethics credit.

“Book  Open the Course Reading Here.

Reading:  Understanding Privilege and Engaging in Activism:  Elevating Social Justice in Social Work  Author:  Nancy Digby Franke  Publisher:  Advances in Social Work

Course Objectives:  To enhance professional practice, values, skills and knowledge by exploring privilege, oppression, activism, and social justice in social work.

Learning Objectives:  Describe the social work profession’s ethical commitment to social justice.  Describe intersectionality and the impact of interacting systems of oppression.   Describe the protective role of privilege.  Identify which individual factors were associated with greater political and social activism among MSW students.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

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1: Which of the following is described as a way to consider a person as a whole made up of overlapping and sometimes clashing identities that are impossible to disaggregate?
2: Intersectionality offers clean, distinct categorizations of different people.
3: In a seminal work, Crenshaw explained these aspects of the self as _____________.
4: One way that social justice commitment can be considered on an individual level is through understanding the role of privilege in
5: Which of the following works to 'systematically over empower certain groups' (McIntosh, 1989, p. 11)?
6: In the seminal work, "White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," McIntosh (1989) explained that White people are often taught about racism as
7: In other words, White people are taught to see themselves as
8: Which of the following is one avenue through which social workers can apply their knowledge of and dedication to addressing systemic oppression?
9: Social activism is a requirement for
10: Discussion:  In this study of MSW students, which of the following was significantly associated with political and social activism?

In order to purchase or take this course, you will need to log in. If you do not have an account, you will need to register for a free account.

After you log in, a link will appear here that will allow you to purchase this course.


Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2021 - 9/6/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1 ethics continuing education credit.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City. She has practiced for many years in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.