The Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor (PSIM) contributes to Notre Dame’s mission to “develop in students a disciplined sensibility to the poverty and injustice that burden the lives of so many” by focusing on the Catholic social teaching principle of the preferential option for the poor. Poverty Studies asks students to examine poverty, injustice, and oppression through research in multiple disciplines and through experiential learning in which students encounter people experiencing and addressing poverty firsthand. Poverty Studies seeks to form students in anti-racist, trauma-informed, and evidence-based action to confront and reduce poverty in local and global communities, now and lifelong. Through Poverty Studies, students combine passion, curiosity, knowledge, and skills to discern how they can help create a more equitable world in whatever profession they choose.
Housed at the Center for Social Concerns, Poverty Studies is truly interdisciplinary. Its affiliated faculty hail from the Colleges–Arts & Letters (arts, humanities, and social sciences), Business, Engineering, Science–as well as the Keough School for Global Affairs and academic institutes such as the Center for Social Concerns. No single academic discipline can solve poverty. Poverty Studies gathers people from different backgrounds with different academic preparation to work together for the common good.
As an interdisciplinary minor, Poverty Studies enables students to collaborate with peers who hold different pieces of the puzzle on how to address poverty effectively. Students might find themselves in class with a biology major seeking to become a doctor in underserved areas, an engineering student concerned about clean water, a business student wanting to specialize in sustainability for non-profits or micro-finance, a psychology major interested in ways that gender intersects with financial resources and culture, and an English major eager to use stories to support the voices of people experiencing poverty. What they share is a deep concern about similar issues and a willingness to expand and apply their knowledge in a collective effort to reduce poverty.
Local and Experiential Learning
Experiential learning is a hallmark of Poverty Studies at Notre Dame. Students leave the comfort of the classrooms to confront poverty in local, national, and international communities with people who invite them to learn in new places through carefully guided encounters. Poverty Studies has strong partnerships with community organizations in South Bend, and we encourage students to address poverty here in their current home where they can build durable relationships.