In class, I announced a reminder about an upcoming room change. The students and I moved from the seats and desks and chalk boards of Ryder Hall to a slightly more spacious “open” classroom in the Curry Student Center. “Wear comfortable clothes,” I told the students. “Be prepared.” It was our day of play. It was a chance to DO the work of class, applying the theories and themes from a semester discussing course content in child maltreatment, school failure, mental illness, and delinquency.
Using frameworks from social work, psychology, public health, sociology and family studies, students explore “best practices” as defined by the field known as prevention science. In this course, students use the lens of prevention science to examine the social and economic feasibility and effectiveness of universal and selective prevention, intervention, and treatment programs on a wide range of contemporary social problems. While the social problems we investigate are grand, the course considers both micro (small) and macro (large) solutions. Play is just one of the many mechanisms we consider to help promote success. It is also a time to let off steam, have fun, laugh, be silly (college students dancing!), and learn about a promising intervention for children and families.
Through several different play activities, the students explored course themes and reflected on the many case examples we reviewed over the semester. Through games, students considered issues of child development, barriers of successful development, and possible mechanisms of strength and resilience. One game asked students to think outside of their comfort zone, to consider saying and doing the opposite of what they think they should do. As some students made errors and got (slightly) frustrated, they considered what it is like to be different, to have different abilities, to have limitations that hinder their goals. These little setbacks provided a forum for bigger discussions about equality, opportunity, and an individual’s ability to change and succeed.
In this course, students assessed the role of policies, programs, and practices to reduce social problems and enhance positive outcomes for children, their families, and their communities. We examined evidence based programs and practices that consider educational, social and economic outcomes. Through readings, the viewing of documentaries, class discussions, and play, students developed an understanding the complex causes of social problems, and the targets and timing of successful preventions and interventions.
Promoting Success through Prevention Science will be offered Summer I 2014
Associate Academic Specialist
Department of Human Services