Poverty Studies as a Liberal Arts Discipline

If you approached a person on the street and asked them if they knew how many American’s lived in poverty, most would have no idea. This ignorance towards the issue of poverty in America is what led to the development of poverty studies as a course in many liberal arts institutions. Poverty studies should be a liberal arts discipline because it is such a major issue in today’s society and the only way to fix the problem is to better educate citizens. However, some may argue that poverty studies is not advantageous to students or this country.
Many liberal arts institutions are adopting poverty studies as a series of classes later developing into a special certification of graduation through the Shepherd Program. However, some are unclear as to what poverty studies is. Poverty studies is the close examination of what is considered the poverty line, how one falls into poverty, the ways out of poverty and how those above the poverty line can help. However students study these issues in relation to their major and do an internship in a field relative to what they expect to pursue later in life. Also, Liberal Arts is the study of various subjects within the realm of humanities to better educate a student on society as a whole as opposed to just one area of specialization that can be gained at a technical school or large university.
Including Poverty Studies in the liberal arts helps to give students an even more “well rounded” education by giving students a real look at how half of their own country lives and the realization that this issue is much closer to home then they might realize. This makes students more appreciative for the vast luxuries that they have and makes them more eager to help fight poverty. By educating students on issues of poverty it helps them try to detect poverty solving methods within their own career choice.

On the other hand, some believe that poverty studies should not be a part of a liberal education because it can be viewed as a wasted cause. Many Americans believe that there is really nothing we can do to fix poverty and that there will always have to be someone on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.