Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler School of Social Work, spoke with YU News about the unique program that Wurzweiler runs in Israel that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.
What is the genesis of the program?
Wurzweiler has had a program in Israel for over 40 years as part of our summer block program, where students come to New York in the summer (generally in June or July) and take their classes in a concentrated block, hence the name. They then return to their home country, in this case Israel, and complete their field practicum hours at a local agency. Students may also take online or live online classes during the academic year when they are in the field.
What makes this program stand out from other programs?
First, it’s the only program in any school of social work that graduates social workers who can be licensed in both the United States and Israel.
Second, we’ve built a blended learning environment that accommodates students where they live and work. We have a strong relationship with Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where students take their practice classes and a policy class. Students can take their classes live online with Wurzweiler faculty and curriculum through our unique Zoom mediated classes, and if you want a face-to-face academic experience, we welcome you to the Summer Block program.
Third, our faculty are as blended as the program! Because of our partnership with Hebrew University, some of our teachers are Israelis based in Israel. Others are New York-based faculty. And still others are faculty we have recruited from around the United States with distinguished expertise.
How do you ensure that students dispersed around the world feel like a community?
We bring students together from all over the world to learn from very experienced and knowledgeable faculty and from a diverse student body. Students who take live online classes feel they are a part of their cohort; they build a learning community for the semester or for the year that is also a part of a global community. With live online and online classes, time and distance fall away as impediments to closeness and sharing. Classroom and field experiences are no longer geographically bounded. This makes for a very rich and enriched academic experience.
Describe the background of the students.
Many students have recently made aliyah and tend to be in their early 30s or late 20s. They are passionate about helping those in need and bettering society. Some of our students have had other careers and are now coming to social work as a second career. Others have always done social work in one form or another and are now seeking a degree to give them the added skills and credentials they need.
Can you give some examples of the supervised placements that are a part of the program?
We place students in social service agencies that work with every population and problem imaginable. Agencies eagerly embrace our students because they know they are very bright and come prepared. We place students in hospitals, clinics, schools, communities, disaster relief. Anywhere there is human pain, we are there.
How does the program reflect the Wurzweiler philosophy?
At Wurzweiler, our commitment to quality education is unwavering. We also are unwavering in our commitment to small classes, individualized attention, advising and instruction. This is the kind of nurturing that social work requires. It is the kind of education our students deserve. At Wurzweiler, we know your name, we know your strengths and we know what it is you want to work on. We join with you in achieving this. Because the world deserves exceptional healers.
Short- and long-term goals?
Our mission at Wurzweiler is to help heal a fractured world. We do this by training exceptional social workers.
To effect our mission, we must make our program accessible to everyone. If students want to come to New York and take face-to-face classes or stay at home and join their class live online or take a fully online class where they work at their own pace, we have those options available. It is the same exceptional program and the same exceptional nurturing.
And we want to grow the program. Our classes are all in English and we work with students for English-based placements. We are accepting applications now for this program.
We also have a thriving doctoral cohort in Israel who meet regularly with each other and with faculty and meet with each other to discuss coursework, research and publishing. If you are interested in the doctoral program, we would love to hear from you.
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