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Founded in 1749, this liberal arts institution is named for two of the most influential men in American history: George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The university is located about three hours southwest of Washington, DC, in the historic city of Lexington. Home to 1,770 undergraduate students, Washington and Lee’s academic programs are offered through the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. Washington and Lee also has a graduate School of Law with about 400 students.

The Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability was established at Washington and Lee in 1997 with support from Nancy and Tom ’52 Shepherd. It integrates rigorous academic study and focused direct service to disadvantaged communities and persons, and supplements and enriches the education of undergraduate and law students in all majors and career paths. The intent of this program is to prepare students for lives aimed at diminishing poverty and enhancing human capability through professional and civic efforts.

Students combine interdisciplinary and disciplined-based coursework on poverty with direct service in their areas of special interest in order to supplement their major areas of study. About 40 discipline-based and interdisciplinary courses support the minor in poverty and human capability and include a variety of departments, including economics, sociology, English and politics. For many students, their coursework culminates in a capstone seminar and research project that connects their concerns about poverty to their future careers.

The Shepherd Program promotes a structure for student leadership and volunteer service in the local Rockbridge community and in eight-week summer internships across the nation as a part of Washington and Lee’s effort to accentuate student honor, leadership and learning. Students also are able to receive direct service experience through pre-orientation service trips for entering students led by upper-level undergraduates, intense community engagement through a Bonner Scholar Program, a Campus Kitchen that recovers unused food to prepare and serve to groups in the area, a Community-Academic Research Alliance, a Nabors Service League that organizes student service in the local community, direct service and focused community-based research linked with courses, and a post-graduate Elrod Fellowship Program for continuing education after graduation and work in the public and nonprofit sectors.

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SHECP Governing Board and Academic Director
Howard Pickett, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability
Adjunct Professor of Law
[email protected]

Internship Director
Francile Elrod
Associate Director for Community-Based Learning
Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability
[email protected]