Lloyd P. Gestoso, M.S.W., Chair
Juliet J. Campbell-Farrell, Ph.D.
Janet T. Tyler, Ph.D., Director of Field Instruction
Cheryl L. Nitz, M.S.W.
Meghan A. Krouse, M.S.W.
Cairn University was the first biblical institution to develop a Department of Social Work that offered Bible training combined with professional social work. The Department was founded by Dr. Charles Furness in 1965. It was a groundbreaking initiative to produce credentialed professionals whose education was founded on the Word of God.
Social work is defined as the applied science of helping people achieve an effective level of bio-psycho-social-spiritual functioning and of effecting societal changes to enhance the well-being of all people (adapted from Robert L. Barker, The Social Work Dictionary. Washington: NASW Press. 2003). Cairn places a needed emphasis on the spiritual dimension because of its importance in achieving wholeness. Social workers intervene in the lives of those in need by counseling individuals and locating resources, facilitating groups with common needs, and promoting change within organizations and communities. Social workers specialize in confronting oppression and inequality. Graduates of Cairn’s Bachelor of Social Work program earn the professional title of Social Worker and are motivated by the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
The Department of Social Work at Cairn University prepares students for entry into generalist social work practice by equipping them with professional knowledge, values, and skills understood within the context of a biblical worldview. The purpose of its holistic education is to equip students to demonstrate competency, excellence, and wisdom as they lead in their service to all those in need with empathy, expertise, and integrity and to advocate for social change within the Christian church, society, and the world.
Generalist social work practice is a broad systems approach to helping that enables the practitioner to understand and operate within three dimensions of practice: micro (individuals), mezzo (groups), and macro (organizations and communities). This comprehensive approach empowers the worker to address an issue within the dimension of its origin, yet consider action within the other two dimensions.
Social work students take their God-given gifts and passions and focus on mercy, justice, holiness, and love. They understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and the strategies of change that advance social and economic justice. They demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the positive value of diversity. They learn to flow among the dimensions of individual, group, organization, and community, using their generalist practice skills. They learn to evaluate and implement policy. They utilize research skills to analyze existing research and complete their own. They study varied general education courses to develop critical thinking skills and to gain the knowledge of a well-educated person. Finally they complete well over 500 hours of field placement where they integrate faith, theory, and practice.
Graduates from the Department of Social Work are trained to work in entry level positions with sectarian (religious) and non-sectarian human service organizations. They can be found working effectively with the unborn, children and youth and their parents, schools, mental health and addictions, criminal justice, gerontology, medical facilities, and end of life issues. Biblical social work is also well suited to work in domestic and international ministries and missions. Cairn graduates serve in all professional areas addressing human relationships.
The Department offers three specific programs. The first is the Bachelor of Social Work Program. This program includes a significant integration of Bible, arts and sciences, and social work courses (132 credits) which result in the single Bachelor of Social Work degree.
The second program is the double-degree Bachelor of Science in Bible and Bachelor of Social Work Program. This program extends the learning in Bible, arts and sciences, and social work (150 credits) which results in two baccalaureate degrees.
Both of the above programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and require the full social work field placement experience. Students may choose to add TESOL courses to their program of study.
The third program is Social Service Interdisciplinary in which a student takes some social work courses and has the opportunity to take courses from other academic disciplines in the University. The flexibility of this program allows students to customize their courses from multiple disciplines of their interests, yet also benefit from the social work community and advisement from social work faculty. They also benefit from completing a professional internship in an area of their interest. This program results in a Bachelor of Science in Bible degree. This program is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Students apply for admission to one of these programs in their sophomore year.
A minor in social work is also available. A minimum of 20 credits of focused study in social work is required and may be added to any of the existing undergraduate degree programs in the University. This minor is not accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Related Program Information
Field placement is an integral part of the social work program. It gives students an opportunity to function in a professional setting under the supervision of a social work professional. Students do not just discuss helping others; they are professionally tested in the field with real people in need. The Department offers field placement for B.S.W. students. The following is a sample of areas where a student could be placed: children’s services, family services, services in gerontology, services for the developmentally disabled, criminal justice, education, community services, addictions, mental health services, and medical social work.
Field placement decisions are a collaborative effort between faculty and students. There are two field placement opportunities. The first is for two semesters with a minimum of eight hours per week. In this situation students have an opportunity to begin integrating theory in a practice setting where they can observe and understand organizational process. The second involves 32 hours per week for one semester. In this situation the student can begin to focus intensively on the daily professional social work experience. Both placement opportunities are concurrent with social work classes and are monitored and visited by faculty.
The program started in 1965 and in 1974 Cairn was among the first schools accredited on the baccalaureate level by the Council on Social Work Education. CSWE is the national accrediting agency for both graduate and undergraduate programs.
A number of accredited graduate schools of social work offer advance standing of up to one year in a traditional two-year Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree program. This privilege is available to graduates of baccalaureate social work programs that are accredited by CSWE. The Cairn Department of Social Work prepares graduates for this opportunity.
Requirements for the B.S.W. Program
Requirements for admission to and continuance in the Bachelor of Social Work Program are found in the Department of Social Work Student Handbook. Briefly, these include:
- Minimum GPA of 2.0 overall
- Minimum GPA of 2.5 in social work courses
- Completion of application form
- Recommendation by the Office of Student Life
- Recommendation by University faculty and staff
- Recommendation by social work faculty
- Recommendation by external professionals
- Agreed compliance with the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics
- Demonstration of personal qualities essential for working with people, such as:
- demonstrated responsibility
- sensitivity to the needs of people
- commitment to service
- understanding of biblical compassion, mercy, and justice
- value orientation consistent with the social work profession
These qualities in the student will be assessed by the social work faculty and field instructors. Graduates of this program receive the Bachelor of Social Work degree and may also choose to earn the Bachelor of Science in Bible degree.