WCU's Poverty Project allowed the WCU community to develop a better understanding of the root causes and consequences of poverty. It also taught students what they can actually do about poverty's different manifestations through a year's worth of engaged teaching, learning, service, and creative and scholarly opportunities centered on poverty, both in local communities and global society, as well as their interconnection.
It was a chance for all of us – students, faculty, staff, and community partners – to think together about an enormously complex problem in an interdisciplinary way, and also to place it in the more specific context of our own individual lives and vocations (or majors). We like to say that Western is a place for those who want to make a difference in their world, and this theme provided an opportunity to do just that: to clarify what our values actually are with respect to poverty and associated issues, and to practice the kind of responsible civic engagement that is consistent with those values.
Outcomes of the Poverty Project were to:
As part of the WCU Poverty Project, several students in the Philosophy and Religion department's course, 'Religion, Suffering and the Moral Imagination,' participated in the annual conference of one of the world's most respected humanitarian organizations, CARE. Students advocated for programs designed to increase education, reduce and prevent disease, and help improve access to food and clean water supplies, which are targeted to help the poorest of the poor worldwide, and particularly women and children, who suffer disproportionately from poverty.