Saint John the Evangelist Seminary

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Saint John the Evangelist Seminary


MT 504:  Cultural Diversity

Course Syllabus 


Bishop James Wilkowski


Course Description:


This course focuses on issues of diversity, oppression and social justice. It is designed to prepare social work students to be knowledgeable of peopleís biases based on race, ethnicity, culture, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, social and economic status, political ideology, disability and how these contribute to discrimination and oppression. Students will learn about diverse cultures, family structure, roles, immigration and assimilation experiences of marginalized groups. Students will also learn about the influence of dominant culture on these diverse and marginalized (population at risk) groups.

Additionally, this course will examine the adaptive capabilities and strengths of these marginalized groups and how such capabilities and strengths can be used in effective social work practice. The course will assist social work students in understanding the complex nature of the person in the environment taking into consideration the dynamics of social oppression, diversity and social functioning. Students will explore their own personal values, beliefs, and behaviors that may limit their ability to practice effective social work with people of diverse backgrounds, in particular, disadvantaged and oppressed persons.


Text: Appleby, G., Colon, E., & Hamilton J. (2011). Diversity, Oppression, and Social functioning: Person-In-Environment Assessment and Intervention,(3rd ..ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon Course.


* Used copies of this text available on internet.


Reading Assignments:




1.  Social work ethics and values related to diversity, oppression and social justice, NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice. Framework for practice with diverse and oppressed clients. Appleby pp 1-14.

2.  Culture, Social Class, and Social Identity Development. Appleby pp.16-34.

Oppressed Segments of U.S. Society Institutional and Systemic Practices of Oppression

3.  Racism:  People of Color  Appleby pp 53-68

4.  Women and Sexist  Appleby pp 70-89

5.  Multidiversity Perspective on Latinos: Issues of Oppression and Social Functioning.  Appleby pp.92-107

6.  Native Americans: Oppression and Social Work Practice.  Appleby pp. 109-128

7.  Asian Americans: Ethnocentrism and Discrimination.  Appleby pp.131-143

8.  Middle Easterners

9.  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People  Appleby pp. 145-173

10.  Ableism: Social Work Practice with Individuals with physical disabilities. Appleby pp. 179-194

11.  Religious bigotry and Religious Minorities.  Appleby pp 195- 215

Institutional and Systemic Practices of Oppression

12.  Affirmative practice with people who are culturally diverse and oppressed.  Appleby pp 239-255

Written Assignments

Analysis Paper: Instances of Personal and Institutional Discrimination (3-6 pages in length)

1. Write about one incident in your life in which you were in power/privilege or the victim of discrimination or prejudice and one in which you were the perpetrator of discrimination or prejudice.

2. Identify the practice of institutional discrimination in an area of social work practice. This may occur in an area such as your agency board composition, staff recruitment and promotion, professional relationships with clients and community or interpersonal relationships in the agency including professional, clerical and maintenance support

The Study of a Familyís Ethnicity or a Groupís Diversity
Select one ethnic or diversity group and examine its collective history. Consider the sources of cohesion, identity and strength, as well as the sources of stress, discord and strife which may influence problem generation and resolution.

Select a family or support system from this ethnic or diverse group. Ask permission to interview members.


1. How the family or group may be viewed in the light of its collective history.
2. What are the sources of cohesion, identity and strength; stress, discord and strife that are 
evident as the result of the groupís reality?
3. How are roles assigned in relation to gender and age? Is this assignment a reflection of 
the groupís cultural reality? What are the consequences of the role assignment?8
4. How does the group function in relation to other systems: e.g., educational, religious, 
occupational, judicial?
5. How does it function as a transmitter of cultural values?
6. How does this group compare with the information contained in the literature about 
people of similar identity?
7. What are the implications for social work practice at both micro and macro levels? Be 
specific in terms of principles of practice.


Saint John the Evangelist Seminary
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