Photo by Téalin Robinson
UW joins consortium for poverty, increasing resources for student research
UW-Madison’s focus on poverty research has been emphasized after joining the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium for Poverty, a nonprofit which promotes classroom studies programs for undergraduates.
The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium for Poverty started as a poverty studies program, initiated at Washington & Lee University in 1998. As the consortium’s momentum increased, the program integrated into 25 universities and colleges, offering summer internship programs and classes focused on poverty studies.
UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) focuses on researching poverty policies, and UW-Madison’s alliance with SHECP further emphasises the university’s poverty research.
Beginning with a “gateway” course followed by the eight-week summer internship, the poverty studies curricula “serve an agency that enables each student to experience work in his or her area of educational, professional and civic interest. The internships are designed for education as well as for service,” according to the SHECP website.
SHECP Executive Director Brett Morish explained the goal of the consortium is to provide an understanding that can be pervasive across schools.
“You would have a firm understanding of the root causes of poverty, and maybe some things that can be done about it, because these things are highly complex at the end of the day,” he said.
IRP Director Lawrence Berger discussed UW-Madison’s rich history in poverty research, focusing on informing students about antipoverty policies and programs.
“We are thrilled to [be a part of] the Shepherd Consortium and expand our efforts to reach even more undergraduate students dedicated to confronting poverty in the United States.”
Along with classroom studies on poverty, SHECP also integrates internship opportunities and co-curricular activities for students to work within a community.
Morish pointed out the uniqueness of experiential internships, which are a specific type of internship that allow students to live outside of their university’s setting with people from different universities who share a similar interest in poverty studies.
“You’re living this opportunity to be with a cohort of people who are like-minded but come from different backgrounds,” he said. “You’re living in a communal way, so you can participate very much like you’re embedded in the entire experience.”
With UW joining the consortium, undergraduate students who are interested in poverty studies will be given the opportunity to serve in a given community over the summer. During the 2018 summer program, the consortium provided 36,400 hours of service over the course of eight weeks in 2018, according to the SHECP Factsheet.
Along with discussing the unique community service opportunities provided in SHECP, Morish spoke about the impact of UW’s alliance with the consortium.
“Having UW joining the consortium this year really is an inflection point for the consortium, making us elevated in our platform.”