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Human Services (HSRV) 322

Policies in the Human Services (Revision 1)

Revision 1 closed, replaced by current version.

Delivery Mode:Individualized study.


Area of Study:Social Science


Centre:Centre for Work and Community Studies

HSRV 322 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course maps the policies and practices that shape human services in Western societies, from their antecedents in England and the United States through to the post-welfare social strategies of the present day.

The course reviews formative historical events, policies, and social programs and analyses these precedents and their influence on social policy according to three principal factors: the ideas behind the policies, their influence on subsequent policy developments, and their relation to other key features of social policy.

  1. Underlying ideas. These can be political, ideological, economic, religious, or social, or some combination of these basic ideas.
  2. Formative impact. Subsequent social policies rapidly become constrained by ideas and policies introduced earlier.
  3. Related approaches to social services that have emerged subsequently continue to draw on a small number of policy options.


HSRV 322 is divided into two parts, each containing five units, as outlined below.

Part 1: Ideology's Effects on Policies in the Human Services

  • Part 1 discusses the place of values and commitments in human services activities and education and the function of ideology in policy development and service outcomes. Particularly influential ideologies such as libertarianism,
    conservatism, liberalism, and progressivism are considered in turn.

Part 2: Policy Evolution: Historical and Modern

  • Part 2 examines four time periods (eras) that stretch from the beginning of human services policy to the present. From the Poor Laws introduced in sixteenth-century England to the progressive era in the early twentieth-century United States, and on through what had ironically been named the “Golden Age of Policy,” Part 2 examines what approaches were invented to serve disadvantaged people. The last two units tell a different story that involves retrenchment and so marks a return to some of the early ideas about human care.

Course Objectives

This course assumes that students have no prior knowledge of human services education, though students who have taken Human Services 311: Practice and Policy in the Human Services, or who come to the course with some knowledge of the human services sector, may find the material somewhat less difficult. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the ways in which ideas and values coalesce to inform and direct policy-making. However, those who have work or volunteer experience in the human services sector or related fields will quickly begin to see ideological aspects of policies that have informed their activities as human services practitioners.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate ways in which ideas and values coalesce to inform and direct policy making.
  2. Summarize the function of ideology in policy development and service outcomes.
  3. Elaborate the content and impact of several influential ideologies relevant to the human services.
  4. Provide an historical overview of broad policies or eras of human services policy development.
  5. Evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of values, ideologies, policies and eras on disadvantaged people.


Your final grade in HSRV 322 Policies in the Human Services will be based on the grades you achieve on the four written assignments. To receive credit for the course, you must achieve an overall course grade of “D” (50 percent) or better. The following indicates the assignments for credit and their weighting toward your final grade.

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Assignment 4 Total
10% 25% 35% 30% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


George, Vic and Paul Wilding. 1985. Ideology and Social Welfare. New York: Routledge.

Tester, Frank and R. Case, eds. 1999. Critical Choices, Turbulent Times, Volume II: Retreat and resistance in the reform of Canadian social policy. Vancouver: School of Social Work, University of British Columbia.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a study guide, student manual and a reading file.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, Aug 16/02.

Last updated by SAS  09/10/2013 11:52:40