Mission and Goals


The Social Work Department at Niagara University is committed to the creation of a just and compassionate world, where human dignity and cultural diversity are restored, preserved and celebrated, and where social and economic choices and opportunities are fairly distributed among all members of our diverse and interconnected world. Education for social work is accomplished through a curriculum that combines a solid liberal arts perspective with social work foundation courses. Within the social work curriculum, our special concern is for poor and at-risk populations living in our region and beyond.

Given this commitment, the mission of the Social Work Department at Niagara University is the preparation of competent generalist social work practitioners capable of empowering practice with diverse client systems of all sizes and types, who act ethically, who think critically, who participate actively within the community, and who are committed to social and economic justice. Consistent with the Vincentian tradition of Niagara University, students and faculty engage in social service and social action activities to benefit at-risk populations and impoverished communities. In addition, social work faculty act on the mission through the development of knowledge for social work and as social work leaders at university, local, state, and national levels.

There are five major themes embedded in the department’s mission statement: 1. competent generalist social work practice; 2. empowerment of poor and at-risk populations; 3. social and economic justice. 4. service to poor and at-risk communities; and 5. knowledge development and leadership activities. Focusing on these themes has enabled the faculty to generate 5 program goals and 22 program objectives that help bring the mission alive in the daily experiences of students and faculty.

Program Goals

  1. Within the liberal arts tradition and following the Missions of Niagara University and the Social Work Program, the program aims to:
  2. Prepare competent generalist practitioners who are grounded in liberal arts and who integrate social work knowledge, values and skills with diverse client systems of various sizes and types
  3. Prepare graduates with special skills and knowledge to empower populations-at-risk and the poor
  4. Provide a foundation for graduates to demonstrate commitment to social and economic justice through active citizenship, social policy activism, and through improving social service delivery systems
  5. Provide a foundation for students to demonstrate concern for poor and at-risk populations in service learning and extra-curricular service activities
  6. Prepare graduates for employment in entry-level, generalist social work practice and graduate education.

Core Competencies

Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly

  • Advocate for client access to the services of social work
  • Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development
  • Attend to professional roles and boundaries
  • Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication
  • Engage in career-long learning
  • Use supervision and consultation

Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice

  • Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice
  • Make ethical decisions by applying standards of the NASW and or CASW Code of Ethics
  • Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts
  • Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions  

Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments

  • Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom
  • Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
  • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues

Engage diversity and difference in practice

  • Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
  • Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups
  • Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of differences in shaping life experiences
  • View themselves as learners and engage those whom they work as informants

Advance human rights and social and economic justice

  • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
  • Advocate for human rights and social justice
  • Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice

Engage in researched-informed practice and practice-informed research

  • Use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry
  • Use research evidence to inform practice

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment

  • Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the process of assessment, intervention, and evaluation
  • Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment

Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social services

  • Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being
  • Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action

Respond to context that shape practice

  • Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging trends to provide relevant services
  • Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services

Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities  


  • Substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
  • Use empathy and other interpersonal skills
  • Develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes


  • Collect, organize, and interpret client data
  • Assess client strengths and limitations
  • Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives
  • Select appropriate intervention strategies


  • Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals
  • Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities
  • Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients
  • Facilitate transitions and endings


  • Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions