December 14, 2020


As the Semester Ends


Dear Students,

First, congratulations to our December class of graduating BSW students! You have now become professional social workers and our colleagues!

No doubt this has been a challenging semester and we are nearing the end of a challenging year! Each of us has had our own experience of this time. For some there have been profound losses of loved ones. Some of us have cared for others or have been ill ourselves. We have experienced the loss of what we wished things could be as we learned how to accept and adapt to how things are. Yet, with every challenge, there can be change, growth, newfound resolve and strength.

The resilience and commitment of our students and faculty have been inspiring! Our compassion and support of one another have been our bedrock. We are appreciative of the communication and feedback we've had from you regarding your needs and what has and hasn't been helpful as we moved through these months of learning new ways to teach and learn. As a result of your feedback, we've taken some steps that we hope will lead to improvements in the first semester of 2021.

For example, we have developed a departmental AsULearn template to create more consistency across all courses in our department. We have met with the learning technology team to discuss ways to improve communication and engagement in courses. We have learned how to better utilize the AsULearn calendar and other features for assignments and course activities so students can have more clarity regarding what is coming up in their courses. Faculty members have agreed to keep due dates consistent with the days their face-to-face or synchronous online courses meet or to have regular, consistent due dates in asynchronous courses. We have discussed the need for a routine structure and using a variety of formats for delivering course content so students don't always have to stare at a computer screen. We have clarified the expectations for contact hours for a 3 credit hour course and how that can be accomplished in face-to-face, synchronous, and asynchronous delivery formats.

In response to feedback regarding student wellbeing, I'm pleased to share that, with the support of Dean Marie Huff, in the spring we will be expanding the Social Work Care Collaborative to include services for App State main campus and online/distance education students. Our focus will be on wellness, prevention, filling service gaps, and increasing support and access. For the last two years, we have been developing the SW Care Collaborative in the Beaver College of Health Sciences interprofessional clinic. The Collaborative services are provided by undergraduate and graduate students completing their field placements under the supervision of SW faculty. Stay tuned for more information!

On another note, you may recall that last spring our college conducted a survey of students' perspectives regarding our college and departmental Inclusive Excellence efforts. The social work faculty have reviewed your comments and feedback about our department and are committed to advancing our efforts to promote a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all. We take your concerns seriously and are working to address them. As we move forward, we encourage your participation and ongoing dialogue.

I hope each of you will have a restful and restorative break. May 2021 bring renewed energy and hope.

Warm regards,

Lauren Renkert
Lauren E. Renkert, PhD, LCSW
Chair, Department of Social Work



Welcome to the Department of Social Work at Appalachian State University! Accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and housed within the Beaver College of Health Sciences, the Department of Social Work offers both undergraduate (BSW) and graduate (MSW) programs. The Department provides a collaborative and supportive community with dedicated faculty and quality instruction. We offer academic, social, service, international/study abroad, and field (internship) opportunities for students as they develop into social work professionals.

Guided by an overarching framework of social and economic justice, our mission is to promote the well-being of individuals, families, groups and communities. Our programs assist students in developing competencies for ethically and culturally competent social work practice within the distinct Appalachian culture of the region and across national and international contexts. Students in both programs complete field placements (internship opportunities) in the region in order to integrate their coursework with experiences in social service and human service agencies.

According to the National Association of Social Workers (n.d.), social workers are "people who care about people, who want to make things better, who want to relieve suffering, who want their work to make a difference" (para. 1). Social work is a growing and dynamic field, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects continued employment growth through 2022. With a degree in social work, you will be prepared for practice in hospitals and nursing homes, health departments, mental health centers, child and family service agencies, substance abuse programs, group homes and residential education programs, schools, correctional facilities, departments of social services, housing programs and shelters, domestic violence programs, advocacy agencies, legislative offices, community development and community planning organizations, non-governmental/community-based organizations, non-profit/grassroots organizations, international programs and international development, and other public and private human service agencies and programs.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about the profession of social work and our undergraduate (BSW) and graduate (MSW) programs.


See what two social workers think about the profession from their TED Talks: