PURPOSE AND GOALS
The need for expanded education and action on poverty is clear. The U.S. poverty rate has been rising for the last few years to its current level of ~13%, with nearly one child in five living in poverty. Locally, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004 identified Cleveland as the poorest city in the U.S. with a poverty rate of 31%. The same report showed that almost half of Cleveland children are poor, the highest rate in U.S. cities with populations above 250,000. Global poverty statistics are particularly grim, with nearly half of the people on our planet (~2.7 billion) living on less than $2 per day, accompanied by high levels of malnutrition, infectious disease, and environmental degradation.
Efforts to address a complex social problem like poverty require well-educated citizens and professionals with a significant understanding of poverty who can apply analytical thinking, social commitment, and specific professional skills to this issue. The Poverty and Solidarity program seeks enhance student learning about poverty through
• Development of an interdisciplinary course and summer internship sequence for students seeking a deeper understanding of poverty
• Creation of interdisciplinary and discipline-based courses that will embed the study of poverty throughout the curriculum
• Establishment of a public lecture series to educate both the university and Greater Cleveland communities on poverty
Specifically, the program's goals for students are the following:
• Be able to describe, explain, and analyze the complex, systemic nature of poverty, both domestic and global, including causes, consequences, and solutions
• Articulate a worldview that leads to concern for and action on behalf of the poor
• Demonstrate increased levels of engagement (both on and off campus) with issues related to poverty
• Display greater awareness of career opportunities for addressing poverty by students majoring in areas not traditionally associated with human services, e.g. public health for pre-health students, non-profit management and social entrepreneurship for business students.