This year, as the nation honors the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Johnson Administration’s War on Poverty, Berkeley Social Welfare’s Management and Planning program is celebrating its own five-decade milestone.
Introduced at the School of Social Welfare as the Community Organizing and Administration (CO&A) concentration, and eventually undergoing a name change in the mid-1970s to Organization, Planning and Administration before becoming Management and Planning – or MAP, for short – the program has produced generations of social work leaders and professionals seeking to improve the systems and influence the policies affecting society’s most vulnerable members.
To help prepare students who were eager to promote social change through community organization, School of Social Welfare Professor Emeritus and doctoral alumnus Ralph Kramer (PhD ’64) was hired by longtime Dean Milton Chernin to run a program tailored to meet the demands of agency operation and community work. Additionally, School Professors Emeriti Bob Pruger and Leonard Miller as well as Professor Neil Gilbert taught core courses in the program.
According to Berkeley Social Welfare Professor, MAP alumnus and current Program Director Michael Austin (MSW ’66), Dr. Kramer’s goals in helping establish the School’s first formal community organization program was to work “with faculty to develop a macro practice concentration that would complement the direct service focus of the MSW program,” which at the time included psychiatric social work, medical social work and juvenile corrections. In its initial iteration, CO&A was a second-year program with practice courses in community organization and administration as well as field placement service three days per week.
Distinguished alumna and founder of the pioneering human services agency the Unity Council, Arabella Martinez (MSW ’66), who, like Dr. Austin, was a graduate of the program’s second cohort, distinctly recalls the “focus on community and administration.” “The School of Social Welfare is where I first learned how to write proposals and work with boards of directors,” she says.
“People in our group were very much interested in systems change,” remembers Dr. Austin. “Community organizing was part and parcel of the learning. My classmates had connections in the different communities and maintained and grew them.”
As the political radicalism of the late 1960s settled into the 1970s and early-1980s Reagan Era, the social work field similarly evolved, as did Berkeley Social Welfare’s graduate program. “Social work began to move towards a more established space, and there was a curriculum shift to management and planning,” notes Dr. Gilbert. “The idea was that agencies would need people with management skills. Our academic program began to focus more on social planning and technical, research-oriented aspects of community practice.”
During this period, the School also started prioritizing diverse professional experiences. “The School began to institute a ‘preference’ in our admissions by asking incoming students to have at least two years of some kind of paid experience in the field,” explains Dr. Gilbert. “The idea was that if students came in with a ‘real-world’ understanding, their expectations of their graduate education and professional training would better align.”
Anne Wilson (MSW ’79), CEO of the United Way of the Bay Area and a graduate of the CO&A program, was one such example of a student seasoned with real-world experience. Wilson had spent three years as a probation officer after completing her undergraduate degree before deciding to pursue her MSW. “I learned a lot from my classmates, who almost all had come from jobs in the field and could draw from their experiences for classroom discussions,” she says.
The interactions and shared discussions within cohorts have continued to be cited by successive generations of program alumni as one of the most important aspects of their graduate education. “My cohort was an incredible group,” says Andrea DuBrow (MSW ’98). She notes that among her MAP class are high-level administrators in the City and County of San Francisco Human Services Agency; the State Department of Corrections; CASA, Alameda County; and the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Agency.
DuBrow, herself, is field consultant for the MAP program. Like her predecessors – Bari Cornet, who filled the role from 1990-2010, Barbara Weiss, who expanded the fieldwork program from 1966-90, and Doris Britt, who coordinated the fieldwork program from 1963-66 and eventually assumed duties in the admissions office – DuBrow provides the all-important service of matching MAP students with challenging field placements and ensuring that they are maximizing learning opportunities and goals through internship experiences.
As for today’s MAP program, which benefits from the teaching and contributions of Professors Jill Duerr Berrick and Julian Chow in addition to Drs. Gilbert and Austin’s ongoing work, the ever-changing context and evolving complexity of managing human service agencies and nonprofits – along with the students’ understanding and anticipation of those realities – have strongly influenced classroom learning. “In the last 20 years, the nature of student expectations have helped to shape the reformulating of the curriculum,” says Dr. Austin.
Dr. Austin notes that in looking to the future, themes centering on the use of technology to manage and improve organizational operations as well as an orientation to database decision-making and evidence-informed management practice will continually grow in importance in MAP curricula. He also hopes to further emphasize the increasing need for inter-agency collaboration in human services – a point echoed by program alumni.
“Inter-agency collaboration is hugely important,” insists Martinez. “That’s fundamental because you can’t have silos. They don’t work.”
“Boundary busting is really important,” says Wilson. “MAP students have to know that if they want to work in the community organizing or policy- and systems-changing spaces, the private sector is a part of that, and it needs to be at the table. The public, nonprofit and private sectors working together – that’s the future.”
“Our field is in need of smart and creative people who understand policy, program development, systems issues and social justice,” adds DuBrow. “The School of Social Welfare can help by offering the most current and rigorous internships and classroom experiences that draw on existing and anticipated future needs of the communities we serve.”
Berkeley Social Welfare congratulates the MAP program and faculty on 50 years of educating and training outstanding and visionary leaders in the field.