Dispelling ideas about what social work is, and is not


To dispel common myths and deconstruct misconceptions associated with social work, students, staff, faculty, and alumni from Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice host an annual “Shout Out” on Locust Walk. Their goal is to get the facts about social work out to those who may not really know what it is. Compiled from an informal poll taken from students, staff, faculty, and alumni from the School, here are five things that you may not know about the social work profession. 

  • Social work is more than just child welfare 

There’s more to the profession than people think. In human service agencies, mental health clinics, prisons, military bases, homeless shelters, hospitals, and schools, social workers are everywhere creating a better society. They are counseling families, addicts and veterans; protecting against recidivism; helping seniors find community resources; leading non-profit organizations; and conducting empirical research

  • Social workers are social justice change agents

How can they bring about social change? One way, is through making sure everyone has a voice and a seat the table. Social workers engage in difficult conversations every day: in the classroom and in the community, with people from differing backgrounds and perspectives to address inequality and reform. 

  • Social workers are thought leaders 

Every day, social workers are on the frontlines, addressing some of the world’s most intractable social justice and policy issues. At the community, institutional, and governmental level, social workers act as advocates negotiating for policy reform

  • Social workers are educators

The reason the students, faculty, and staff stand outside on Locust Walk to do an annual “Shout Out for Social Work” is because they want to inform people about what they do while celebrating the impact they have in the Philadelphia community and nationwide.

  • Social workers are life-long learners 

At the School of Social Policy & Practice, those undergraduate students who want the challenge of working directly with clients or with community-based social service organizations have the ability to earn a dual-degree through a sub-matriculation opportunity, the bachelor’s of arts and master’s of social work degree. Social work licensure requires continuing education.