Dr. James Jennings and Prof. Carmen Hardin

Course Title

The Engaged Citizen: Poverty and Institutions. The course is currently being taught this fall in 2013.

Teaching and Learning Goals

The students are examining the relationship between the impoverished in America and their interactions with four institutions – education, housing, welfare, and the criminal justice system.  In particular, this course addresses two important objectives:

  • Increase awareness of poverty and its effect on the principles of engaged citizenship
  • Explore ways in which poor people can be empowered to obtain a meaningful experience of engaged citizenship

The course revolves around a problem-based learning module which is based on a high school student who lives in a low-income household, and he has been affected by all of these institutions. The TEC students must design a policy memo which describes a multi-dimensional approach to solving this dilemma.

Teaching Strategies and Tools

We have contacted representatives from these various institutions who have agreed to participate in a teleconference session with our class, using Skype .

Experience and Results

Our first session was Friday, September 13, and it involved an administrator from a high-poverty school district in the Arkansas Delta. The session lasted almost 50 minutes, and most of the students asked at least one question. There are 31 students in the class.The students are required to come to class with 2-3 questions to ask the presenter. Also, we hope to have a teleconference with one or two individuals who live beneath the poverty line. This will allow our students to obtain “both sides of the story” before they design their policy memos concerning proposed changes for the impoverished as well as the institutions. It would have been very difficult to arrange these interviews without the use of teleconferencing. Furthermore, teleconferencing brings “real time” perspectives of practitioners into the classroom for our students, and this is great!

Leave a Reply