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Founded in 1826, Furman University is one of the nation’s premier undergraduate liberal arts colleges. The university offers outstanding academics, opportunities for a broad range of talented students with a passion for learning, a robust visual and performing arts program, and NCAA Division I athletics. Our 750-acre campus is nationally acclaimed for its beauty, and the student body of 2,600 students is the ideal size to enhance scholarly activity, personal growth and leadership development.

The Poverty Studies Minor (PVS) brings students face-to-face with the reality of poverty. Students study poverty locally, nationally and globally from a variety of academic disciplines, and they engage poverty directly through a summer internship. The minor invites informed, critical conversations about what it means to live in poverty, the causes of poverty, and how poverty might be addressed and alleviated through individual and institutional actions.

The Poverty Studies Minor was approved by the Furman University faculty in May 2008, concluding a major initiative begun in January 2007. This interdisciplinary minor insists that poverty is a multifaceted problem that is best studied through the eyes of multiple academic disciplines. Assisted by a generous grant from the Bridgeway Foundation, the Poverty Studies Minor was officially launched during the 2008-09 academic year with the first offering of the gateway course. The first cohort of students undertook PVS internships in summer 2009. We graduated our first class in 2010, and we have very quickly grown to be the largest minor on campus, enrolling more than 50 students.

All students in the minor must complete the gateway course. Topics include the definition, scope and measurement of poverty; experiences and effects of living in poverty; individual and structural causes; rights, claims and obligations regarding poverty; successes and failures in the alleviation of poverty; and current proposals for addressing poverty. Students must then take at least five additional courses to study poverty from different perspectives including economics, education, history, philosophy, political science, religion and sociology. At least one of these additional courses must be an advanced course in economics or political science, and no more than two of the courses can come from the same discipline. More than 40 courses from a dozen departments now carry Poverty Studies credit, which means that they treat the topic of poverty in depth for at least half the course.

Students in the Poverty Studies Minor must complete a full-time, eight to 10-week summer internship working directly with people in poverty. Students are expected to complete the “Introduction to Poverty Studies” course prior to undertaking the internship requirement, which is designed to provide students with an opportunity to actively engage this complex and important social problem. As part of the internship and to enhance the learning experience, students are asked to complete assigned readings, to keep journals, to contribute weekly to an online discussion group, and to prepare a final paper reflecting on their experiences.

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SHECP Council Member and Academic Director
Dr. David Gandolfo
Associate Professor of Philosophy

Internship Director
Diane Iseminger
Internship Office,

Academic Director
Amy Jonason, Ph.D.,

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