Campus News

New social work minor applicable to many fields

A student in a social work class reads a brochure from the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. (Photo by Laurie Anderson)

This fall, the University of Georgia is launching a new minor in social work designed to prepare students with skills that will enhance their success no matter what career path they choose.

The recently approved 18-credit undergraduate minor builds competence in areas crucial to today’s workplace. Topics include diversity, equity and inclusion, verbal and nonverbal communication, critical thinking, policy analysis, advocacy and conflict resolution, among others.

“The minor was created to allow students across majors to benefit from the skills and competencies provided by social work education,” said Leon Banks, director of the undergraduate social work program. “The minor will also help students from across the university see social work as a viable career option.”

Now is the perfect time to take social work courses, whether or not one plans to be a social worker, said Ellen Pauloski, the undergraduate program advisor who developed the proposal for the minor.

“Social work teaches valuable concepts and skills that complement many different programs of study,” she said.

Sophomore Maeve Akiko Breathnach said she added the social work minor due to her interest in human rights and a desire to promote an equitable, sustainable society. The economics major in the Terry College of Business is minoring in Spanish and plans to attend law school after college and work in immigration law and policy.

“Social work’s emphasis on culturally responsive work and its activism component will help me be a better advocate,” she said.

Freshman Jehlen Cannady, who plays for the Georgia Bulldog football team, wants to become a kinesiotherapist. He believes social work courses will prepare him to provide support for injured athletes during their rehabilitation process and potentially help him mentor adolescents with troubled childhoods.

“I love helping people from all walks of life,” said Cannady.

Reasons like these encourage Banks and Pauloski to continue broadening access to social work courses.

“We want to make components of the social work curriculum accessible to nonmajors and a supplement to their chosen major,” Pauloski said, “as well as a potential gateway to interest in the Master of Social Work program.”

At least one student enrolled in the minor already has plans to continue toward a master’s in social work. Senior Kelly Guthrie plans to eventually become a licensed clinical social worker. For now, the human development and family science major in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences sees the social work minor as a way to learn more about mental illness, poverty and justice.

“I want to learn many perspectives on ways to help people,” she said.

Students from any major may enroll in the social work minor. The minor requires that students complete three lower-division courses—Introduction to Social Work, Communication as a Helping Professional, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—as well as nine hours of upper-division electives. Electives include Maymester study away opportunities in Ghana and Northern Ireland.

For more information about the social work minor, contact Ellen Pauloski at