The School of Social Work offers an option for international field placement to MSW students from all concentrations during the spring and summer semesters. The international field placement option is open to students in their second year of field with a demonstrated interest in international/cross-cultural work and who have taken serious steps to prepare for an international experience.
The School of Social Work has established relationships with several countries and continues to build partnerships in other countries through international exchange.
The relationship between UConn and Yerevan State University provides an invaluable experience for students wishing to do international research and field study, and is an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural learning and networking. Students engaging in the course and/or travel experience can expect to learn differing approaches to social work and social welfare systems, as well as gaining cultural knowledge and expertise about Armenia. Students should expect to be part of a research delegation, and field research will be a significant component of their time spent in Armenia.
Jamaica/West Indies University of West Indies
Students have been placed in community organizations, hospitals and family agencies in Jamaica.
At times students request placement in a particular country of interest where the School of Social Work does not have established partnerships. Efforts may be made to accommodate these requests. Successful placement is contingent on developing a working partnership with a School of Social Work in the country/region/city, or with an organization or agency that can support the student and meet their educational needs. It is most helpful if an MSW-level social worker is available “on the ground” to supervise the student.
Students may apply to complete part of their second (advanced) year field placement in another country.
Students seeking an international field placement:
- Should initiate their plans during the first semester of field.
- Will be required to complete up to 50% of their second year field placement hours in a supplementary field placement locally, taken concurrently with concentration courses.
- Should assess feasibility regarding time, coursework, finances and language capability.
In no circumstances will a student who experiences difficulties in the first year of class or field be permitted to pursue an international placement.
Kyle Barrette ‘14, UNICEF fellowship in India
As a fellow representing the U.S., Kyle joined a team evaluating UNICEF’s Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) program being implementing in the northern state of Bihar. Kyle performed field research and held focus groups in 12 different villages and schools. With the completion of fieldwork, a report was made and will be used to advocate and help bring the program to other parts of India where UNICEF operates.
“This experience has caused me to expand my conceptualization of the social work profession and has allowed me to see the important role that social workers can play in international development efforts. As I move forward from this experience I plan to advocate for further integration of social workers within international development efforts and for the expansion of international content in social work curriculum.”
Shannon Bali, Guatemala
“Spending a semester in Guatemala was one of the greatest experiences of my life. For my placement abroad, I worked with an organization called DESGUA (Desarrollo Sostenible para Guatemala, or Sustainable Development for Guatemala). The organization focused on improving social, cultural, economic, and educational conditions and opportunities in Guatemala through community organizing. My experiences with these projects brought what we learned in the classroom to life. I was able to better understand the importance of self-determination, how to help organize in a community in which I am an outsider, and work toward cultural sensitivity.”
Gwendolyn Williams ‘12, University of West Indies
“My international internship at the University of the West Indies (UWI) was literally life changing. As a social worker the experience was invaluable. It challenged me to step outside of the micro perspective of the world as a US citizen. It afforded me an opportunity to view the world through the multicultural macro lens of a developing country. I am forever indebted to the UConn International Studies department.”
International Field Placement Fund
Students interested in participating in an international field placement are now able to apply for funding that will help with expenses. For more information, contact Rebecca Thomas.
Within the past several years, UConn School of Social Work has received an increase in student requests to do international field placements. Often students are unable to follow through due to financial constraints, which led to the development of a scholarship fund for students doing international field placements.
Dr. Lynne Healy (in conjunction with corporate matching) established a fund for international student placements. Dr. Healy has been an invaluable asset to the development of international social work as a discipline, and her expertise has been vital in making UConn one of the forerunners in international social work education. Dr. Robin Spath, who also had corporate matching for her donation, recently expanded the fund.
The fund is not endowed; therefore, scholarship awards will range from $1500-2000, with student need being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.