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SP2 and National Education Equity Lab launch high school course in social work and social policy

Several seated students appear in profile, one focused on her desk and two looking forward and smiling.

Authored by: Juliana Rosati

Photography by: Krista Patton

Student Life


This spring, underserved high school students engaged in the National Education Equity Lab will have the opportunity to learn about the career paths, challenges, and triumphs of social work and social policy professionals from experts at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2).

An SP2 team led by SP2 Lecturer Caroline Wong, MSW, has produced the new online course “Introduction to the Social Work/Social Policy Profession,” which has been launched as a pilot for the National Education Equity Lab’s curriculum of online college credit-bearing courses  provided in teacher-led high school classrooms. Co-taught by Wong and SP2 PhD in Social Welfare Program Coordinator Emily Rich, LSW, the course explores the profession of social work and social policy, the rich career opportunities within the profession, and the skills and education required.

The SP2 team also includes SP2 Director of Instructional Design and Educational Technology Nicole Auge, MS, along with several SP2 students who are teaching fellows for the course: Kristin Bassett of the Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (DSW) Program, Jessie Rios Benitez of the Master of Science in Social Policy Program, and Alisha Fletcher of the DSW Program.

Former SP2 board member Vivian Zelter is director of strategic partnerships at the National Education Equity Lab, which has served 300 high schools in 29 states. By enabling high school students from historically underserved communities to take college courses, the organization aims to help students build the skills and confidence to apply to and thrive in college.

“The Lab is incredibly honored to have this partnership with SP2,” says Zelter. “The new college course gives high schoolers in communities that we reach a powerful opportunity to learn about the role and importance of social work in our society.”

The new course explores contemporary social issues viewed through the lens of social work and social policy, articulates the underlying values and assumptions of the field, and develops students’ skills in critical thinking, technical writing, research, oral presentations, resume writing, and interviewing.