Mandel School's 'Classroom Without Walls': Offering tuition-free access to social work education

Students sitting at desks in a Mandel Building classroom

The Mandel School has created a new transformative educational model called Classroom Without Walls (CWW). Launching in the spring, it will bring together community members with bachelor's degrees and significant applied human service experience to learn alongside traditional MSW graduate students. Community learners will gain technical skills that enhance their careers, lives and communities and receive a $1,000 stipend to remove barriers to class participation. These individuals can enroll tuition-free for up to three classes—providing them increased access to advanced education and a pathway toward a Mandel School MSW degree.

The pilot course is SASS 518: Social Work with Death, Grief and Loss (3 credits). It is open to all CWRU graduate students and advanced undergraduates.

This course focuses on the concept of death and related topics from a social work perspective. Such topics include the role of death in American culture; the dying process and its institutions; assessment and intervention strategies; life span and family life considerations; and end-of-life decisions. The course provides both theoretical and experiential exposure to the dying process as it relates to self, the dying person, and the bereaved. Additionally, other forms of loss such as divorce, independence, and physical/cognitive functioning will be explored. Students will gain insight into intervening with those experiencing loss and grief across the life course including those terminally ill, those clients dealing with difficult life-and-death decisions regarding loved ones.

A community consultant will be involved in the class—Yvonne Pointer, who is a nationally-known Cleveland anti-violence activist, author, motivational speaker, philanthropist and member of the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame. She is the founder of Positive Plus, a support group for women who have lost children through violence, and a co-founder of Parents Against Child Killing. She has also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Learn more about the course.