What If Everything We Knew About Poverty Was Wrong?

There’s no getting around the veracity of Matthew 26:11. “…For ye have the poor always with you,” as the King James Version has it. But as long as there has been poverty, there have also been decent souls trying to eliminate it.

So how are they doing?  Not very well. According to the World Food Programme, 805 million people don’t have enough to eat. World Bank figures confirm that more than 3 billion people—or somewhat less than half the total planetary population–eke by on less than $2.50 a day, while almost 1.5 billion subsist on less than $1.25 a day. Fully 80 percent of the planet’s people get by on less than $10 a day. In other words, it’s not so much a case of the poor always being with us. Considered from a global perspective, the poor are us. Most human beings live in poverty, and for many the situation is utterly desperate.

#Global POV: Can Experts Solve Poverty?

Generation Y is on a mission to solve global poverty. A group of professors at the University of California, Berkeley is on a mission to stop them. It’s not that these Berkeley academics are not dedicated to alleviating poverty and inequality — in fact, quite the opposite. It’s just that they want students first to study and think about the history of attempts to solve, alleviate, and even understand poverty.

Engineering Improvements for the World

(Published in the Washington Post) By Lina Nilsson and Shankar Sastry In labs around the world, a new generation of engineers is emerging. They are men and women concerned by the gulf between rich and poor and by environmental changes and resource depletion. They are what we call “development engineers” — engineers (and often economics, business and social science majors, as well) who are dedicated to using engineering and technology to improve the lot of the world’s poorest people.

Here Versus There: Reflections from a “Voluntourist”

(Published in the San Francisco Chronicle) By Brenna Alexander Despite the altruistic lure of international volunteering, those seeking meaningful work should look no further than their own backyard. Last summer, I taught and played and laughed with children cooped up in a Cambodian orphanage. I had gone to Cambodia to work for another nonprofit organization. …
While there is much to learn abroad, volunteering at home is different and usually far more beneficial. If you volunteer at home, you are constantly reminded of the persistence of human suffering and the incredible difficulty of generating economic and societal change. When you volunteer at home, you encounter the injustice that resides within your own community – injustices that may collapse long-held notions and the allure of simple solutions.