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School offers new certificate in global transmigration

Starting this fall, the School of Social Work and UNC’s Center for Global Initiatives will launch a new program that aims to better prepare students for working with immigrant populations.

Applications are now being accepted for the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration—a program that is open to all UNC graduate students who wish to acquire a specialization in issues of human migration, immigration, transnational migration, or refugee work, whether internationally or domestically focused. The certificate may be awarded to students at either the master’s or doctoral level.

Josh Hinson, MSW ’04, program director and a social work clinical instructor, spent nearly two years developing and designing the program. Such a certificate is greatly needed, he said, especially in North Carolina where there is an increasing demand for skilled social workers who can help meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.

“North Carolina has been a huge site for growth in the immigrant population nationwide,” he said. “We had the largest rate of growth in the Latino population in the 1990s, and we’re one of the largest recipients of refugees in the nation.” Currently, the state is home to the country’s fourth largest community of Hmong, an Asian ethnic minority group.

School leaders began to think more seriously about developing a certificate program after learning that social work students were encountering these diverse groups more and more in their field work with government agencies, nonprofits and nongovernment organizations. They were also eager to support those students who were specifically drawn to the social work field because of a desire to work with these populations, Hinson said.

Many of these same students requested that the School develop courses and integrate other opportunities for teaching cultural competency around work with immigrants and refugees. Those requests led to further conversations and surveys, including with alumni and field providers, to fully gauge the need for such a program.

“And what our research showed was that social work students are currently underprepared to provide linguistically and culturally competent services to immigrant populations,” Hinson said.

School leaders are confident that the Certificate in Global Transmigration can help to strengthen students’ skills. Those who enroll in the program should expect to:

  • Review current academic research on social, political, and economic trends of worldwide human migration, including the human consequences such as effects on health, mental health, behavior, and individual and family development.
  • Achieve core competencies necessary for serving those most affected by transmigration, and to disseminate evidence-based practices for serving these populations in health, human services, and policy settings.
  • Develop an individual professional development plan for achieving core competencies with a specific migrant, immigrant, transmigrant, or refugee population or area of practice.
  • Engage in needs assessment and intervention/program development with a selected population affected by transmigration, and to present this work in a conference setting.

Although the certificate is only offered to current UNC graduate students, Hinson hopes to eventually open it up to community practitioners and agencies that provide services to immigrants and refugees. Long-term, his sights are set even higher with an eye toward the School developing research around services and policy to address the needs of these populations.

“I’d really like for us to become a national leader,” he said.