Poverty: What, Why and How

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Evening and Weekend
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

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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 program 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. 

In the fall quarter, 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. Program activities will include lectures, guest speakers, seminars, workshops and field trips. Students will write seminar essays and self-reflection papers and will carry out a research project oriented toward action. Toward the end of quarter, the students will also finish an assignment preparing for a potential internship in winter quarter.

In the winter quarter, the program consist of two parts. Half of the work (4 credits) will be in class, devoted to deeper investigations of several major poverty related issues such as homelessness, childhood poverty, health care and public health issues, incarcerationand immigration. For the other half (4 credits), students have the choice to do either an internship with a local agency or organization working with low incomeas well as other under served populations in the community or conduct a major research project that is focused on a topic related to povertyor other pressing social issues. Our class activities will include workshops, seminars as well as substantial group work with students helping refine each other’s project under the guidance of the faculty.

This program provides variable credit options. Students can choose to take the full 8 credit program or just the 4-credit in class portion or the 4-credit internship or research component portion of the program. Students who just take the 4-credit internship or research project portion of the program are not required but strongly encouraged to find their own agency to work with or their own topic to do research on. In the beginning of the quarter, we will devote class time to help you develop your proposal of internship and research project.Students who just take the internship or research portion of the program will meet every other Saturday. 

Potential credit equivalencies will be in sociology of poverty, research methodology, social policy, community study.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Social work, education, counselling, public administration, social policy, community study


Credits per quarter

Fields of study: 
Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$15 each quarter for museum entrance fees

Internship Opportunities:

Four credit internship is optional in winter.

Research Opportunities:

Two credit of research project is required in fall quarter and 4-credit research is optional in winter quarter.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 25

Scheduled for: Evening and Weekend

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019 - 6:00 pm
SEM 2 B3109 - Seminar

Advertised schedule:

Wednesdays 6-10pm and Alternating Saturdays 9:30am-5:00pm (Fall dates: September 29, October 13, 27, November 10, and December 8). 

Located in: Olympia

2018-12-05Signature requirement for winter quarter removed
2018-07-19Required fee lowered to $15 (was $30)
2018-05-16Schedule change: Program now meets Wed/Sat (was Sat/Sun)