Poverty: What, Why, and How

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Winter 2018 quarter

Taught by

sociology and social statistics

Many of us have seen the ugly face of poverty. But what is poverty? Why is poverty so prevalent? Who are the poor? What are the underlying causes of poverty? Why is poverty a disease of the whole society (not just the poor)? How is poverty manifested in people’s everyday life? Why are certain racial and ethnic groups more likely to fall into poverty? How do economic processes contribute to poverty? What are the goals and purposes of social welfare programs? What are the limits of policy? How can we act as a community to eliminate poverty? 

This course will explore poverty in the larger social context of increasing social inequality and use sociological theories to investigate various aspects of poverty and its particularities in the U.S. 

Using poverty as our subject of inquiry, we will study sociological theories and key concepts and critically examine their applicability to social class and poverty-related issues. We will explore the intricate and complex relationship between social structure and individuals. Course activities will include lectures, seminar, and workshop, individual and group projects. Students will write seminar essays and self-reflection papers and will carry out a research project oriented toward action.

Program Details

Fields of Study

political economy sociology


Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

Sat/Sun: 9:30am-5pm on Jan 13, 14, 27, 28, Feb 10, 11, 24, 25 and Mar 10 and 11

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online


2017-11-27Schedule change: Program is now offered Sat/Sun (was Mon/Wed)