Ecological Systems Perspective

The MSW program at the University of Windsor is taught from an ecological systems perspective. This means there is an emphasis on the ‘interrelationship’ across levels of practice, including the interrelationship between individuals and their environments and the impact the environment has on individuals. Environment includes a range of contexts including but not limited to family context, organizational infrastructures, service systems, network linkages, political forces, cultural forces, social forces, and social work values, roles, and professional issues.

The ecological systems perspective is a way of thinking of issues. It is not used as a ‘theory’ or a ‘model’ of practice in this program. Within this perspective, students will incorporate a range of theories and practice models as indicated in the course descriptions.

In a direct practice course, an assignment might be for students to create a scenario, hypothetically assess a client (individual or family) and develop an intervention. In this case, not only would students create an intervention at a micro level but they would also consider and possibly include in their intervention the individual/family’s environment such as planning a new resource, increased linkages with community, addressing policy issues, addressing stigma and oppression.

In keeping with this perspective, field placements reflect a wide range of settings and provide a variety of field practice experiences.  These include work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, social policy and research.  Students are expected to vary their field experiences and expand their professional repertoire in both direct and indirect practice.