Chapter Activities

Activity 1: Who Is in Charge?

Give students copies of the table below. Working in pairs, they should go through the list of activities and allocate them as exclusive powers of the federal government, exclusive powers of state governments, shared between the federal and state governments, or typically powers of local governments (including towns, cities, and counties).

Appropriate money on programs to promote welfare of residents

Establish local governments

Oversee parks and recreation

Borrow money

Establish military

Oversee post office

Build highways and other major public works

Establish state constitution

Oversee transportation

Charter banks and corporations

Exercise powers not specifically delegated to federal government

Print money

Conduct elections

Issue licenses

Protect against fire

Conduct policing

Make and enforce laws

Provide for public health and safety

Create and collect taxes

Oversee city zoning and planning

Ratify amendments to U.S. Constitution

Declare war

Oversee economic development

Ratify treaties with other governments

Enforce state constitution

Oversee education

Regulate commerce between states and countries

Enforce U.S. Constitution

Oversee human services

Regulate intrastate commerce (within one state)

Establish courts

Oversee municipal public works



Activity 2: Amendment Reflection

Instruct students to work individually to outline the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. They should then pick one that may need to be amended and write a response, explaining why it should be amended.

Activity 3: Find a Social Work Legislator

This activity is the intermediate- and advanced-level versions of the “Advocacy: Find a Social Work Legislator” activity in Chapter 2 on page 42.

Intermediate level: Reach out to his/her/their office to see if you can set up a telephone or in-person meeting to ask them about:

  1. Whether and how did social work influence their decision to run for office?
  2. What social work skills or values inform their work as a legislator?
  3. What message would they want to share with social work students?

Advanced level: Shadow a legislator or one of their aides to see what their work is like. (Former Connecticut State Representative Chris Lyddy did this during his BSW program, and it propelled him into public service.)