Why You Should Study Poverty
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Why You Should Study Poverty

Washington and Lee University students are keeping up with the increasing significance of economic inequality.

9579
Why You Should Study Poverty
Alabama Today

In the United States, the increasing wealth gap correlates with a gap in visibility. Poverty is often viewed as an individualized issue, rather than a pressing nationwide problem to be studied, defined, measured and solved.

The Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability of Washington and Lee University approaches the issue differently. More succinctly, this focuses on poverty and social justice, coordinated through interdisciplinary study and service opportunity. With Poverty and Human Capability Studies as the university's most popular minor, Washington and Lee students are keeping up with the increasing significance of economic inequality.

Balen Essak, a first-year student from Wisconsin, is currently enrolled in the Poverty 101 course and contributed to the conversation of why poverty should not only be recognized, but measured and solved.

"In the U.S., we always just talk about this threshold of how much money you have and if you don’t have that money, you’re impoverished," he said. "It’s possible to have well over the amount of money that you need but no access to the basic, fundamental liberties or rights that we need to have as humans, which also needs to be considered when we’re talking about poverty."

Shepherd program director and assistant professor Howard Pickett highlighted the environment that the liberal arts university creates.

"What are we here for? More narrowly, what are we in college for?" he said. "Certainly one thing we’re here for ... is to find our professional vocation, our career as you said. But we’re also here to find our personal and our civic vocations. I think that a liberal arts education certainly does prepare one to have a meaningful career, but it also prepares one for community membership or for citizenship. And I think poverty studies is especially appropriate place to prepare for [this]."

Assistant professor Kelly Brotzman added her thoughts about why students should study poverty.

"I think it’s important for today’s budding young college students and future leaders to understand that and to have a space where they can ask why that is and ask what role that plays in our society," she said.

Awareness of poverty and economic injustice doesn't just stop at the doors of the classroom. With its interdisciplinary nature, students learn to apply their focus of study to their careers.

"I think it’s really important for the folks we’re putting out into the world to understand how their future endeavors those who are struggling with poverty," Brotzman said. "It’s important for competent leaders and professionals in every field to know how their field engages low-income and poor populations, how it can better service low-income and poor populations, that goes for all our future lawyers, all of our future doctors, all of our future engineers, all of our future journalists, all of our future politicians, all of our future writers and thinkers and professors and so on."

Some current Shepherd Program students are already thinking about this, like sophomore Fon Teawdatwan, who is majoring in biology and minoring in both poverty and human capability studies and education.

"My goal is to become a pediatrician," she said. "If I want to be a well-rounded doctor and healthcare professional, I should understand the issues outside of someone’s physical health and also look at what circumstances led them to be here."

Balen's current career plans include public defense.

"The poverty studies class helps me think about that because so much of being a public defender is helping people in these situations where they can’t help themselves," Balen said. "I love law and I feel like there’s no point in studying law if you’re not going to help people, so that’s the best path for me right now."

Fon is already applying her knowledge through service with a local Head Start, a federally funded early childhood education program for low-income families.

"My mom was a daycare teacher’s assistant, so I had gone to work there over the summer some days and it was interesting to see how there was really not much of a difference between the two," she said. "Some people are not able to get out of poverty, so there must be more factors to that besides just simple education. Everything ties in together."

The social justice implications of poverty and human capability studies seek recognition from not only Washington and Lee alumni but people across the nation.

"We should care about something like inequality because growth is at stake," Brotzman said. "We know now that runaway inequality can put the brakes on growth, can actually dampen growth. We also know that it can really, really impair inter-generational income and wealth mobility. So, in other words, it takes up the opportunity for movement, which is kind of what we think of when we think of America as the land of opportunity."

Balen encouraged his fellow W&L students to enroll in poverty and human capability studies.

"Coming to W&L, everyone here is exposed to such an incredible education," he said. "But that’s not what reality is. That’s not what the entire United States is like... If we don’t learn about the other facets of American life, than we wouldn’t really be getting a holistic education.

"So I think that taking this poverty studies class gives you insight, gives me insight into a different aspect of life in America that I would never have gotten before," he continued. "And everybody should understand that because it’s a real thing, it’s a real thing that people have to deal with and it’s a real thing that we are going to have to deal with someday."

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

21021

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

69416
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

344658
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

215399
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

109238
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

298125

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

181316

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

122485
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments