In this course, we will explore the realities of poverty and inequality around the world, both within and between countries. We will address the following questions: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Are the reasons primarily historical, geographic, cultural, or political? Do some public policies promote development more successfully than others? Does development necessarily generate undesirable social and/or environmental costs? And what, if anything, should the world community do to assist the “bottom billion”? In considering these issues, we will give special attention to the countries we visit on our voyage. The course will feature both lectures and discussions.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Day: 1 - Cape Town - Friday, 28 March
Surrounding Cape Town are numerous squatter camps, populated mainly by impoverished job-seekers from the countryside. Typically, the residents of these shantytowns suffer from a host of problems, ranging from a lack of opportunity and basic services to undernourishment and ill health. Visiting the squatter camps will enable us to observe these problems firsthand and to ascertain what is being done to alleviate them. In particular, we will witness the activities of Operation Hunger, an NGO whose mission is to “create partnerships between vulnerable households and caring people to combat malnutrition, which, when suffered by children, undermines the nation’s health, education and economic potential.” A three- to four-page essay describing and evaluating your experience in light of what you have learned in the course is due at the beginning of class on day B20. This report will be worth 10% of your final grade. In preparing your report, you should think about the following issues: How, and to what extent, did the field lab advance your understanding of the themes of this course? How can you connect it to the assigned readings? To what extent did it help you establish links between this course and the others you are taking? Did you experience things that puzzled or surprised you, or led you to alter your views? Academic objectives:
- To witness the challenges of daily life in the shantytowns and achieve a deeper understanding of how residents respond to them
- To learn how the NGO Operation Hunger
- To assist staff members in preparing and serving a meal, and weighing and measuring participating children