Poverty in the U.S. and Around the WorldCourse Level: Advanced

Course Summary

This is an ADVANCED level course and should not be attempted without sufficient grounding in the basics of the Catholic faith.

While this course analyzes some of the conditions, causes and trends of poverty in the United States and abroad, the primary focus attempts to explore these dimensions and responses to poverty through the theological lens of Catholic Social Teaching. In addition, particular emphasis and analysis will be given to two contemporary issues: immigration and economic justice. Central to the course is the idea of praxis: online discussion, readings, written reflection and a service component offer a greater depth of understand of the broader structures within which poverty persists, and opportunity for both social analysis and theological reflection that leads to a faith response rooted in justice and love.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • Analyze current trends and issues connected to poverty on both a domestic and global level, with particular attention given to issues connected to work, living wage, and immigration
  • Engage in a sharing of the experiences connected to poverty and economic injustice of contemporary people
  • Understand a Judeo-Christian response to poverty as rooted in scripture, Catholic Social Tradition and contemporary reflection and action
  • Explore various faith-based strategies and responses to domestic and global poverty
  • Discern both individual and communal faith response to poverty

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Kammer, Fred, SJ. Doing Faithjustice: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought (Revised ed.).. $19.95 Mahweh, NJ: Paulist Press. 2004. ISBN 0809142279
  • Required Book: Hogan, John Credible Signs of Christ Alive: Case Studies from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development $17.95 Washington, DC: USCCB. 2003. ISBN 0742531678
  • Required DVD: Line in the Sand: Stories from the US/Mexico Border. This DVD will be sent to you automatically by the VLCFF team before your course begins.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Introduction to Poverty
    • Be able to identify current poverty data for the United States
    • Be able to identify selected poverty data for the world
    • Reflected upon your own encounters with poverty
    • Be able to explain approaches to poverty that are rooted in faith
  • Week 2: Faith and Justice
    • Identify the seven themes of Catholic social teaching compiled by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
    • Differentiate between working for the poor and standing with the poor
    • Be familiar with the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty
    • Reflect upon you own interactions with the poor
  • Week 3: The Church Responds
    • Reflect upon Pope Benedict’s view of charity in light of our call to stand with the poor
    • Reflect upon the challenges to be with the poor
    • Explain responses to poverty rooted in systemic and structural change
    • Reflect upon the challenges of faithjustice in light of their own response to poor
  • Week 4: Economic Justice
    • Be familiar with the economic principles detailed in the U.S. Bishop’s statement “Economic Justice for All.”
    • Examine their own economic decisions in light of the principles put forward by the bishops.
    • Be able to explain the concept of fair trade goods.
    • Recognize connections between their own economic decisions and the plight of the poor.
  • Week 5: Immigration
    • Identify common myths and dynamics that erroneously frame the national response to immigration.
    • Be familiar with the foundational principles and overall stance of the US Catholic Bishops on the migrant and on issues and concerns related to immigration.
    • Be able to describe some of the experiences of migrants, particularly those associated with poverty, and ways in which the church can respond.
    • Explore personal views and action related to migration as well as those of their community in light of Catholic Social Tradition.