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Center for Social Concerns


Home > Academic Courses and Programs > Winter Seminars > Urban Poverty and Causes of Homelessness

Social Concerns Seminar:

Urban Poverty and Causes of Homelessness

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Over 16,000 people, including more than 2,000 children, live without adequate food and shelter in the state of Oregon. Although the city of Portland, Oregon manages to provide shelter for almost half of this population, the number of individuals affected by poverty and homelessness continues to rise. This seminar examines the many myths associated with homelessness and explores the larger cycle of urban poverty from diverse interdisciplinary perspectives. Adopting a stance of solidarity and service, students will encounter the lives and stories of individuals affected by homelessness.

During the week long immersion, students will visit social service agencies, non-for-profit groups, and faith-based outreach initiatives that provide relief to people living on the streets of downtown Portland. Particular attention will be paid to assessing the role of the Catholic Church in relation to poverty alleviation in this area of the country.

Location: Portland, Oregon

Immersion Dates: January 2015 winter break (Dates TBD)

Fee: $200 (Scholarships available)

Size: 15 students

This covers food, housing, and supplies, and will be assessed through student accounts during March or April. If you are accepted into the seminar and decide not to participate after November 9, 2014, you will be charged the full seminar fee.

Additional spending money: $75


  • Students must provide their own transportation to and from the location, but not while on the immersion.

  • If needing to travel by air, air travel must be confirmed with the seminar director by the end of November.

  • Scholarships are available



  • Class will meet Wednesday afternoons from 4:30–6 p.m., November 5–December 10, in addition to having 2 follow-up classes in January.

  • As part of participation in a seminar, we seek to live intentionally and simply during the immersion, please be flexible. We ask that you take the opportunity to invest fully and embrace the change of pace and amenities.

  • You will receive more specific details about your experience during preparation classes.

  • Most meals will be prepared by your team or in conjunction with your hosts.

  • Student leaders and your seminar director will be your liaison with community partner contacts.

  • Lodging is provided – you will be responsible for your own bedding.

  • You must participate in all class sessions and entire immersion in order to complete requirements for the course. If you miss any class for any reason you will be responsible for making the class up. 


  • Winter 2015 application is now closed.

  • Application process is a general application which can be found here when open.

  • You cannot register for the seminar until you receive registration information from Seminars staff.

  • Notification of seminar placement will happen on or before Monday October 25—please note that the credits earned in the class will be applied to your spring semester.

  • By submitting the application, you confirm you are in good academic standing.

  • With questions about your application, email





Melissa Marley Bonnichsen

Seminar Director





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