John Robertson

Dr. John Robertson is a policy expert who teaches Social Welfare Policy, Policy Practice, and Advocacy in Social Work Practice at the Columbia School of Social Work. He is a longtime resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where he practices social work at the Duncan Genns elder housing development and works in two community gardens alongside other Bushwick residents. His interests include community development and organization, employment and family issues, and treatment for people struggling with substance abuse. He has also worked with newly released federal inmates as they return to family, employment, and their communities. Dr. Robertson has worked on several national policy research initiatives related to poor families, their employment, family formation, and receipt of public assistance. He spent ten years teaching a lobbying course at the Missouri State Legislature and was part of a group that met with every member of New York City’s congressional delegation to rally support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. A former monk, he continues to live by the Franciscan values of humility, love, and joy, and the belief that “if you want to find hope, you have to be present with and move with and live with people who are struggling, not just for them but for yourself.” He holds a BA in Economics from St. John’s College, University of Manitoba; an MSW from Rutgers University; and a PhD in Labor Economics and Social Policy from the Columbia School of Social Work.

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Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy (Coursera)

Dec 6th 2021
Poverty & Population: How Demographics Shape Policy (Coursera)
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This course has four modules, or foci. The first is to understand the categories of social welfare—populations, income, earnings, and assets— and some related concepts that play a very large role in shaping policy decisions: unemployment, inflation, and the minimum wage. The second deals with the central [...]
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US Social Services: Where did they come from? (Coursera)

Dec 6th 2021
US Social Services: Where did they come from? (Coursera)
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The course probes the formation of social policy in the United States from its very first cultural and religious roots. Starting with the transition from hunter-gatherer groups to agrarian villages, the course will examine the passage of the Poor Laws that shaped social policy through the colonial [...]
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US Social Services Compared (Coursera)

Dec 6th 2021
US Social Services Compared (Coursera)
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In all nations, social policy is a very large public investment. Course 1 will explore the size, structure, and outcomes of U.S. social policy and compare this policy to those of similar developed countries. The course will also probe the values this policy represents and the values [...]
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Health, Housing, and Educational Services (Coursera)

Dec 6th 2021
Health, Housing, and Educational Services (Coursera)
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Course 5 discusses policies in four areas: housing, education, healthcare, and immigration, with an optional fifth module in child protection. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. What you will learn: describe the structures of US policy in each of the course’s domains: Housing, schools, healthcare, [...]
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Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities (Coursera)

Dec 6th 2021
Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities (Coursera)
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Course 4 discusses four populations: families, poor families, people with disabilities, and people as they age. This course addresses issues of power, oppression, and white supremacy. What You Will Learn: formulate practice strategies to overcome the historic biases in social welfare programs; distinguish the values inherent in each social [...]
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