Course Title: Advocacy and Social Action in a Global Context

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Advocacy and Social Action in a Global Context

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


330H Social Science & Planning


Sem 1 2006


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2014

Course Coordinator: Christine Craik

Course Coordinator Phone: +(61 3) 9925 2940

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course teaches advocacy and social action to promote social justice for disadvantaged groups. The context of advocacy work within the welfare state and a range of strategies are explored.

Over the past two decades global capitalism has rapidly expanded and the Australian welfare state—like other welfare states—has contracted. In contrast to the post-war period, public welfare has been reoriented to promote economic development and it is criticised for not protecting human rights or satisfying needs. Welfare recipients (and many others) are under more obligations to demonstrate their deservedness to receive assistance. For many, these changes have been dramatic as well as harmful. To redress these changes and to prevent further disadvantage, advocacy and social action are required.

 Advocacy and Social Action is both a theoretical and a practical course: it teaches you to critique social movements and the different concepts of the welfare state they correspond to, and to advocate for social change. The course will explore both the potential and the limitations of advocacy and social action. Different conceptions of power and protest are part of this exploration and the ‘tools’, skills and strategies of advocacy will be examined. Understanding competing interests and building alliances is part of advocacy and will be included in the strategies taught. Ethical issues are also considered. The course will include ‘everyday’ acts of advocacy as well as large scale campaigns. While the main focus is on the Australian welfare state, international projects are also included.

The starting point for this course is a commitment to equity, social justice and human rights. This does not mean that students (or staff) will necessarily agree on issues, practices or principles associated with advocacy and social action; nor will anyone be expected to adhere to a particular school of thought or line of argument. Differences of opinion will arise in discussions and you are expected to treat others with respect when they have different views to your own. You are expected to adopt an adult learning style with active participation in discussions and taking responsibility for your own learning.

Critical reflection is an important part of the course. You will be asked to consider your values, beliefs and attitudes towards advocacy and social action, be this ‘everyday’ organisational advocacy or large scale social action that might include confrontation.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course will develop the following capabilities:

  • Research
  • Critical analysis and evaluation
  • Strategic planning
  • Written expression
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Presentation and public speaking
  • Team building and negotiation

At the completion of the course it is expected that you will be able to: -

  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of social movements that lead to different concepts of the welfare state;
  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of the skills and strategies used in advocacy and social action;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how personal values, beliefs, attitudes and preferred communication styles/practices impact on advocacy and social action work;
  • Demonstrate a beginning understanding of complex advocacy decisions that include ethics, organisational constraints and legal issues
  • Demonstrate a beginning understanding of theoretical underpinnings and historical contexts of social action and advocacy in a range of fields
  • Demonstrate a beginning ability to apply the practical skills and strategies of advocacy.

Overview of Learning Activities

The course will be delivered through weekly workshops. In the first four weeks theoretical concepts relating to advocacy and social action will be examined, particularly as they relate to wide scale change. ‘New’ and ‘old’ welfare support systems will be examined. In the following six weeks the course will focus on advocacy and social action across all modes of social work. Social work is involved with: 1) Direct Practice; 2) Service Management; 3) Organisational Development and System Change; 4) Policy; 5) Research; and 6) Education and Professional Development. Worker’s rights, ‘everyday’ acts of advocacy and large scale projects will be examined throughout the course. In the final two weeks, students will present and speak to a conference type poster they have prepared that outlines an advocacy project.

Overview of Learning Resources

You will have access to a reader and suggestions for additional texts related to your interest area.

Overview of Assessment

There are two assessment tasks.

The first assignment will develop your understanding of social movements that have shaped the welfare state and welfare provision. You are required to compare and contrast two different social movements and to specify which movements you personally identify with.

The second assignment will develop your skills in planning and presenting an advocacy project of your choice. You can review and critique an existing advocacy project or plan a new project. You will present a visual display to the class that highlights underpinning values and beliefs, advocacy skills and strategies and any ethical, organisational or legal issues involved.