Students from Switzerland will learn alongside Wright State University students in a unique comparative social work course during the next two weeks on the Dayton campus.
The class Comparative Social Welfare: U.S. and Switzerland includes 10 students from Zurich University of Applied Sciences School of Social Work and 10 Wright State students. Four Zurich University faculty members are also on the trip and will co-teach the course with Carl Brun, Ph.D., professor and chair of Wright State’s Department of Social Work.
The course will analyze the social welfare systems in the U.S. and Switzerland, comparing each country’s approach to child welfare, older adults, poverty and criminal justice. Students will work on group projects related to the social issues discussed in class.
The objective of the course, Brun said, is to help students understand social policies in their own country in comparison to those of another country. Noting that Switzerland’s social welfare system is considerably different from ours, Brun said, “I hope students reflect on our system and make some judgments about both systems.”
The course is also part of the social work program’s efforts to expand its international focus, Brun said.
The course will be taught from June 24 to July 5. Classes will be held weekday mornings. Each weekday afternoon, Zurich and Wright State students and faculty will visit local social service agencies, including the United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton, Montgomery County Job and Family Services, Montgomery County Children Services and the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
The class will also attend meetings of the Montgomery County Commission and Dayton City Commission, where Brun will give presentations.
In addition, students will volunteer at the House of Bread, a nonprofit organization that serves meals to those in need. Brun said all social work students are required to do some kind of advocacy work, and “volunteering is one way to meet that requirement. Advocacy is an important part of social work.”
Beyond the coursework, students and faculty will tour the Dayton Art Institute and the Peace Museum, attend two receptions and visit Chicago. Support for the Swiss visitors was provided by local companies, including Vectren, which donated tickets to the Dayton Air Show.
A similar class will be offered in the summer of 2014 in Switzerland. The class is open to all Wright State students.