Student experiential learning

The School of Social Work's commitment to advance the Grand Challenges for Social Work – a 10-year initiative established by the profession in 2017 to address 12 urgent social problems, is evidenced in its research and community engagement initiatives addressing poverty, child welfare, interpersonal violence, health disparities and behavioral health. The Center for Behavioral Health and Justice enhances that commitment by offering students the opportunity to work proactively in the criminal/legal area to promote 'Smart Decarceration' initiatives for members of our community.

MSW Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership

Students, particularly those in the Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership (ICPL) concentration, will find involvement in the Center an exciting opportunity to learn more about the criminal/legal system, to participate in community-wide intervention, and to formulate innovative ideas for criminal/legal reform. Working under the supervision of our MSW Project Coordinators, students will be exposed to a variety of site-specific tasks. These tasks include jail site visits, process mapping, facilitating meetings with community stakeholders, action planning, and training. Simultaneously, students will acquire research-related skills such as data collection, entry, and analysis, as well as report writing. Students involved in center activities will be well positioned to become the 'boundary spanners' of the next generation.

BSW Inside/Out

Center members Dean Sheryl Kubiak and Assistant Professor Erin Comartin have been trained in the facilitation of the Inside/Out Prison Exchange model of teaching. This model of teaching provides university (outside) students the opportunity to share a semester long class with individuals currently incarcerated in a state prison (inside students). Course content facilitates discussion of policy and social welfare between these diverse groups of students, transforming their pre-conceived notions about each other and the 'real world' implications of policy. While at Michigan State University, Dean Kubiak taught four years of successful Inside/Out courses involving BSW students. Many of these students formed a commitment to social policy and criminal/legal reforms. Assistant Professor Comartin will be working to facilitate an Inside/Out course at WSU within the next year.

For more information on experiential learning opportunities available through the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, please contact Assistant Professor Erin Comartin at